PDA

View Full Version : Masters in Maths (Sorry for another math thread)



Econtobe
11-28-2007, 11:54 AM
Well, I was advised by the forum to get a masters before applying since I've an engineering+mba background, nothing connected with economics. I've taken macro, micro theory at grad level but at a bschool. Although I might have the required math (see below), I don't seem to have good grades in them. And I wanted to target the top-25 schools.

I'm interested in a math master.. I've listed below the math courses I've taken with grades.

1. Can anyone comment if I'll be accepted to the degree? Generally speaking (without analysing courses), an engineer should have enough math to qualify for a masters in maths, isn't it? I'm also writing to the math depts..

2. I'll be taking general GRE and subject GRE. Assuming very good scores, what kind of schools can I apply to? Will schools ranked around 50 accept me for MA Math?

3. How competitive will the program be? I don't want to end up with a less than 3.7 GPA which will happen if the MA Math program has all Math geniuses who want a ph.d in math.. I'm scared..

--------------- List of math courses taken before--------

Quantitative Methods for business (Grade: B+) Textbook: David R. Anderson , Dennis J. Sweeney, Thomas A. Williams
Operations Research (Grade: B) Textbook: Hamdy A. Taha
Numerical Methods for Engineers (Grade: A+) Contents: Solution of linear and non-linear systems of equations, Curve fitting, Numerical differentiation and integration, Numerical solutions of ODE
Mathematics for Engineers III (Grade: D) Contents: Linear differential equations and applications, Partial differential equations and applications, Vector Calculus, Laplace Theorem, Fourier and Z-transforms, Probability and Statistics
Mathematics for Engineers II (Grade: B) Contents: Fourier Series, Integral calculus, Double and triple integration, Application of multiple integrals, Ordinary Differential Equations (ODEs), Application of ODEs
Mathematics for Engineers I (Grade B) Contents: Complex numbers with applications, Differential calculus I Differential calculus II, Partial differentiation and applications, Matrices I, Matrices II

YoungEconomist
11-28-2007, 04:42 PM
Well, since you did your undergrad in engineering, I imagine you have the necessary math. I just want to mention this to let you know that you probably can get accepted to some PhD programs with your current application (which I mention because you already have a masters, so getting another one and then going onto a PhD seems like a lot of time and money). However, the schools you will get into might not be in the top 50, so you will have to take this into consideration when making your decision. Of course, a lot of this depends on what you want to do with your PhD, as well as how much a masters in math will improve your admits (which may not be as much as you think, because it seems that at many really strong programs they won't overlook poor undergrad performance).

Hopelessly_Screwed
11-28-2007, 06:51 PM
Alot of your math seems basic applied stuff. But if your GPA is above 3.0, i'm sure you'll get into some program.

However, your first semester may be a rude awakening since they'll want you to catch up with some real mathematics courses, like Analysis or maybe even Algebra.

If you've taken the subject exam and scored above 700 without taking any pure mathematics, then you're in a good shape for masters I imagine (lot's of masters programs seem to be skeptical of the subject exam....and i've foudn that even if you did really really well in it, it dosn't really push your application up).

I've only applied to one program (and was dismissed), but for me, the GPA was the critical factor. But this may not be so if you apply to many programs. I'd say you have a decent shot. Just keep on trying. Get good Recs. I think that was another problem with my application. So-So recs will kill you, 100% guarnteed.

YoungEconomist
11-28-2007, 06:54 PM
Alot of your math seems basic applied stuff. But if your GPA is above 3.0, i'm sure you'll get into some program.

However, your first semester may be a rude awakening since they'll want you to catch up with some real mathematics courses, like Analysis or maybe even Algebra.

If you've taken the subject exam and scored above 700 without taking any pure mathematics, then you're in a good shape for masters I imagine (lot's of masters programs seem to be skeptical of the subject exam....and i've foudn that even if you did really really well in it, it dosn't really push your application up).

I've only applied to one program (and was dismissed), but for me, the GPA was the critical factor. But this may not be so if you apply to many programs. I'd say you have a decent shot. Just keep on trying. Get good Recs. I think that was another problem with my application. So-So recs will kill you, 100% guarnteed.

Hopelessly_Screwed brings up some good points (and by the way, that username cracks me up :p).

If your math is not up to the right level, you could always take some of the important classes at the undergrad level at a nearby college.

tangsiuje
11-28-2007, 06:56 PM
If you really want to get onto a PhD programme in economics, it would probably be more fruitful to do a master's in economics at one of the Canadian schools which were suggested in the previous threads which you posted. You would probably need to demonstrate some kind of commitment to economics as such to be admitted onto a PhD programme, and a master's would be a good start.

