Math Masters Thesis vs Non-Thesis

Hi Everyone!

Does anyone know the difference between the two? If your goal is to get a Ph.D. to work at a college level should you aim to do a thesis? My GPA is 2.86 (if you add everything from CC to now).

A student who pursues a PhD generally doesn’t do a thesis for his/her master in the same field.

The two colleges I’m applying to offer just a masters. That is why I asked.

What is your math GPA?

Given that your cGPA is low for a PhD program, I am guessing that you are doing a Masters to boost your admission prospects for a PhD? Do you already have a specific area of math that you would like to research for ~5 years, and if so, is it one that any faculty at the unis you are applying to specializes in?

If not, a Taught Master’s is your better bet: it will deepen your math training and help you identify the area of math that you want to specialize in. You may be thinking ‘I just want to be a college prof’ but a PhD is a research degree, and you will have to jump through that hoop first.

Fwiw, Math PhD programs can be particularly solitary- there is some of that in all PhDs, but Math seems to be more so than the other subjects that I know. You have to be highly motivated, and genuinely interested in doing math on your own, all day most days.

Also, if you goal is teaching at university level, be aware that getting full-time work teaching in universities these days is difficult. AMS currently has about 275 tenure track and 120 non-tenure track openings listed- for all of the US. Be ready to re-locate!


I agree with @collegemom3717. Your priority should be to focused on improving your academic record and demonstrating your readiness as a potential PhD candidate.

My math GPA is 3.32 but that is only if I count the courses I took at my home institution. I took three math classes (Differential equations (A-), Linear algebra (A-), and Introduction to analysis ( C ) during the summer online at different colleges. Yes, my goal is to get a master’s in math. I’m planning to apply to universities in Europe to get my Ph.D.