I know this sounds weird. I'm getting a Master in Business (MSc, not MBA) with emphasis in Finance (in my country you can't officially get a master in finance, logistics or marketing, they are all called Master of Business but still different based on what you want to research for the thesis).

Thing is, I really became interested in research and academia recently and have been thinking about changing my plans completely (I was working in business management before starting full-time grad school and wanted to go back to the industry, but not anymore, I found out that I like academic research a lot).

I have two college majors, one in Business and one in IT. Do you think it is possible to start a DSc program in Europe in pure maths with this background? Would I have to go back to 0 and get another, more closely related, college degree or maybe masters? I just don't want to get my hopes high and invest time and effort pursuing something unrealistic. I'll finish my masters when I'm 26 next year, if I had to go back to college for a degree in maths I'd be 30 by the end of it. Is that too old for a career as researcher?

  • 1
    I strongly recommend you not to, nowadays people in the last year of math Ph.D. programs want the type of jobs you used to work, because there is very little open positions in academia. No matter how hard they work and how much they like to do research.
    – user22080
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 2:29
  • If you really want to "become a professor" you will find better chance by doing doctoral degree in business or some highly applied field. In those fields not so many people are interested in academia, supply and demand makes the competition less severed.
    – user22080
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 2:32
  • What math courses have you done? Commented May 1, 2019 at 22:50
  • Why exactly do you want to get a PhD in pure maths in the first place? I mean, there must be a certain area you are more than highly interested in - which is it? Because trying to get a PhD in pure maths without knowing what pure maths actually is might be a very long shot.
    – Zest
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 19:11

3 Answers 3


Bottom line is that it will be very hard since you lack a bachelors in math (or even the math training of a physicist).

My advice would be instead to go work for a while. It seems like we get a lot of degree change requests which are prompted from not wanting to leave the nest.

If you don't follow the go work advice, I would at least look for something a little closer to your training. Something in quantitative finance or econ or at least applied math or statistics. Not pure math.

  • Thanks for your input. I'm puzzled because around here we consider doctoral research as "going to work", though. I have worked in business in between college graduation and grad school, so the fear of leaving the nest is kind of in the past by now. I figured I'll really need a degree in maths, so I'm planing on getting an online degree while working for the 4 to 5 years after I finish my master's theses (which will involve machine learning and may also help me to get into a pure math's degree afterwards). Very long road ahead but I think it will be worth it!
    – user106227
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 6:19

A general answer to your question is probably complicated and it is likely that someone in your situation will need to get a new undergraduate degree.

But, since you are in Rio, you have another option. Take a summer course at IMPA on one of the introductory courses (e.g. Real Analysis). If you can manage that, then you might be able to switch to a M.Sc. there. With an M.Sc. from IMPA you have a chance to be accepted for a PhD in Europe.


As others have mentioned, answering in general is quite difficult and in reality depends a lot on which University you plan to enroll. It is also dependent on the kind of Mathematics you were exposed to during your undegrad studies.

You mention having a degree both in Business and in IT. Many IT courses I am aware of provide a solid-and given the appropriate choice of extra classes a quite strong-background in mathematics. Also during your business studies you were likely exposed to Math as well. That said, the typical prerequisite is a relevant MSc in Mathematics or a field like Physics, being the most related.

To provide a real example, the University of Athens Math Department allows students with an Msc, but not necessarily in Mathematics, to participate in the exams it holds for PhD students, and in special circumstances-i.e. if you can prove you are realy worth it-even someone without an Msc can apply. The only other prerequisite is submiting beforehand the general outline of what your research topic is about. And of course succesfully participating in the exams which can be quite challenging and in practice require someone being exposed and well-versed to what is typically studied during an Msc course in Mathematics. (And knowing Greek is a must..)

Finally, concerning being somehow "late" at Math research, perhaps you will find this stack post enlightening- Mathematicians who were late learners?

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