I studied math as an undergrad in India, and after two years away from the field, have decided to come back to it. I am interested in learning more about pure mathematics, and am interested in the prospect of becoming a researcher. I have high grades in my undergraduate degree.

To this end, I aim to do an MS, but this may have to be in India, due to financial constraints, and then eventually a PhD, which I will prefer to do in the West, as those programmes are comparatively stronger. If I do well in the entrance exams and make it to one of the better IITs, what are the odds of being admitted to a good math doctoral programme?

  • I don't understand the downvotes and putting the question on hold. The question is perfectly pertinent to grad school admissions and is very general. Indian institutes don't give out PhD admission stats so I have to ask. And whatever happened to treating new guys with a softer touch? – Student Aug 14 '19 at 4:52
  • please accept the answer if it's helpful. – Shiva Aug 23 '19 at 1:38

I am a CS major at Courant at NYU. Whatever I say here is from my experience in the CS PhD program, and might be extrapolated to math as well.

My suggestion is that you could consider applying for PhD programs directly in the US, without a masters, since many PhD programs in the US, to my knowledge, do not require a masters degree. The PhD programs here are usually self-contained, with certain mandatory course requirements and freedom to take additional courses of your choice so that you learn many advanced concepts before conducting research. Plus, PhD students here at Courant are guaranteed funding for the first five years of your program, which is the typical time taken to complete the program or get close to completion. Many universities here also have combined and fully-funded MS+PhD programs.

I was in a similar situation as you are in now, when I was finishing up my B.Tech in CS in India. I was confused among three options - masters in India, masters in US, PhD in US. I ended up working in industry for couple of years in India to help make a decision more slowly, and this is what I learned. Masters in the US is useful mainly only in two situations - i) you are changing fields, and you wish to show strong coursework in your new field in a reputed college or university, ii) you are not interested in PhD and just want a high-paying job to settle. Masters in India is a very good option, especially in good universities such as the IITs, and there is no doubt that you will certainly increase your chances of securing admission in a good university in the US. A masters degree conveys the message of greater conviction and dedication to the field of your interest. With good recos and good grades, and maybe some publications (depending on your field), you are certain to secure a very good spot in the US.

But if you i) already have good grades, ii) aren't changing your fields, iii) already are clear in your areas of interest and the type of research problems you want to work on, then my advice is to apply for PhD or MS+PhD programs in the US, which are fully funded in most cases and also have coursework.

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