I am a student from Sri Lanka, and I have just finished my degree. Because of the rules of my University ( My program was a direct intake for Mathematical Finance specialization, and despite this I have followed mathematics subjects the most) I was not allowed to take any abstract algebra courses. I have completed the other courses which Pure Mathematics Special students undertake such as in Analysis and have good results. I will be undertaking a reading course for Algebra with the senior lecturer at the University at whilst he said he will give a letter as evidence as possibly at best a letter from the faculty it won't be officially recognized in the transcript

So my main question is that would such a letter be recognized, even if it is signed by the dean of the faculty when apply for a phd? I hope I will be able to cover the usual algebra syllabus and maybe even more.

  • Hi, and welcome to Academia.SE! As written, this question is likely to be closed as "too broad" because it contains several different questions within it; accordingly, I am going to edit to truncate to what you identify as your "main question." I believe that you may find what answers we can give for your other questions elsewhere on the site. If you disagree with my edits, please feel free to revert or modify.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 19:21

2 Answers 2


I would also like to know if its possible what kind of undergraduate requirements does an Applied Maths program usually look into? Would I be correct in assuming that they won't be looking in to algebra that much?

Not having had an undergraduate course in abstract algebra wouldn't be much of problem for admission to the graduate program at my institution (which focuses on applied and industrial mathematics.) Background in analysis, differential equations, modeling, probability, and numerical analysis is much more important. Significant background (such as a minor) in some area of science or engineering is also helpful.

  • The part of the question that I've quoted in my answer was edited out of the current version of the question- the quoted material wasn't drawn from my imagination... Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 20:18

Seemingly the question and Brian Borchers' answer refer to "applied math" in a certain popular (if narrow) tradition, so probably Brian's answer answers the question appropriately.

However, if "applied math" is construed as "math that is applied", then it would certainly include abstract algebra and number theory, for cryptography and error-correcting coding. It would also include things toward design-of-experiments. Game theory? It really does appear that there is no simply-described subset of mathematics that is "applicable" while others aren't.

But/and then returning to the part of the question about certifying acquaintance with abstract algebra: a direct letter of recommendation commenting on a "reading course" could potentially be stronger than a mere grade-on-a-transcript, so I'd think it'd not be an obstacle. If anything, the evidence of taking initiative is a big plus, in itself, when I look at grad applications.

  • I agree very much with the point that Paul makes here about the difference between "Applied Mathematics" (what's commonly understood as the content of a graduate program called applied mathematics) and applied mathematics (actual applications of mathematics that might make involve a wide variety of mathematical topics in diverse application areas.) Sadly "Applied Mathematics" has come to mean something very specific. Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 0:07

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