View Full Version : Last semester dilemma: Math major or Math intensive semester

10-29-2010, 10:06 PM
Hey guys,

I'm looking at my course classes for my last semester at undergrad and I have a dilemma.

Do I choose being a math major (I'm already an econ major) over taking more useful classes in my last semester before I dive into a Econ masters program? (I'm going to those programs which will give me a stepping stone in the PhD program)

If I choose the former, then my course load will be:

1. Econ Senior Seminar (basically just a class writing a research paper)
2. Statistical Theory (part of the Probability-Stats sequence; I'm taking probability right now)
3. Mathematics Thesis (doing a thesis on cooperative game theory, mechanism design stuff)

4. Real Analysis 1 (very unlikely I can handle taking this class when I have to write a math thesis and do stat theory with the same hard-*** professor I'm busting my guts out for this semester in Probability)

If I choose the latter, my courseload will be:

1. Econ Senior Seminar
2. Real Analysis 1
3. Topology (point set topology with additional topics from geometric and algebraic if time permits)

I'll only take 3 classes in this scenario since the idea is to set aside time to basically do proofs every single day, Saturday and Sunday included.

Right now my math background is still really weak. I have forgotten everything from my Vector calc class and my ability to write proofs is still very weak.

What do I do?! I guess if I can get into Tuft's Ms Econ program I can tailor my schedule to take advanced proof-based math classes in addition to grad econ classes but wouldn't it be better to REALLY know how to write proofs in undergrad?

10-30-2010, 09:28 AM
My 2:2cents: is to forget getting the math major credential and concentrate on being the best candidate you can be. Boosting your profile but being unprepared for where you get into is pointless.

I'd suggest taking
Real Analysis I
Statistical Theory
no matter what. I don't understand why you are so set on taking the Econ Senior Seminar. I mean if I wanted to learn how to write a paper I'd just pick a topic ask a prof's advice and try my hand at writing something. It sounds like you'd have an opportunity to do that with the math thesis. Is it part of your graduating requirements or something?

P.S. if you had the choice between taking
Econ senior seminar, Statistical Theory, and Typology
or Just taking Real Analysis I
It's a no brainer to take RA I because it's just that useful and helpful in the first year and developing math intuition for proofs.

10-30-2010, 05:07 PM
Thanks Charis!

I would skip the senior seminar if I could (trust me on this one), but I need it as part of my graduating requirements. Actually it really is not much work - I heard the prof just leaves you alone and you pretty much do your own thing, so I wouldn't plan on doing much in that class anyway. I'm pretty sure I can rush out an empirical paper in a couple of weeks if I need to.

So Stat Theory is really that important? I know it is important, but my thinking is if I can master proofs, stat theory will seem a lot easier. Of course taking RA 1 and topology concurently sounds like overkill just to learn proofs, but the professors teaching those courses say that they complement each other and both are pretty amazing profs...not so for the stat theory prof.

Oh well.

11-13-2010, 08:32 AM
I'm bumping this thread because of more follow-up questions. Anyone who sees this, please provide advice if you can on the following:

My heart is set on going for Tufts MS in Econ program. Right now, I'm doing a math thesis on cooperative game theory that I'm sinking a lot of time into with very little pay-off. Basically, all I do is read really complicated math papers on matching problems and then summarizing it for my professor. This takes up on average 6 - 8 hours a week. I don't know if next semester I will spend less or more time, but it seems to me that the time spent on the thesis is better spent trying to do better in my math classes.

So given that my top choice is not a PhD program, but a MS econ program, should I continue with the math major? I will take Real Analysis and Stat Theory next semester regardless. If I do a math major, then I have to take those two classes for credit, which means sticking out until the end, even if I know I will get a B or B-. If I don't do a math major, the pressure is more or less off. If I sense a B or B- in one or more of these classes, I will drop them and this will give myself more time to do better in math classes that I can hopefully take in grad school.

Thoughts? I've been tormented by these considerations for almost 2 weeks already!!!

11-13-2010, 10:34 PM
your cv will look better in 10 years time with a double major, just saying.

11-14-2010, 01:17 AM
thanks econm.

I've decided to drop the major.