Pursuing a master's degree in Maths could possibly balance up your lacking maths grades at undergrad, but it does seem to be quite a waste of time and money to do a master just for that reason. In addition, as you expressed concerns about before, the people enrolled in a maths master will most likely be quite brilliant mathematicians, and you should only choose this route if you feel you can do brilliantly even compared to them.

Moreover, it's not really clear that an econ PhD needs graduate level maths. From what I've understood, a sound quantitative background and a good command of linear algebra is necessary to do well in a PhD program, whilst more advanced maths courses will benefit you mainly as a signalling device. If I were you, I would apply for a master's program in econ, preferably somewhere were you can take some undergraduate maths classes on the side. If you can excel in some fairly advanced maths undergrad classes, that'd be good enough with respect to maths.

Moreover, a master's program in econ might be beneficial in finding out whether economics is really what you want to dedicate the rest of your life to. Whatever you do, however, you do need to get quite brilliant grades. This will presumably be easier if you do something that you're passionate about (I'm assuming that this is economics after all, since you want to pursue a PhD in the field...).

Good luck!

takemoremath
11-28-2007, 11:11 PM
It sounds like you would also be well prepared for a masters in statistics. There are several reasons to consider this. First, it's likely to be a better fit than a masters in math (you probably have all the pure math you'll ever need, but probably not all the statistics training). Second, your funding opportunities may be considerably better in stats.

Econtobe
11-29-2007, 05:11 AM
Well, since you did your undergrad in engineering, I imagine you have the necessary math. I just want to mention this to let you know that you probably can get accepted to some PhD programs with your current application (which I mention because you already have a masters, so getting another one and then going onto a PhD seems like a lot of time and money). However, the schools you will get into might not be in the top 50, so you will have to take this into consideration when making your decision. Of course, a lot of this depends on what you want to do with your PhD,

A Ph.d from outside of Top-50 will shut the doors on a globally competitive academic career, isn't it? Maybe I can comfortably work in a top Indian think-tank or an Indian university with a ph.d from outside of top-50... will think over.

as well as how much a masters in math will improve your admits (which may not be as much as you think, because it seems that at many really strong programs they won't overlook poor undergrad performance).If good grades in grad level math & econ courses doesn't count over average-to-poor undergrad performance, then its a real pity. After all, graduate school is supposedly rigorous than bachelors and econ/math courses at a grad school will more closely resemble ph.d core/research.. Adcom behavior doesn't sound very logical if this is true.. Its a pity because it implies that for someone with so-so (not poor) undergrad performance, a top-20 school is completely out of reach..

polkaparty
11-29-2007, 05:25 AM
A Ph.d from outside of Top-50 will shut the doors on a globally competitive academic career, isn't it? Maybe I can comfortably work in a top Indian think-tank or an Indian university with a ph.d from outside of top-50... will think over.

Sure on average it's more difficult to pursue an academic career coming from a lower ranked school, but it hardly "shuts the door" on it.

This is one beautiful difference between econ & careers in law and medicine. Econ has no regulation on who can enter the profession, so theoretically it's possible to self train yourself, and if you can produce awesome research then you'll get it published. [caveat: you might not be able to get a job at most universities without a degree though, but that's university specific. They could make exceptions probably for a super genuis...]


If good grades in grad level math & econ courses doesn't count over average-to-poor undergrad performance, then its a real pity. After all, graduate school is supposedly rigorous than bachelors and econ/math courses at a grad school will more closely resemble ph.d core/research.. Adcom behavior doesn't sound very logical if this is true.. Its a pity because it implies that for someone with so-so (not poor) undergrad performance, a top-20 school is completely out of reach..

This isn't because adcoms aren't logical, it's because there's huge competition. If they can pick between people with great undergrad & great masters, why would they pick someone with great masters & so-so undergrad? [all else equal of course]

Econtobe
11-29-2007, 05:40 AM
It sounds like you would also be well prepared for a masters in statistics. There are several reasons to consider this. First, it's likely to be a better fit than a masters in math (you probably have all the pure math you'll ever need, but probably not all the statistics training). Second, your funding opportunities may be considerably better in stats.


Yes, I am eligible for a stat master and considering funding-fit, it does appear a better choice than math. However since most fellow students would come from a stronger stat/math background, it might be difficult to score good grades (similar argument as math masters).
Also, as youngeconomist has said, most of my math background seems applied against pure, which is understandable given my engineering undergrad.

