Considering Graduate School?
If you are considering this question, here are two good resources:
- “Is Graduate School for You?”: This is a 3-page handout from the Mathematical Association of America.
- Preparing for Graduate School in Mathematics: This resource from Saint Louis University is aimed at students at SLU, but gives also good, general advice.
There are several math-related disciplines that you can study at the graduate level after obtaining an undergraduate degree in mathematics. Students who earn a graduate degree of some form generally enter careers that pay higher salaries. Note that graduate study in the mathematical sciences can often be financed with a teaching or research assistantship, or a fellowship.
Mathematics is used extensively in fields such as computer science, economics, engineering and even law or medicine. Many jobs in mathematics are now requiring degrees beyond a B.A. Students planning to go to graduate school should consult early on with their advisors and with faculty in their fields of interest. Topics to discuss include which courses to take, and which schools to apply to. If you want to go to graduate school in the mathematical sciences, you should take as many upper-division mathematics and statistics courses as you can; just fulfilling the minimum requirements for a math major will not get you into a good graduate program.
A good source of information about graduate programs in the mathematical sciences is the website Find Graduate Programs in the Mathematical Sciences hosted by the American Mathematical Society. There you can find data about faculty, programs of study, enrollment, as well as information about fellowships and teaching assistantships. The bulletin board in the hallway on the second floor of the mathematics building has information on graduate schools as well.
Degrees earned in graduate school are usually Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Teaching, and Doctor of Philosophy. A master’s degree will take anywhere from two to three years to complete, while a Ph.D. could take five to seven years (this includes earning master's degree).
Keep in mind:
- Application deadlines start as early as December, so plan ahead!
- You will probably have to take the GRE General Test, and possibly the GRE Subject test in Mathematics. The subject test is only given a few times a year, so you will have to plan for that.
- You will probably need three letters of recommendation from faculty members. Think carefully about whom to ask, and ask early; it takes time to write a thoughtful recommendation letter.
- Applications to graduate schools often require the following:
- Completed application form
- Official transcript(s)
- Three recommendation letters from faculty members
- Scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
- Non-refundable application fee
- Bachelor's degree completed by the time of enrollment