79

"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do" --- Eleanor Roosevelt. You can relax; for experienced academics, the baseline expectation is that most new graduate students (including ourselves at that age) are/were basically incompetent. That is the reason we give you 4-5 years of training before we ...


61

I am quite surprised to hear that a serious math grad program in the U.S. still operates in this fashion. Yes, decades ago, this was somewhat the style, sadly. Our/my program has not operated this way for decades. Many other top-rated places that formerly did operate this way have changed, so that, yes, admission (with funding) is a vote of confidence. So, ...


34

Another anecdote. When I was a first year Phd student in mathematics, I took a topology course. One theorem we covered was the Tietze extension theorem. I remember thinking about the proof for hours and hours, and feeling that it was completely opaque to me. I could verify each line, but I had no idea how anyone would have thought to put these ideas ...


26

Some universities need more teaching assistants, but cannot afford to pay for good ones. So they recruit unqualified teaching assistants as PhD students, and then kick them out when they fail their qualifying exams. This is not an ethical practice and you should not enroll in a PhD program that does this. At good quality universities, it is common for most ...


14

To build on Ben's answer, I'd just like to emphasize the "ask your supervisor" part. Especially as an early grad student, it is important to develop a relationship with your advisor where you can admit things you don't understand, and ask them "dumb questions" so they will be better able to teach you and help fill those gaps. You are ...


12

I won't say "don't worry about it" and I have anecdotes also, but let me give you a bit of perspective. Two main points. The first is that "insight" in mathematics isn't general, but specific to some area(s). You can have great insight into one area and very little in another. For me, I had deep insight into classical topology and ...


12

As in a comment by @GoodDeeds: in my U.S. R1 large state univ, my math dept has a cut-off of 23 for the spoken part of the TOEFL (=test of English as a foreign language), regardless of the rest of the application. Sometimes a 22 can make the cut, if faculty advocate for the applicant. Most of our grad students are supported as TAs (teaching assistants). ...


11

I know that some physics PhD programs were notorious for taking on extra students (knowing that they'd likely fail the qualifying exam) and just using them for the cheap TA labor and giving them a master's degree after 2 years.


9

PhD programs in the US don't typically expect a previous masters degree of any sort (it might be a lot more common in some fields than others, though; engineering would be one of them where it seems more common, though I am basing that mostly on seeing engineering CVs rather than having much familiarity with grad school in engineering). Having done a master'...


5

I was in a very similar situation, except that it was the IELTS rather than the TOEFL for me, and that I wanted to apply to PhD programmes in the UK, rather than the US. It all worked out fine. The role of a language test in PhD admissions is, in my experience, a binary measure. An applicant needs to be sufficiently proficient to be considered; but you ...


4

It seems to me that you really wouldn't want to end up with a PhD supervisor who would react negatively to you iniating a discussion about this. So don't worry about putting off a potential supervisor, but rather view this as a filtering out process from your side. The best time for stuff like this is towards the end of the process, shortly before you accept ...


4

Generally speaking, the purpose of a seminar is to "disseminate knowledge". Now, depending on which kind of knowledge is being "disseminated", there can be two types of seminars: research seminars and teaching seminars. Regardless of their type, seminars can be beneficial for two distinct groups: the presenter and the audience. Research ...


4

I assume in this answer that the graduate coordinator is an office person, rather than a faculty member. If they are a faculty member, then this answer doesn't apply, though in that case some of the responsibilities I describe may still fall to that faculty person; besides that, they are likely to have just as much influence as any other faculty member of ...


4

Since your supervisor talks to you this way, he most probably thinks that you are doing OK. Note that you are a first year PhD, so you are not expected to do something outstanding. The fact that you already have a supervisor is good enough.


3

Yes Declining is not the same as deferring. If you defer, then you are effectively still admitted, you just do not attend that year. If you decline, then you are saying you will not attend. The university will call up students on their wait list, and forget about you. If you change your mind you'll have to submit a new application next year, and deal with ...


3

The comments give good advice (EarlGrey and Jon Custer), but to answer the question, I think it would be unusual to turn you down for that reason alone. If you have already told them no, then you can try again in a year. But, in a competitive program the outcome might not be the same next time, so if you haven't yet acted, try to accept with a deferral. In ...


3

If you spend a lot of time and effort on this you could be spending it more effectively. The sort of doctoral education you get depends much more on your advisor, your relationship to them, and what you do yourself than the "ranking of the school. MA/MS programs are a bit different in that some are pretty much classroom based and some require some sort ...


3

Since homeschooling is a bit of a political hot potato, I suggest you research masters programs at conservative / religious univertities that are homeschool-friendly, for example: Liberty University (Baptist) - because the university is homeschool-friendly. Brigham Young University (LDS) - same thing. Biola University (Christian) University of Dallas (Roman ...


3

I really would like to leave myself the option of pursuing grad school in English, and I don’t know if I can do that with just an English minor. As far as I can tell, it varies by program. I would recommend choosing potential graduate schools that you want to apply to in advance so that you can make the optimal decisions right now. If schools that you want ...


3

No, it is not necessary to justify the W on your transcript; however, it could be useful to address it indirectly. I took a course in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Course and had to withdraw from it as I could not manage the workload due to several other courses which were somewhat difficult. Self-assessing your limits is a valuable skill. You withdrew from ...


3

(US perspective to this answer) No, it's not normal. However, it's also not ridiculous or anything. Unlike PhD degrees, which principally prepare you for research, MSc programs are often more like professional programs. It's weird to do a second PhD (even though many people seem to ask about it on this site), because most of what you learn in one PhD ("...


3

It's not math, but UC Berkeley Operations Research (IEOR) has a similar policy. About 50-67% pass the preliminary exams at the end of their first year of the MS-PHD program, and can proceed to the PhD program. I think you get the MS at this point, whether you pass or fail. A small number get a "conditional" pass and have to take the test the next ...


3

(In the context that the person in question is a faculty member, not the support staff for that faculty person...) I have the impression that this varies considerably from department to department, and also varies depending on the person, on the current dept head, and other politics within the dept. Let's call the person the "DGS" ("director ...


3

I suggest that you ask them directly. Being polite doesn't imply not being honest. It certainly shouldn't imply misleading you to believe you are doing well when you aren't. But the way you ask can influence the reply. Asking whether there are things they would suggest to help you improve is quite different from asking "How am I doing?". There ...


2

I can't speak for all disciplines, but I do not think that that program's harsh attitude is the norm in the US. I have heard from numerous sources (though perhaps they're all citing the same base source) that only about 50% of PhD students manage to finish their PhDs[1], but it was my understanding that that was mainly due to people dropping out, ...


2

It's not normal, but it does (rarely) happen in both countries.


2

If this is the sort of thing you focus your SoP on you are making a big mistake - missing an opportunity. Your SoP should be about the future; your plans, goals, and how you intent to achieve them. Wasting words on 'splaining old stuff won't get you accepted. The CV and transcripts are about the past. The SoP is about the future. Only bring up the past for ...


2

There is nothing inherently problematic about getting two degrees. There is certainly nothing problematic about getting sick. You appear to have went back to school a second time so the first is only loosely relevant. One should not be generally concerned about "extra" education when you are going for a PhD. (I have met people with multiple PhD's ...


2

Your best bet would be to try and talk to professors (either from your undergraduate or MS programs) regarding how you can get involved in research and gain the experience necessary to join a PhD program. Ideally, a thesis-based masters would be the best type of MS to pursue if you are interested in pursuing a PhD. Since you already have two MS degrees, ...


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