Thanks takemoremath.

Econtobe
11-29-2007, 06:39 AM
If you really want to get onto a PhD programme in economics, it would probably be more fruitful to do a master's in economics at one of the Canadian schools which were suggested in the previous threads which you posted. You would probably need to demonstrate some kind of commitment to economics as such to be admitted onto a PhD programme, and a master's would be a good start.

Thanks tangsiuje. Very valid thoughts there. Does masters course credits get transferred to ph.d? I was thinking if I've to redo the masters courses as part of ph.d core, then an econ masters will not be a value-addition as much as math/statistics.


Pursuing a master's degree in Maths could possibly balance up your lacking maths grades at undergrad, but it does seem to be quite a waste of time and money to do a master just for that reason. In addition, as you expressed concerns about before, the people enrolled in a maths master will most likely be quite brilliant mathematicians, and you should only choose this route if you feel you can do brilliantly even compared to them.

Moreover, it's not really clear that an econ PhD needs graduate level maths. From what I've understood, a sound quantitative background and a good command of linear algebra is necessary to do well in a PhD program, whilst more advanced maths courses will benefit you mainly as a signalling device.
Econphd.net guide gives a list of minimum math prep and nice to have courses. While I have the minimum preparation courses, I think I don't have Real Analysis, Metric Spaces, Functional Analysis, Measure Theory, Topology.. or maybe I'm just confused by the names of the courses. Can you kindly see the list of courses I've already taken and let me know if I've covered any of this? All these sound like Pure maths against the applied ones that I've taken.

I understand grad level math is not required. Maybe I should just take these undergrad math courses as part of MA Econ. Will it suffice?


If I were you, I would apply for a master's program in econ, preferably somewhere were you can take some undergraduate maths classes on the side. If you can excel in some fairly advanced maths undergrad classes, that'd be good enough with respect to maths.

Moreover, a master's program in econ might be beneficial in finding out whether economics is really what you want to dedicate the rest of your life to. Whatever you do, however, you do need to get quite brilliant grades. This will presumably be easier if you do something that you're passionate about (I'm assuming that this is economics after all, since you want to pursue a PhD in the field...).

Good luck!Thanks for all the thoughts. Apart from the interest, getting brilliant grades also depends on who I get graded in-relation-to, in class.. And if I take math/stat undergrad classes from an econ grad school, then I stand a better chance of good grades than competing with aspiring math ph.d students in a math/stat MA..

If grad level math/stat courses aren't required and is difficult to score, then why do Econphd and others in the forum recommend a MA in math or stat as a stepping stone for econ phd?

Also, assuming I join Fall 2008 for masters and apply in Dec 2008 for ph.d, I would only have term I MA course grades.. isn't it? Of course I can get reco from good profs in MA, but the Term II courses won't be useful at all in enhancing ph.d admit prospects?

YoungEconomist
11-29-2007, 04:35 PM
A Ph.d from outside of Top-50 will shut the doors on a globally competitive academic career, isn't it? Maybe I can comfortably work in a top Indian think-tank or an Indian university with a ph.d from outside of top-50... will think over.

Depends on what you mean by "academic career." If you are talking about landing a job at a liberal arts college or small university, or other schools with only a bachelors in econ (and in some cases a terminal masters) then you can probably land that job from about any PhD program. If you are talking about landing a job at a school that offers a PhD in Economics, but is ranked fairly low, then I think you'll have a decent shot if your research is good. When I've been on these schools websites I've noticed they have a mix of professors, some that come from very high ranked programs and some that came from pretty low ranked programs (as well as some in between). If your goal is to land a job at a University which has a PhD program ranked in the top 30 (maybe even top 50) then you pretty much have to get a PhD from a top 5 (you'll also have some shot if you at least came from a top 20, but I hear it's very difficult).


If good grades in grad level math & econ courses doesn't count over average-to-poor undergrad performance, then its a real pity. After all, graduate school is supposedly rigorous than bachelors and econ/math courses at a grad school will more closely resemble ph.d core/research.. Adcom behavior doesn't sound very logical if this is true.. Its a pity because it implies that for someone with so-so (not poor) undergrad performance, a top-20 school is completely out of reach.

Well, I heard that good grades are generally easier to get in masters programs, which makes them weaker signals. Besides, the people who generally go to really top notch schools (which I consider top 20) have incredible undergrad profiles (just look at a good number of folks on the "Profiles and Results" thread). Don't get me wrong, I'm sure a masters in math (assuming you get good grades) will definitely help, just don't expect it to make a huge difference. Also, realize that many people get masters even after having a good undergrad record, so you'll also be competing against them.

