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I really need some opinions/advice on my situation.

My background

I'm studying for my master degree in mathematics. I have always (since I was 14) wanted to do my own research one day. As I grew older, I knew that mathematics was what I wanted to do. So I went to the university to study mathematics. After having encountered a course in group theory I knew that I belonged to the algebraic part of mathematics. I did my bachelor project in group theory and when I became a graduate student (September 2013), I took courses and made a project supporting my interest in algebra.

Along the way I created the vision that I would finish my master degree as a dedicated student in algebra. In order to realize this vision my plan was to study abroad for one semester taking new algebraic courses.

The situation

My situation today is that my study abroad semester begins tomorrow. As mentioned my dream is to do my own research, but more generally/important: I want to develop new ideas and be dedicated to something and I would love to follow/explore my passion.

My first thought (as many other students): I should get a PhD. So I did some research and figured out that there was an available position at the university I'm currently studying at in geometric group theory.

I don't know much about geometric group theory, but I do know that I love group theory. So I would really like to know if this is an opportunity or if I should just forget it.

I don't want to pursue a PhD for anything in this world. I just want to stay focus on creating a meaningful work life around my passion.

Any advice?


Further remarks

I'm a student from Denmark and I'm studying abroad in Austria for one semester. After my study abroad semester I still have to study one year for my master degree in Denmark. However this year consists of a half year with elective courses and a half year where I'm making my master's thesis.

I don’t know much about the PhD position. I found it from a Google search (: “PhD position group theory”). There is only given a starting date and an e-mail address for contact. I’m going to attend a course held by the supervisor of the project, so the whole thing is a coincidence.

I have investigated my opportunities for a position at my home university. One of my supervisors, a professor in group theory, told me that he couldn't offer me a position, since it was a question about money, but would like to recommend me. I don't think the university accepts PhD students without a master degree and the positions are without project descriptions.

However there is also another university (in Denmark) with a talent program where it is possible to get a PhD position without having a master degree. I contacted them and they told me I should apply after my study abroad semester (because I would have a stronger profile). But I don't know my chances.

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    Hi, HelloProfile. I have to admit that I'm struggling to see the question that is generally applicable here. Right now, this looks like a question that is unique to your own situation that can't really help others—which is against Stack Exchange guidelines. – aeismail Mar 2 '14 at 22:27
  • Geometric group theory is the only cool part of algebra. (Ha ha only serious.) So yes, you should go for it. – JeffE Mar 3 '14 at 5:13
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I'm having a lot of trouble nailing down your question. After reading it several times, I think you mean that you have an opportunity to go on to study a PhD in geometric group theory at your current university. (Is it specifically relevant that you are going abroad tomorrow? How does this fit in with the rest?) From this I am guessing that you are not in the US, because in the US one would not have a position in "geometric group theory" specifically; one would just apply to the entire math department. It could be helpful to know what country you are studying in.

So I think you are really asking whether you should go on to do a PhD? You say that your motivation is to do mathematical research: for that you essentially need a PhD, yes.

Along the way I created the vision that I would finish my master degree as a dedicated student in algebra.

Yes, okay, you're studying algebra. I feel like I'm missing some nuance here: what's the "vision"?

As mentioned my dream is to do my own research, but more generally/important: I want to develop new ideas and be dedicated to something and I would love to follow/explore my passion.

Again, I feel like I'm missing a nuance. Doing your own research means precisely to developing your new ideas and being dedicated to something. Doesn't everyone want to "follow/explore their passion"? That comes off sounding mean, which is not my intent: rather, I feel like you're trying to say something here and I'm missing it.

I don't know much about geometric group theory, but I do know that I love group theory. So I would really like to know if this is an opportunity or if I should just forget it.

It seems clear that a PhD in geometric group theory is an indeed an opportunity to do everything that you said you wanted to do...in geometric group theory, which is a subfield of the field that you say you like. Whether you will like GGT specifically seems best answered by learning some and finding out. If the PhD program is so specifically invested in GGT that if you find out you don't want to do GGT per se then you'll need to leave the program, then you should study GGT on your own / during your master's degree first in order to find out whether it's interesting enough to you to spend years of your life on. (I think GGT is really interesting. If I hadn't done arithmetic geometry, I think I would have had fun with it. So I assure you that there is nothing wrong with that subsubfield of mathematics!)

I don't want to pursue a PhD for anything in this world. I just want to stay focus on creating a meaningful work life around my passion.

Huh? This time I don't understand at all. Please elaborate/rephrase.

  • Thanks for your response. I appreciate it. First 1) The position is offered by the foreign university (in Austria) I’m visiting. 2) My home university is located in Denmark – HelloProfile Mar 2 '14 at 19:31
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    @HelloProfile: OK, that's helpful. You might want to edit that into your question. It would also be helpful to explain the timeframe (will you be finishing your master's degree while you are in Austria, or would you have to go back to Denmark to do so?) and also what opportunities there are in your home university in Denmark. – Pete L. Clark Mar 2 '14 at 19:36
  • Done. I think I’ll contact the supervisor of the project to get the details. – HelloProfile Mar 2 '14 at 20:20

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