I'm an international student in a master program in applied math department in the United States. There are two ways that I have known in which the person like me can find the research opportunities:

  • Independent research: do it on your own. Is it common for most math students to do research in this way?
  • Research for the master thesis: As I know, the credits for the master program in applied math in my school are mainly for courses. You will not do research until you are writing thesis.

What else opportunities can a math student like me have for doing research?

  • 1
    I got the impression that a student graduating from a non-terminal masters program is expected to have a publication; so ask the other students. Mar 19, 2012 at 7:01

3 Answers 3


Find the hallway where your department's faculty have their offices.

Knock on the first door.

When the professor answers, say "Hi, I'm [name]. I'm a master's student, and I'm interested in doing research. Do you have some time to talk?"

Repeat for the remaining doors.

(It also helps to have some idea what kind of research you want to do, and to do some background reading on the professors' research before you talk to them. We like it when students say "I read your paper on X, and I have a few questions.")

  • Thank your for your answer. I'm a little bit wondering to what extend a student can/should understand a professor's papers usually in order to talk about that field.
    – user35
    Mar 19, 2012 at 15:01
  • 2
    That varies significantly by sub-field and by professor. For some areas of math, you need three years of deep study to even start talking intelligently about research; in others, you can start doing research almost on day one. The important thing is to make an honest attempt and be honestly interested. (If you've made an honest attempt and are honestly not interested, don't knock on that professor's door.)
    – JeffE
    Mar 19, 2012 at 15:14
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    People try that with me and I usually tell them to go away. Much better to be more specific "I read your paper on X and have questions" or even better, email them first before showing up.
    – Suresh
    Mar 21, 2012 at 15:33

I'm afraid I'm not familiar enough with the structures for funding mathematics research to comment directly. However, there could be the possibility of doing research as a part-time "job" to help earn some money. Since it's part of the university, it's normally allowed under the immigration rules (although you should check this for yourself, and this does not constitute legal advice!).

I would suspect, however, that in mathematics, this would be primarily the applied mathematics groups who would need such work, as they are more likely to have computer codes or experimental apparati to prepare and use.

  • The question was about research, not about funding. In most mathematical disciplines, the former does not require the latter. Moreover, students who approach profs about funding before discussing research are usually viewed with considerable distrust.
    – JeffE
    Mar 19, 2012 at 15:16
  • The issue at hand was that there is the possibility that a professor doing grant-based work might have a position available for a part-time student (undergraduate or graduate). I was not considering the case of full-time employment in the research group, just another means of starting research work. (I would imagine a "help wanted"-type scenario here.)
    – aeismail
    Mar 19, 2012 at 15:22

take a look at projectnudge.com. They have a website that allows researchers to post and apply to research opportunities. I think in your case you can post a statement that you are a master's student interested in XXX and looking for collaborators to write a paper. If you want a collaborator who is a grad student or interested in a particular topic, just say so in your post.

  • 1
    Projectnudge (at least the domain) seems to no longer exist.
    – Peteris
    Apr 10, 2014 at 7:06

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