Unfortunately for most of us, PhD programs in Economics are incredibly competitive. To illustrate this, here's a question I asked an adcom from my school (ranked approximately 30th) at a grad school seminar:

YoungEconomist: I realize that reviewing applications is incredibly time consuming. And therefore, I'm under the impression that most schools, use the QGRE as a first round cutoff. So what is that cutoff here?

Adcom: Well, I wouldn't say we have a cutoff, as we look through every applicant. However, if you don't do well on the QGRE, then you probably won't do well in grad school.

YoungEconomist: Well, let's say someone got a low QGRE score, such as a 720 or 740. But they had good grades, in many upper level math courses, such as 3.5 or better?

Adcom: Well, hopefully they'd do better than a 3.5, like at least a 3.8 or 3.9. Then yeah, we'd definitely take those grades into consideration.

I was kinda shocked. First of all, I don't know that it's clear that doing bad on the QGRE means one won't do well in grad school (considering the math is very different and it's more about the time constraint and not making simple errors). Second, he didn't seem to think a 3.5 is that good of a grade in upper level math courses.

IntEcon80
11-29-2007, 11:02 PM
QGRE is so important for Econ PhD I just don't know why. It is the single most important part of the application in the first round. Even if you have a 4.0 GPA if you bomb the GRE you will never make it past the screening phase at most Top 10/20 programs.

I think ETS and Kaplan are very well aware of this fact and it really helps them get a lot of $$$ from students.

But the good news is that they are plenty of good well rounded program outside the Top 10/20 such as Iowa, Rutgers, Michigan State to name a few....

Hopelessly_Screwed
11-29-2007, 11:19 PM
I don't buy that statement about 3.8 GPA for "upper level mathematics" courses. I've never heard a more ridicolous statement. Even a 3.5 is considered "very good" for most top 20 Mathematics programs. But mathematics dosn't really have "set" things like Economics admissions do. I've been told it's more a feeling they get (which becomes a strong feeling when you get research).

A person who get 800 on the GRE could totally be lost in actual mathematics, so I don't see how that statement would even make sense. The GRE Quant is some sort of idiocy. I felt the GRE was a joke exam, especially since this was suppose to indicate something about potential graduate students; the exam was very simple.... it reminded me of a high-school exam.

I suspect, what matters for admissions in any research-orientated field is the ability to do research.... so 1. Recs 2. Research are the two things you really want to have to succeed.

IntEcon80
11-29-2007, 11:26 PM
I don't buy that statement about 3.8 GPA for "upper level mathematics" courses. I've never heard a more ridicolous statement. Even a 3.5 is considered "very good" for most top 20 Mathematics programs. But mathematics dosn't really have "set" things like Economics admissions do. I've been told it's more a feeling they get (which becomes a strong feeling when you get research).

A person who get 800 on the GRE could totally be lost in actual mathematics, so I don't see how that statement would even make sense. The GRE Quant is some sort of idiocy. I felt the GRE was a joke exam, especially since this was suppose to indicate something about potential graduate students; the exam was very simple.... it reminded me of a high-school exam.

I suspect, what matters for admissions in any research-orientated field is the ability to do research.... so 1. Recs 2. Research are the two things you really want to have to succeed.

I agree with your point of view.

buckykatt
11-30-2007, 12:56 AM
Does masters course credits get transferred to ph.d? I was thinking if I've to redo the masters courses as part of ph.d core, then an econ masters will not be a value-addition as much as math/statistics.


If you get a master's in econ at one school and attend another for your Ph.D., about the best you can hope for is to be able to waive some minor course (e.g. first semester statistics, econ history, etc.). If you continue at the school where you earned your master's degree, your master's courses may be the same as the Ph.D. core, or they may be totally different courses that don't apply toward the Ph.D., or something in between.

So, you're probably correct in thinking that a master's in math or stats may contribute as much to speedy progress through a Ph.D. program in econ once you get there as a master's in econ would. However, I think the point tangsiuje was making is that given that your background is weak in economics, doing a master's in econ might send the right signal to adcoms (and give you more of an opportunity to cultivate good LOR writers) and thus contribute more to getting admitted to a competitive program.

I'm not sure what I'd do in your situation. But, whichever way I went, I'd look for a program that was flexible enough to let me pursue a mixed strategy, e.g. a master's program where I could take some real analysis or a math or stats program where I could take grad micro at the Ph.D. level.