Graduate School FAQs
What is the process for applying to graduate school?
Normally the student should apply in the fall of the senior year for admission the following fall. Most math departments with graduate programs offer support for graduate study on a competitive basis in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships or fellowships. Students should apply to departments of varying quality to better their chances of admission and/or support.
Usually letters of recommendation and results of the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) are required. Some, if not all, of these letters should be from math faculty who know the student's work in advanced courses. Normally, students should plan to take the GRE General Test and the GRE Mathematics Subject test in the fall of the senior year. The fall dates are usually in October and December. In some cases it is important to take the October test to be sure the results arrive in time for the student to get full consideration for admission and/or support.
Information and application booklets for the GRE are available in the Office of Career and Counseling Services. A copy of an information booklet about the GRE Mathematics Subject Test is available for inspection in R13, Regina Hall.
Students considering graduate work in mathematics should feel free to ask faculty members about various math departments and graduate programs. The list of information sources below about graduate programs also should be useful.
What kinds of opportunities are available for graduate study in mathematics?
There are opportunities for well-qualified students to obtain support for graduate studies in mathematics. The academic job market for Math Ph.D.s has been very poor in the recent past. There is some hope that this will improve with a large number of retirements among math faculty, but that is uncertain. Some Math Ph.D.s have obtained non-academic jobs doing consulting or research.
What kinds of opportunities are available for graduate study in other fields?
An undergraduate math major is often good background for graduate work in other fields which use mathematics, such as computer science, statistics, medicine, economics, industrial engineering, operations research, genetics, forestry, educational psychology, meteorology, law, physics, and various other fields in the social, biological and physical sciences.
Of course, preparation for graduate work in one of these fields may also require a substantial number of courses more directly related to the field; however, some of these graduate programs accept math majors who have limited background in the area of study.
Where can I get more information about graduate programs in mathematics?
- An Assessment of Research—Doctorate Programs in the United States: Mathematical and Physical Sciences by the Conference Board of the Associated Research Councils, 1982. This study evaluates doctoral programs on quality of faculty effectiveness of graduate education and some other items. The results for programs in Mathematics, Statistics/Biostatistics and Computer Science have been edited and interpreted in the April 1983 issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, pp. 257-267. In September, 1995, the results of a recent study of graduate departments were announced. It is anticipated that the math department rankings will be published soon by one of the professional mathematics organizations.
- The Gorman Report publishes a ranking of undergraduate and graduate programs of various fields on an annual basis. Copies can be found in the Edgewood College Library.
- Assistantships and Fellowships in the Mathematical Sciences. This is published every fall. It lists the assistantships and fellowships available for the following academic year. A copy may be purchased for $18.00 from the American Mathematical Society, P.O. Box 6248, Providence, R.I. 02940. Copies are also available in the Mathematics Library, Room B224, Van Vleck Hall on the UW-Madison campus.
- Some announcements about graduate programs are posted on the bulletin board outside R20 in Regina Hall