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What looks attractive to math grad schools?

Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:27 pm UTC
by itwasanaprilmorning
I am going to be a freshman at a highly ranked liberal arts college. I've taken courses in linear algebra, differential equations through a high school dual credit thing, and real analysis at a local university. A bit of measure theory, and I'm a third of the way through Artin's Algebra.

I've been given the impression that undergraduate math research is rare/usually superficial, but from other (mostly natural sciences, I think?) people grad schools care about published papers above all else. If I do undergraduate research, how much does the topic matter? I have a pretty good chance at some quantum gravity stuff, which is cool but technically physics not math, or a compressed sensing thing, which is cool but applied, I think I'm more into pure mathematics.

Also, there is an exchange program in Budapest which is apparently pretty famous?

Honestly it's probably too early to be worried about graduate school, but that's what I do, so if any of you are mathematicians what would you suggest? What do you look for in potential PhD candidates?

Re: What looks attractive to math grad schools?

Posted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 1:50 am UTC
by Fishtribution
I'm just an undergraduate, but I was chatting with one of my professors about this recently. Aside from research experience and publications, he mentioned that having documented success in graduate-level math courses is a definite plus. At my school, math undergrads who want to go to grad school are encouraged to take four particular graduate-level classes: a two-course sequence in algebraic structures and a two-course sequence in analysis. (Though I'm aware that graduate-level courses may not be readily available at some liberal arts colleges.)

The Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program that you mention has a great reputation, I imagine it would look good on a grad school application. You might also consider trying to do well on the Putnam exam -- being named a Putnam Fellow is quite prestigious.