When you are close to finishing your bachelor/undergraduate studies and start to think about your masters, you might have encountered the following problem: With your courses in the bachelor degree finished you have a better idea of which area of mathematics interests you. So you want to find a university to study that field.

But it seems quite hard to find resources on the fields universities focus on. Most university rankings rank universities just in the general "mathematics" category. Which does not seem like a good criteria anymore when looking for a university for your masters degree. I believe I like probability theory for example and talked to someone starting his master in Bonn (Germany) next semester. He showed me a course catalogue and it appeared to lack probability theory (e.g. stochastic processes/markov chains, time series, etc.) courses completely (to be fair I only skimmed it so I might have missed something).

But my point is: different universities probably have different emphases on different areas of mathematics. And I would really love an overview of the emphases of different Universities. But I was unable to find such an overview yet. One reason might be that I haven't used the right keywords for my search. But I am not sure what to look for.

And sure I could just go through universities one by one find their course catalog and try to gauge their focus, until I find one that suits me. And that is what I will probably end up doing if I won't get an answer more easily. But given that this is probably a common problem I would have though there should be a list/overview/guide somewhere. Or if not, it might be worth to start a community wiki creating such a list of universities and their main research/teaching areas.

I hope this is not off-topic


closed as off-topic by Matthew Towers, Johanna, José Carlos Santos, Will Jagy, hardmath Mar 16 '18 at 21:44

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question is not about mathematics, within the scope defined in the help center." – Matthew Towers, Johanna, José Carlos Santos, hardmath
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ I doubt that such a list exists. Who would compile it? How would one keep it up to date? I think your plan to look "one by one" is best - search those you think you can get into, those with generally strong departments. It may be too early in your career to single out a narrow particular interest. And remember: there are probably several good places. You aren't looking for a unique answer. $\endgroup$ – Ethan Bolker Mar 16 '18 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ @EthanBolker it is true that it is a bit early to single out interests, but at the same time I would like to learn more about probability theory and if the university I go to wouldn't even offer that... it would be quite weird. I am in this weird spot, because I started with economics, so I picked the uni I am at because of that subject, and my uni does not even offer pure maths at a bachelor degree (they do now as a master for people like me who are disappointed by the economics/business part of the mixed bachelor degree they are offering). And the profile my uni offers is kind of... $\endgroup$ – Felix B. Mar 16 '18 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ The best source of people who know what the strengths of different universities is your undergraduate professors. Ask them. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Ruiter Mar 16 '18 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ ... the stuff I would be interested in but at the same time I am not sure if it is wise to stay at a uni which has such a small maths faculty because of the fact that it is always offered in a mix with another subject. And the second problem could be that the uni would be completely unknown for maths. $\endgroup$ – Felix B. Mar 16 '18 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @JoshuaRuiter they kinda want me to stay. And that certainly has its advantages - I already know the professors. It is very simple to get help because of it. And they offer courses I would be interested in as well. But the disadvantages are: The number of students in maths is extremely low and it is hard to find people to talk about it with. Which I am missing. And at such a small maths faculty you drift apart in interest/ability extremely fast. And then the fact that the uni is unknown for maths. I don't know how impactful that would be later on. $\endgroup$ – Felix B. Mar 16 '18 at 12:52

Your comment suggests you misunderstood my comment. I was not giving advice regarding whether you should stay at your current institution or go somewhere else for a masters or Phd, because your question did not ask about that. I do not know enough about your situation to speak to that.

Whether or not your professors at your current university want you to stay there for a masters has nothing to do with your ability to ask their opinion on the strengths of other institutions, so ask them.

My advice was and is to ask your professors what they know about strengths of other universities. For example, a given professor will likely have a good sense of the strengths and weaknesses of any institutions where they got a PhD, where they did a post-doc, or anywhere they taught for a few years.

Beyond that, they might also know a little bit about where their own research collaborators work, and be able to tell you how strong those institutions are in at least their own particular area of research.


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