I have been offered a scholarship for a masters in theoretical physics at my home university, the scholarship covers the fees along with a decent stipend but I would rather pursue a masters in maths at a different university.

I feel alot of pressure to take the money for finical reasons but ultimately its not what I want to do. Part of me is considering accepting the offer and using it to save for a masters in maths. I feel I will be at a disadvantage trying to do a PhD in mathematics if I take this scholarship since I will have effectively spent 2 years of my prime going doing the wrong route.

If do a masters in maths I will likely have to take out a loan of about 8000-10,000. I'm afraid this will be too much to pay of with a PhD stipend and result in me having to work for a year or two again delaying my career.

Would the time spent doing a masters in theoretical physics put me at a disadvantage when applying for math phd's?

Do typical PhD stipends have enough room to pay off loans?

  • is your bachelor's also in physics? Because then switching to math could be viewed as making one change of direction instead of two. – A Simple Algorithm Apr 6 '19 at 17:47

First, my advice is to never think of a graduate school stipend as a way to earn a living (or to save for future goals). Stipends are design to barely cover minimum costs of living, and often fall short of that goal.

Second, I'm not sure whether a Master's degree in theoretical physics will help or hurt an application to a maths Ph.D. It seems that it could be related, depending on the subfield of maths that interests you.

Third, in many fields you can apply to Ph.D. programs directly without a completed M.S. degree first. Maybe that is also possible in your case.

  • I wasn't aware that any field required a MS before you can apply to the PhD program. Some fields/schools do require a Master's as part of the PhD training if you don't have a Master's already, but they combine them in a "MS/PhD" track. – A Simple Algorithm Apr 6 '19 at 17:40
  • @A Simple Algorithm in Europe, almost all PhD programs are research only (no classes), and you are required to have a master's first. – setholopolus Apr 7 '19 at 7:56

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