Background: Currently I am a first year PhD student in Mathematics in Singapore, doing functional analysis (doing theoretical stuff, not on PDE).

My hope is to get a tenure-track assistant professorship somewhere and I am willing to relocate. However, a lot of my friends told me that even though I do not have any geographic concern, it is still very hard for Pure Maths to land a tenure-track position as competition is very stiff, so I might have a better life if I venture into industry.

With this in mind, I browse through mathjobs to get a sense of current market on post-doc and tenure-track position. I notice that there are 300+ tenured-tenure track faculty positions and 100+ post-doc positions (of course, not all positions are for analysis).

Above figures makes me wonder whether what my friends told me is true. Particularly,

Question: Given that I am willing to relocate, is it true that Pure Functional Analyst very hard to land a tenure-track faculty position?

  • Unless I'm overlooking something, I've had 7 different full-time jobs in my life thus far (includes academic and non-academic), and I've had to relocate for each of them. Thus, from my perspective it seems a bit strange to see "willing to relocate", especially in the context of academic jobs (for which not having to relocate is quite rare). Perhaps by "relocate" you mean relocate to a different country? Oct 5, 2018 at 12:38
  • Just in terms of numbers, you have to remember that not only are there 300-million people in the US, of which 2% have PhDs, but an awfully lot of people from other countries want a job in the US as well. Yet in the US alone, there were some 1,900 new PhD graduates in "mathematical sciences" just in 2015-2016: ams.org/profession/data/annual-survey/phds-awarded And there has been an ongoing "surplus" of PhD graduates vs jobs for quite a many years. So while this doesn't mean it isn't possible, you should take that 300 listed jobs number as a very limited data point.
    – BrianH
    Oct 5, 2018 at 12:56
  • @DaveLRenfro Yes, I mean relocate to different country.
    – Idonknow
    Oct 5, 2018 at 13:10

1 Answer 1


Tenure-track positions are hard to get in any area of mathematics. I don't think that functional analysis is any different in this regard. The question you should ask yourself (and your adviser) therefore is more whether (i) you are good enough to compete for them, and whether (ii) you are doing what is necessary to make sure you get a chance to compete. The latter, for example, involves writing papers, going to conferences, talking to colleagues, etc.

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