Masters' in Applied or Computational Math

I've been looking at various applied masters' in math programs, but the tuition of many of the best programs in the US is prohibitively expensive given a lack of information about student placement (only a mention of where the best students have gone, spotty statistics about where the median student ended up).

Where are the well-respected yet less expensive programs? Are there any good programs in Canada or Europe that place well into industry (whether it be industrial math, finance, insurance, etc.)?

Edit: To clarity, I am mainly interested in the financial industry post-graduation, but I'm to other scientific applications of applied math. I don't want to get a financial math degree because I feel it is too niche.

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Don't know your circumstances, but usually phd programs come with stipends that pay you 20000-30000. Often if you pass the first year or two of the phd program but choose to leave, the program will usually offer a masters. I don't know if it is advisable to apply to a phd program with the intention of not finishing. –  William Jul 30 '12 at 2:04
AFAIK many schools in the US will offer financial support and TAship (jargon for salary) for PhD programs, but not for masters. In Canada, however, master's students (thesis programs) are always offered scholarships. Canada has many excellent schools: UBC, McGill, Toronto, and Waterloo, with Waterloo considered more industrious I guess. –  user2468 Jul 30 '12 at 3:51
Definitely Canada; +1 for this comment. Tuition at Canadian universities can be very much lower than American schools, but you may have to pay a little bit more than Canadian students for being an "International Student" applying to the university from outside Canada. Here in Canada, I know many good math students who went to the University of Toronto for grad work and loved it there. Waterloo is considered to be very, very rigorous, and I know someone who went there but after arriving considered switching from Math to Computer Science. Universities in Ontario are good for grad-level Math. –  Nicholas Kinar Aug 1 '12 at 20:43
For a (sometimes biased) look at universities in Canada, check out Maclean's university rankings issue (oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2011/10/26/…). You should be able to get a copy of this magazine (by special request) from your local bookstore. Even if it's geared toward undergraduate students, it still provides a glimpse into the different universities in Canada. –  Nicholas Kinar Aug 1 '12 at 21:04

It is very difficult to quantify where a student "ends up" after completing a program. It is easy enough to determine what percentage of undergraduates move on to graduate school, but for post-graduate work, where do you draw the line? Immediately after graduation? 5 years? 10? Do you quantify the percentage that attempt to stay in academia? Does it have any relevance if the person gets a job after getting their degree, hates it, and quits 6 months later to open a surf shop in Cabo?

Regardless of those issues, there are some other things to consider. Many schools accept students into Master's programs only on "special case" bases, such as when an employer is paying for the degree, or the student is attending school part time prior to formally applying for a PhD program. This is not always true, but in general, it has become more difficult and expensive to fund PhD students; the cost of supporting a Master's student is in fact worse (most graduate students do not provide the university/their advisor with a return on investment in the first two years; the real gain only comes after the student is mostly done with coursework and can spend time actually doing things). Consequently, finding funding for Master's students is even more increasingly difficult.

This, combined with extremely high inflation in tuition and fees in the US, makes Master's programs quite expensive. Adding to these frustrations are the fact that some Master's programs are not optimally-designed for your objectives; as an anecdote, the university where I am studying puts more stringent course requirements on a student for the M.S. program than the M.A. program, meaning that if I wanted to do an M.S., I am essentially limited to an algebra program -- it is otherwise financially and temporally unfeasible to attempt an analysis program or topology program with the coursework requirements imposed on the M.S. degree. The M.A. degree, which requires no thesis, leaves more options open, and so I can actually specialize in the M.A. program more, despite my interest in completing a thesis in line with my job-oriented work.

So, in order to measure expense vs. quality-of-education, you truly have to consider many, many factors:

• Does the university have a program for you in-name-only (as in, they may offer the program on paper, but is it really something designed for what you want to use it for)?

• Are you able to qualify for loans, in-state tuition, scholarships, or other support?

• Do you intend on going to school full-time?

• You are concerned with industry placement. Which industry?

• How do you intend to leverage your Master's degree for career gain? (This question is particularly important to understand, since you are explicitly looking to enter industry). Do you intend to do so through contacts, publications, experience, original research, or ...?

So in short, there are many good programs everywhere. Without knowing where you are from or what you can qualify for, it is impossible to give a proper valuation of a university that suits your needs. What you should really be looking at is first: what's the best university that suits your interests; second: how do you intend to pay for it AND support yourself during that time (after all, food is very important to mathematicians); third: what do you intend to do after completing the program.

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I would probably be looking for finance or operations research positions in industry. I am more interested in an applied math masters than a mathematical finance degree because the latter can be quite a bit more expensive and is more niche. –  Emir Aug 1 '12 at 21:18
That might narrow your field a little bit more. Finance and stochastics are closely-coupled; however, stochastic methods pop up in many applications, from signal processing to engineering to biomedicine. I can't rank schools offhand because I have incomplete information; however, I do have anecdotal evidence from friends and colleagues who have studied at various places, and I know that they had good experiences at Univ. Texas at Austin, and Univ. Maryland at College Park (although they were not directly involved in such work, their studies were related). Both are public schools. –  Arkamis Aug 1 '12 at 21:24

At my graduate school in the U.S. (in mathematics, where you could do pure or applied), almost all students are offered an assistantship. If you're not offered one, it's because you're not good enough to go there but they're happy to take your own money if you want to pay. The assistantship pays around \$14K (U.S.) per year, and it goes up as you get closer to graduating. For a masters student, half of tuition is paid, but not fees. For a PhD student, 100% of tuition is paid, but not fees. Either way, you also get free health insurance. For this, you are going to do recitations, teaching, or grading. I guess a few people get short term (1 or 2 semesters) research assistantships. It takes 10-20 hours a week, depending on the job and your experience. Also, you have the opportunity to work during the summer for another \$2500-\$3500, depending on the job. I believe the situation is going to be somewhat similar no matter where you go. That is, if you don't get an assistantship, you're not really good enough to go there. And, your assistantship will probably cover tuition and pay you and give you health insurance. So, the cost of the school isn't all that important. UPDATE: I forgot to mention something. At my school which is a state school, if you're a masters student who has to pay half of tuition, you will get the in-state rate, which is less than half as much as non-resident tuition, even if you're not from that state. If you're not on assistantship at all, you won't get that rate unless you are from that state. So, a masters student at my school would pay only around \$4000 in tuition, plus \$1000 in fees perhaps. And, you're making \$17000 or so, plus free health insurance. So, it's not terrible. And, again, I think this is probably pretty standard as far as state schools in the U.S. That is, you'd pay the in-state tuition.

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Have you considered data science?