I'm a Software Engineering and Mathematics student. And I'll probably get my engineering degree much sooner than my Maths degree (I'm not sure I'll get it, but I'll try, as Eng. takes a lot of time off my day).

So, my question is pretty simple: Can an engineer get a Maths doctorate?

For further details, my engineering course has pretty basic maths stuff: Calculus, a bit of logic, introductory number theory, graph theory, some numerical analysis, etc.

However, I'm enrolled in a pure maths course which covers pretty 'advanced' stuff, will it matter that I passed these subjects even if I don't get my math degree?

E: Please consider reopening this question, I've added details that may be relevant to this particular scenario.

  • 1
    In a short answer, yes!
    – The Guy
    Apr 21, 2016 at 0:44
  • 1
    In principle, of course, in practice, not-so-likely, depending very-strongly on further details... perhaps contrary to @TheFireGuy's comment. In particular, there is an apparently-common misunderstanding among engineers of various sorts and computer scientists of various sorts as to the substance of mathematics... often involving a belief that mathematics is but a small part of what an engineer knows, say. In one sense the latter assertion is true, but there is an enormous amount of mathematics, especially the "live" parts, that are not in view for most engineers, etc. Not a moral failing! :) Apr 21, 2016 at 0:51
  • @paulgarrett That's weird, I haven't encountered many people that thought way. This is especially true in my case: In my country, the standard engineering course is about 6 years long, and mine at least, has very little mathematics, just basic stuff. That's why I also enrolled in a math course (the reason I'm asking this question is because the math course I'm in is $\approx 7 $ years long, and when I get my Eng. and start working, I may not be able to attend to many of my math classes). Apr 21, 2016 at 2:00
  • It's not clear why you think the duplicate doesn't address your situation? As far as I can tell, Case #1 in the marked duplicate is exactly about your situation (having a degree in another field but lots of advanced coursework in your desired field.)
    – ff524
    Apr 21, 2016 at 3:18
  • @ff524 Well, there are a few questions I'd like to get an answer to: For example, I have (or will have) quite a bit of coursework in mathematics, but, as I said, I'm not sure I'll finish the entire course: Will the coursework still make an impact, given that I've done passed those subjects in a different university? Apr 21, 2016 at 23:34

1 Answer 1


The title of your degree does not matter as much as the courses you have taken. If you have taken several upper-level courses, have convincing letters from mathematics faculty, and demonstrate your interest in mathematics in general, you have every chance of getting into a doctoral program in mathematics.

However, if you finish undergrad with only the minimum of math courses required for your engineering degree, and then apply for a math doctoral program, admissions committees will not look fondly on that. Then you might have to supplement your math background in some other way.

This also applies to people with math degrees that are not particularly deep. In the end it's the experience you have had with mathematics that counts, not the particular title of your major/degree.

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