Graduate School in Math or a Math-related Area


I will post this information sheet on my website, along with a folder of some useful information, and another Timeline at


Keep an Open Mind


          Try to get advice from faculty (or former students) and follow it.  Weve been through this before ourselves, as well as, with former students.


          Keep your options open for as long as you can, especially if you are undecided!




Math, Applied Math, Operations Research, Computer Science, Computational Math or Science, Scientific Computation, Statistics, Financial Math, Actuarial Science, Bio-Math, Related (Engineering, Theoretical Physics, Economics), Math Ed (another presentation), etc. 


         Begin by going online, searching for a school, program, or area.  Look at the courses offered, degrees, and research currently being done by faculty (you will be working with one at some point).   


         Consider more than one area and program, even within the same school

o  You may be able to get funding for one, and not the other.

o  You may be undecided at this time.  You dont have to pick an area now, just a list of schools and programs.



         Make yourself stand out from all of the other math majors who will be applying.


o  Apply for a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), Summer Math Programs, or some kind of math research. 

  Try the Government:  NSA, DOD, or DOE, etc.

  Summer Program for Women in Math at GWU


o  Try a Directed Study this fall/next spring. 


o  Make sure you have done a presentation, preferably at some conference, if you can.  Ask faculty for help with this.


o  Work in the Math Learning Center  (MLC) or TA for a Math course (offer to do it for free if you have to, in order to gain experience!).


o  Consider taking the Putnam exam or participating in the Math Olympiad.


o  Think about a summer or semester abroad (particularly if it involves math), such as semesters in Budapest.


o  In the fall, be on the lookout for information on conferences like Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics. Attend and present.

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Make sure you have all of your ducks in a row




         Math 325 (Real Analysis 2)

         Math 326 (DE) and Math 345 (Numerical Analysis) for applied areas

         Math 333 (Linear 2) and Math 330 (Algebra) are good choices for all areas.

         Maths 360/361 (Prob and Stats)

         Computing (not the same as programming)/Software/Word Processing

o  Matlab/Maple/Mathematica

o  SPSS/Minitab     

o  Excel

o  MS Word

o  LaTex

         Programming or Coding (particularly if you are thinking applied or industrial math). Try to get as many of the following as possible

o  Procedural Programming such as Matlab or C or R

o  Object-Oriented Programming such as Java or C++

o  Functional Programming such as Maple or Mathematica

         Math 366 Foundations of Actuarial Science (for actuaries)

         Try to maintain a good GPA in Math and related courses

         Talk to us regarding specific recommendations on different areas


The more preparation you get here at Geneseo, the better off you will be in grad school. Getting the minimal number of courses in Math required for the degree is insufficient, UNLESS you have a minor in some related area, like CS, Econ, Bio, Physics, etc.  Broaden your interests, and take a broad spectrum of courses.  Go for breadth and depth, if you can.












Graduate Record Examinations


         Study for the GREs this summer

o  General – like SATs

o  Math Subject

         Sign up for both GREs, and take them. 

         Focus on Calc 3. 

         Its possible there will be some GRE review offered here in the fall for the Math Subject exam.  Pay attention to e-mails from the department!


Please do not send in Math Subject GRE scores until you know what they are.  Its worth paying extra!  Be prepared to have a low score. 



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Letters of Recommendation:


         Be prepared to ask for at least 3 letters of rec. (at least two in Math).  

o  Ask if the professor believes they can write you a good letter.


o  Transcript

o  Your statement of purpose (letter of intent, etc.)

o  Resume (include jobs, intramural activities, sports, leadership positions, charities, etc.) Brag about yourself (in a nice way)! 


         Give them at least a month or two to write the letters. 

         Provide them with stamped addressed envelopes if you want them mailed it, or detailed instructions for sending them through the internet. 

         Be prepared to waive your right to see the letter (its a fairly standard practice). 

         Gently remind them to sent the letters in two and one week(s) before they are due.  

         Thank them, and for goodness sakes, let them know what the outcome is when you find out, even if its negative!

Selecting Schools


         Pick at least one or two really good schools (pie-in-the-sky schools)


         4-5 medium-level schools (e.g. places where our students have had success getting in, and finishing)


         1-2 safety schools


         Consider web rankings in US News and World Report, and 

o  Talk to students who have gone through the process, as well as, faculty if you need help deciding


         Talk to me, or Professor Nicodemi, or whoever is your favorite professor.








         Be sure to apply for the PhD even if you are unsure or know that you just want a Masters degree.  You are not obligated to stay until you get one.


          Most grad schools in these areas have funding available for good grad students that include a stipend to live on and a waiver of tuition.  Be sure to ask for funding (anything they offer!). These things make the school think you are serious.  You can always turn it down if you dont want it. You dont want to pay to go to grad school if you can help it. 


         Apply to schools where our graduate students have been successful.  Here is a partial list of places where our students have been accepted (most with support):

            Claremont University












            Texas A&M (Statistics)

            University of Minnesota (Math/math-ed)

         Letter/Statement of Purpose/Intent:

o  All schools want a statement asking why you want to go to grad school in your chosen area.

o  You should tailor each letter to the school and department

o  If you know of faculty or a specific area of research you find interesting, mention it.

  Be honest about what you are interested in.  If you are undecided, say so.

o  Ask faculty to proof read it and suggest improvements

         Supporting Documents

o  You have to arrange for faculty to write letters of recommendation (typically 3, at least two in math).  It is your responsibility to ask faculty, give them all information on how/where/when to send letters. 

o  You have to arrange to have transcripts of grades sent to the correct schools and departments.

o  You have to arrange to have your GRE scores (the subject one only if they are good) to the correct place.




