I'm not entirely sure that this is the right medium for this question, so feel free to close it at will.

I'm basically wondering where there are some strong programs to get a masters in mathematics. While finding a list of these isn't so difficult, I'm aware that some of them serve mainly to help those whose undergraduate math education is a little weak to be a PhD candidate. I'm going to assume (perhaps wrongfully) that I'm not in that category. So my question is this: Assuming I'm qualified to pursue a PhD in mathematics, but am slightly uneasy about a five year commitment, which abbreviated graduate school options are available to me?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you looking worldwide or locally? If locally, where are you located/searching? $\endgroup$
    – user20266
    Jul 14, 2012 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ "Five year commitment"? At least in the U.S. entering graduate students do not sign on such a commitment with their own blood. The PhD program includes MS as a subset, and if a student decides to stop at some point after getting MS, it's their decision. $\endgroup$
    – user31373
    Jul 14, 2012 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @mixedmath sincerest apologies for what clearly offended you, sir. I have done quite a bit of research, but most of the masters programs don't admit to being more "rehab"-based. It's only through people in the know that I've been able to discern very few that seem to fit my needs. $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2012 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ @LeonidKovalev I am aware of that, but stating that I'll probably leave after my masters isn't something I'd want to write on a PhD application, nor would I wish to deceive the admission's people. $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2012 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Thomas I'm open to going abroad, but I'd prefer to stay in the U.S. Within the U.S., I haven't too many preferences, just that I'd probably want a more city-esque experience. Right now, I'm at Cornell. $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2012 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


If your goal is to do research in pure mathematics, then even if you are not 100% sure that you are going to reach it (who can be?), I'd recommend you to apply to Ph.D. programs. A terminal M.S. program is not likely to be a good fit precisely because it's designed to serve a different group of people with different objectives. As someone serving on a graduate committee, I don't have a problem with an applicant who is interested in math and has what it takes to study it, even if the applicant is not quite sure that s/he is going to spend 5+ years here. It's easier to deal with someone who can do PhD but chooses not to, than the other way around.


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