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math grad school - no research experience


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Hi,

I will be a senior math major at a top 25 school this fall. I switched majors from psychology to math fall of junior year. I've only recently realized that I may like to go to grad school for math. I don't have much experience with math besides coursework, so I think I'm going to pursue a masters before applying to schools for a phd. I'm not sure though, because I've read that many schools take very few masters students so I might apply directly to phd programs. By the time applications are due(the end of this semester) I will have taken Abstract Algebra, Number Theory, Complex Variables, Analysis 1, Linear Algebra(upper division, proof oriented). Note, I'm only getting around to analysis this fall. My math gpa should be ~3.8, what kind of gre should I go for? I'm obviously not expecting Princeton - would I have a shot at places like UIUC, Stony Brook? I'll be applying to places farther down the list also: Indiana, UVA, etc. Where else should I look? Also, are there any "safeties" for someone in my position? I'm thinking about schools like Iowa, Georgia, Utah? Thanks in advance for your advice!

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i didn't have research experience and one of my advisors told me that lots of incoming grad students don't have research experience, so it shouldn't be a major concern for you.

My one piece of advice would be to address in your SOP some specific areas that you know you'd like to do research in during grad school, and perhaps tie it in with research that is being done by a few professors you'd like to work under. Don't make excuses for not having research. instead, focus on the future and what you want to do research in while demonstrating what a great fit you are for the department.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Hi,

I will be a senior math major at a top 25 school this fall. I switched majors from psychology to math fall of junior year. I've only recently realized that I may like to go to grad school for math. I don't have much experience with math besides coursework, so I think I'm going to pursue a masters before applying to schools for a phd. I'm not sure though, because I've read that many schools take very few masters students so I might apply directly to phd programs. By the time applications are due(the end of this semester) I will have taken Abstract Algebra, Number Theory, Complex Variables, Analysis 1, Linear Algebra(upper division, proof oriented). Note, I'm only getting around to analysis this fall. My math gpa should be ~3.8, what kind of gre should I go for? I'm obviously not expecting Princeton - would I have a shot at places like UIUC, Stony Brook? I'll be applying to places farther down the list also: Indiana, UVA, etc. Where else should I look? Also, are there any "safeties" for someone in my position? I'm thinking about schools like Iowa, Georgia, Utah? Thanks in advance for your advice!

The GRE is primarily calculus, a near-perfect score is somewhat expected. The lack of research will hurt you at the upper level, as well as your classes if they are not at the graduate level. If you're a woman or minority that will help a lot.

You'll probably be accepted at UVA. I went there for my undergrad and with a slightly higher GPA, research, and several graduate classes, I was accepted easily (it was my safety school). The incoming class that I met at orientation had stats similar to yours or slightly lower.

My undergrad advisor said that I would be able to get into places like Berkeley or Michigan, but my application process was a bloodbath and I ended up at University of Maryland (which turned out to be great). I hate to be a killjoy, but it seems that things are a lot more competitive since the days of our professors. UIUC may be a stretch I think, I have an officemate who came from there and didn't get in. My advice is to shotgun the entire band of universities.

Don't be caught up in the ranking though, it's much more important that the school has strengths in the subject you want to study. You might want to go to a place with a decent applied department, because you may end up doing it. I came to UMD as an algebraist, and I was incredibly lucky that there was a good applied program because I ended up doing that.

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