After you have been accepted


         Visit the School: always try to visit the school if you can (many schools have funds to do so), and talk to the other grad students in the program away from faculty. Ask about how cutthroat the place is and how accessible are the faculty.  You have to like the program, the people, the location, and the package offered (in that order!).  Ask how long it typically takes to finish and whether they guarantee funding for that time period. 

         Funding and Tuition Waiver: Most offer a teaching or research assistantship, and will waive tuition.  The assistantship is typically enough to live on and you will get out of grad school with little or no debt! Ask what you have to do for the teaching/research assistantship.  Ask when the qualifiers need to be taken.  Ask if there are any computing requirements.

         Acceptance Offer: make sure that you accept the offer prior to their deadline. 

          Rejection of Offer: If you are not attending, it is courteous to inform the school as soon as possible.  Schools can then make offers to those on waiting lists if they know your position is free. You will hurt the chances of other Geneseo students if you do not. 

o  A note about acceptances (from a contact at Iowa State):  All programs set deadlines because they have to make replacement offers. The deadline should ideally be a week ahead and never less than 4 days (high pressure sales is a red flag).  The advice to students is, when you get an offer, then you contact all programs that you prefer to the offer, tell them your deadline, and ask when you may expect to hear.  If they can legally make offers and want you, they will try to meet the deadline.


         Leaving:  later, should you find that you dont like the school you have chosen, you can always take the Masters degree and run, or apply to another school the following year.  You are not obliged to stay there any longer than one semester or one year at the most.  Remember, if you dont want to be there, they probably dont want you there, and likely can find someone better suited to take your place.










Sophomore year:


         Start thinking about REUs in your sophomore year. 

o  Make sure that you have the required background courses and skills necessary for your REU or undergrad experience of choice.

         Think about the Math courses skills you will need for Grad school



Junior year:


Fall and Winter


         Research REUs, Summers Abroad, Semesters Abroad, or other educational experiences.  At the end is a list of some opportunities.

         Find an Internship program (NSA, actuary, industry of some sort?)

         Most are due in Jan or Feb (though NSA wants them in Oct.)




         Begin looking at schools on the internet. 

         Begin thinking about GREs.  Think about taking them twice!

         Make sure you are taking the courses you need to be taking.  Ask your adviser or other faculty for help in deciding.  Many are degree- or program-specific.


Senior year:


Early fall

         Sign up for GREs and start reviewing for Math Subject GREs.  Take them for the first time to see what theyre like.

         Start talking to faculty about the schools you want to apply to.

         Get their advice.

         Start thinking about whom you want to ask for letters.



         Narrow your list down to 10 or less.

         Begin working on your letter/statement of intent.  Show it to faculty members!
Start applying.

         Ask faculty now about writing letters of recommendation.

         Take the GREs

         Applications for NCUWM are due.


Late fall

         Take math subject GRE.

         Finish your statement of purpose and show it to some of your Profs.

         Finish your applications.

         Gather together your materials and give them to your letter writers at least one month in advance of the due date.

o  Include resume, transcript, letter of intent, waiver, instructions with a list of schools and websites, addressed, stamped envelopes, etc., and anything else your letter-writer asks for. 



         Make sure all applications, transcripts, scores, etc. are in to the schools to which you are applying.  Later, contact the school(s) or the organization(s) that sends them, and verify they have all of your information.  Include unofficial copies of these things with your applications, as a precaution. 

         Gently remind your letter-writers to send in their letters.  Give them the deadlines and websites.  You should provide any envelopes.  They should be addressed and stamped. Dont make faculty look up the information!



         Wait.  Sometimes school will make offers earlier than this, but dont panic if they have not.

         When you are accepted, ask about VISITING the campus.  Often, there are institutional funds available for travel.  (Come talk to one of us before you do it so we can prep you on what to ask.)

         Ask about financial offers if they have not made them with the acceptance letter.

         Consider applying to grad prep programs:

o  SMI (Cornell)

o  EDGE (women only)


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o  IMMERSE if you are going to grad school-mostly analysis and algebra

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         Decide. Accept an offer.  Kindly reject the rest.


Other Helpful Information


Math Conferences

         Seaway Meeting – Upstate NY (October/April)

         Saint Lawrence Valley Mathematics Symposium – Potsdam area (Fall)

         Joint Math Meetings – varies (January)

         NCUWM – Lincoln, NE (January/February)

         GREAT Day- Geneseo (April)

         Hudson River Undergraduate Conference – Albany area (April)

         Applied Math Conference – Buffalo (April)

         Math Fest – varies (August)

         Look for local sectional meetings of the AMS or SIAM




Math Organizations


         MAA-Mathematics Association of America,

         AMS-American Mathematical Society,

         SIAM-Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics,

         AWM-Association for Women in Mathematics,

         YMN-Young Mathematicians Network,

         INFORMS-Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences,

         AMSTAT-American Statistics Association,








Summer Resources for those going into the summer of their Junior year


         Research Experiences for Undergraduates in Math-this includes both theoretical and applied mathematics


         The Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute



         Park City Math Institute has summer programs for math research and math education


         Center for Discrete Math and Theoretical Computer Science

       They have a US program and one in the Czech Republic this summer


         GWU Summer Program for Women in Mathematics


         VIGRE Vertical Integration of Research and Education


Summer Resources for those going into the summer of their Sophomore year

       The Carleton College Summer Mathematics Program for Women


Summer Resources for those going into a Graduate Program



         SMI (Cornell)




o  National Security Agency - has summer internships for undergrads, grads, and faculty in math and related areas-due in October



o  Mathematics Advanced Study Semesters (MASS) at Penn State




o -Choose a specialty.










o  We use Math video: