Sorry if this is off-topic, just close or delete this thread if that is the case.

Is anyone aware of 2-year Masters programs in mathematics that sufficiently prepare a student for a potential PhD, and accepts students who did not do so well (achieve the equivalent of an Australian honours degree) or did not major in mathematics?

It seems to me most masters programs in the UK and Australia are done over 1 year, and require at least Honours div. 2A for entry. While the masters programs from the well-known US universities require the same, and some even need students to pass PhD entrance exams for entry. Anyone familiar with programs that fit the description in the previous paragraph? Prestige really isn't a factor here.


From a (nostly) Australian perspective:

Do you want Masters by research, or by coursework? I assume by 2A you mean 2nd class 1st division (normally this would be called a 2-1).

Most research Masters degrees (in Australia) are 2 years, and you typically need a 2-2 (or a Desmond... geddit?) for entry (a credit average equivalent), a 2-1 is only needed for the vague hope of an APA scholarship (in practice a 1st is needed for that).

Coursework Masters are typically aimed at professionals to enhance CVs and skill-sets, so they're normally not the route to a PhD (especially in maths), and are usually 1 year.

My experience of the UK system is that it's largely similar to the Australian, though I have spent less time in it, a 2nd class degree is all that's required for entry into a Masters (so 2-2 would be sufficient).

The US system is somewhat different though (but warning, my experience with the US system is from the outside, so take this with a grain of salt). For those looking at a PhD, you typically join a graduate programme, which has 2 years of coursework followed by 3 years of research largely as a single continuous (or at least contiguous) programme. Often the 2 years coursework will gain you a Masters degree, but this is a "Masters in passing", and is not strictly necessary for progression (this set up is also why the entry exams might turn up at the start in the US).

So after all that, what you want to look for is "Masters by research" programmes, normally each department at the university will have some information about it on their website under something like "Postgraduate Study", or similar (perhaps "graduate school" in the US, but read carefully). These are the ones aimed at PhD preparation, though in Australia and the UK, there is typically no or minimal coursework, so if you need to catch up, it's up to you and your supervisor to ensure that this happens.

The less pleasant part is that if you only have a 3rd class degree, then you're going to have a tougher time of it. In this case you may want to talk to academics at the university you're interested in about what you can do to demonstrate appropriate ability. Another option is to bite the bullet and complete a 1 year masters course to attempt to demonstrate that you have the skills and knowledge required. A really extreme suggestion would be to complete another undergraduate degree specifically in mathematics (many universities offer a specific BMath or similar) to close the gap.

Finally, if you're in a position to go for a Masters by research, take some care picking a university that offers research in an area you're interested in. Think about what areas of maths you like, see where the people who do that are and talk to them. The vast majority of academics in Aus./UK/US are keen an interested to talk to people who want to get involved in their area and they tpyically don't stand on ceremony, so you don't have to be too worried about formalities (but be polite of course!).

  • what about people with a maths major, but no honours in Australia? Can such people jump onto a Masters program that trains students for graduate school? I see most schools in Australia including ANU, Macquarie, Wollongong etc need at least a 2-1 for their master by research programs. – anegligibleperson Jan 10 '13 at 13:26
  • This may take a few posts, so bear with me.I'm not sure what precise programmes you're looking at, but Macquarie (where I currently am) now has an MRes degree, which replaces honours, is two years, and is intended to lead to a PhD, the entry requirement is a Bachelors degree (no honours - that's what they're trying to replace!): hdr.mq.edu.au/information_about/research_training_degrees/… – Luke Mathieson Jan 10 '13 at 13:39
  • ANU has a 1 year coursework Masters in mathematics designed to build maths skills, nominally it does require a 2-1, but note that admission with only a Bachelors is possible: studyat.anu.edu.au/programs/7619XMMASC;overview.html – Luke Mathieson Jan 10 '13 at 13:41
  • Sydney offers a MSc program (including maths), which only requires 2-2: sydney.edu.au/courses/Master-of-Science – Luke Mathieson Jan 10 '13 at 13:44
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    There are some exceptions to your line "Coursework Masters are typically aimed at professionals to enhance CVs and skill-sets, so they're normally not the route to a PhD (especially in maths)", most notably "Part III" in Cambridge. (This is not relevant to someone in aneligibleperson's position, but for the sake of completeness...) – user1729 Jan 10 '13 at 13:46

I would suggest the online master program of John Hopkins University. GRE is not required, and if you are not a math major, you can start with the undergraduate courses.

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