I am a soon to be fourth year graduate student in mathematics (PhD track). Originally, I wanted to work in academia, but am realizing this is an uncertain path. I feel compelled to finish my PhD degree because I have only two years left (next academic year I must attend as well) and am already pretty far in. But, I want to prepare myself in the meantime for the likely possibility that I will not get a job in academia.

I would like to get into computer science. I did a minor in computer science during my undergrad, so it is not completely foreign to me. But, I do not know what I should do next. Should I be applying for masters programs in CS or is there a better path to get into the computer science industry? I have seen that people have been successful with coding bootcamps and what not, but is this the kind of things that most employers are looking for?

  • Every path is uncertain.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jun 6, 2020 at 19:53
  • You would find a life of coding, per se, extremely boring. Look around at the things that require an analytical mind. I doubt that you need any additional degrees. But look beyond CS. Finance, for example.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jun 6, 2020 at 19:57
  • @Buffy I just feel like I am behind the game in finance. I am doing very theoretical mathematics and haven't got a clue of where I would even start if I wanted to pursue a career in finance.
    – user132498
    Commented Jun 6, 2020 at 20:14
  • Ask people who hire in the field or who have been hired. The users on this site are academics, not industry people. Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 23:19

2 Answers 2


As "computer science" covers anything from front end web development to artificial intelligence so I recommend you try to go in a direction which utilizes your mathematics background. Look into more advanced computer science where your PHD will mean something. In that case you will probably want to take courses rather than the 3 month cram sessions. Those teach you to get a job coding even though you were previously in house keeping. I know because I've worked with them. Some are really good coders. You don't even need a B.S. anymore to do most programming. Do something that is at your level.


Coding is a useful skill but not a career. You are unlikely to need any additional degrees but some self study would be very useful. A coding bootcamp in, say Python, might be a place to start if you haven't programmed before.

But you will need some additional work in algorithms and their analysis as well as computing theory (computability, for example). But with a degree in math you can study those things on your own from books.

It was long ago but I taught myself computing after finishing a math PhD due to the lack of math jobs in academia at the time. Later I was able to get some good instruction in summer courses and such.

But, don't expect any road you take to be easy. An analytical mind is a big help in many sorts of things, but it doesn't necessarily pay you well. In industry you will be more involved in product related activities and you might find it boring. If you are lucky you can get in to some research lab at one of the big places that value such skills as you have.

If you are still a student you can wander in to the CS department and talk to a couple of people (yeah, coronavirus...) and get an idea about a possible path. Just a list of courses that they give with a list of textbooks might be enough.

  • I take your point, but do I need to be concerned that I have the correct accreditation? Is it enough to just go up to employers and claim that I have done a bunch of additional work in my spare time? I worry that this may not be taken seriously.
    – user132498
    Commented Jun 6, 2020 at 20:24
  • I doubt it. With a PhD you have proven that you can learn and be productive. But for low level jobs (that you don't want) it might be an issue. If some place wants to check boxes you probably don't want to work there anyway. But since you are learning something new, don't forget that practice is required. And practice.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jun 6, 2020 at 20:29
  • 1
    @user132498 - what country? In the US, they'll interview you, and if you seem competent, they'll hire you. If you don't still seem competent 3 months later, they'll just fire you. Commented Jun 6, 2020 at 22:02
  • 3
    Typically (in the US) you prove that you know how to code, reason about algorithms, etc. by answering technical questions during several rounds of interviews. A PhD in math is a SERIOUS accreditation - you just need to prove that you're good at talking about analytical problems in a non-academic context and that you're not totally clueless about coding etc. (This is even more true in finance - lots of places are happy to hire math people with solid interpersonal skills with no finance background and expect you to pick up what you need quickly on the job).
    – Dorebell
    Commented Jun 7, 2020 at 0:18
  • @AlexanderWoo And in Australia, if they're not convinced that you're 100% ready to contribute the moment you're hired, they won't hire you, because they're afraid you'll take whatever training they gave you and jump ship to another company.
    – nick012000
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 4:06

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