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How is the UVA math department? and best departments?

Ny0rkerNy0rker Registered User Posts: 1,632 Senior Member
edited January 2009 in University of Virginia
any math majors out there?

also, what majors/departments does UVA thrive in?
Post edited by Ny0rker on

Replies to: How is the UVA math department? and best departments?

  • hazelorbhazelorb Registered User Posts: 3,238 Senior Member
    UVA math has a rep for being a bad ugrad department. The problem is that it's very grad-school/proof oriented even in introductory major classes (300 level - 200 and below is Calc). Calc is also pretty rough because people place out of Calc 1 with AP credit but actually are not prepared for Calc 2 and/or think it will be easy, slack, and then do poorly.

    As a math major finishing the concentration this coming semester, I can pretty much give you an idea of what most of the classes are like... The thing is that their main goal is to teach you how to think through and write a good proof, and once you can do that, the classes become somewhat trivial. On the other hand, linear algebra (a course needed for people in math but also physics, econ, etc) is entirely proof oriented which is stupid for people in econ/etc who just need the application part. There is an apma (applied math) department in the engineering school which would be better oriented for that purpose except that it is eschool and is subject to the notorious grading schemes therein... I have a few engineer friends who would tell me horror stories about their apma probability class (they'd get a 30... But that would be the highest grade in the class so it would be an A).

    I would not base your decision of a school on what you want to major, because it could change. Especially with math, where upper level courses are nothing like lower level courses (problems versus proofs). I know a lot of potential math majors who definitely decided to do something else after they took their first proof oriented class. UVA is generally good in most areas, and your major is what you make of it anyways.

    edit: also, the math dept gets a bad rep bc so many of the instructors are not native english speakers (read: have accents), but this is true of many science-y departments across the country. same with TAs teaching lower level classes. just use ratemyprof to check before taking a class... a bad prof is setting you up for disaster in a math class.
  • shalala_lala_lashalala_lala_la Registered User Posts: 378 Member
    kind of related: how is the physics department?
    i didnt apply to uva's engineering school although i did so at other schools largely because i did not think it as prestigious as the school at large and also limiting..
    but i was thinking of doing physics..
  • galoisiengaloisien - Posts: 3,741 Senior Member
    I am taking math 300 (into to abstract math), a supposedly "new" transition course being offered for the first time in a decade. Apparently, the goal of the course is to help with some of logical abstraction / proofs / formal structures etc. issues students face in upper-division courses. It looks promising for being a friendly/introductory way to ease students into grad-school-style math. Of course I can't tell anything from the first class today, but from what the professor says, I suspect it might be a relatively easy class (compared to say, phys 252). The lecturer is eloquent and the atmosphere is pretty chill (or maybe because it's being held in the Comm school's hotel-like classrooms lolz) while it promisingly looks like an effective tool to cushion the transition. I may end up dropping it if I get off the waitlist for other courses (as it's not a prereq -- it'll just mean I'll freak out more when I get to the other math courses?), but it looks promising in addressing that problem.

    Personally, I think even if you're in Econ or Physics, it's good to learn the proofs behind the applications, simply because as time advances, there'll be a need for new, but derived/related applications. I mean, Econ and Physics are CLAS courses after all, and they are in essence theoretical fields, not applied ones (compared to say, finance or engineering). What if economists hadn't had the theoretical math background to extend parallel concepts in economics to evolutionary biology in the 1970s? Ecology and evolutionary biology are very math-oriented disciplines today, something perhaps that would have surprised Darwin.
  • DanityKANEDanityKANE Registered User Posts: 176 Junior Member
    hows UVA's journalism? communications? and architecture?
  • barronsbarrons Registered User Posts: 24,599 Senior Member
    Math dept review by UVa consultant

    The department had 32 TT faculty in 2001 which fell to 23 during the hiring freeze. An
    expected recruitment of a highly-recognized mathematician didn't materialize, leading to
    frustration in the department. They have hired 6 new faculty in the past two years giving
    them a faculty size of 26 at present. There are approximately 6 adjunct faculty for
    teaching applied courses, 40 graduate students and 5 post-docs, all of whom teach.
    All TT faculty, graduate students and post-docs are engaged in research. The Pratt
    endowment is very important to their research, funding visitors and graduate students.
    Department of Education grants support some US post-docs and NSF grants support
    some graduate students. The fixed-to-diminishing funds from the Pratt endowment are a
    source of concern to the department.
    Math considers its peer institutions to be Duke, North Carolina, Michigan, Texas
    (Austin), Illinois and Penn State. Its USNWR ranking is 38, while its peer institutions
    have rankings from number 7 to 29. One does not typically find such a low scoring Math
    department in high quality research universities. The department feels left-behind by the
    UVA administration because of the effects of the hiring freeze, during which time the
    number of students taking "service courses" in math doubled, and what they perceive as
    meager return from UVA for the major teaching role they perform.
    Mathematics would like more help from the administration to anticipate expected
    retirements with timely hires and to raise endowment for the Institute of Mathematical
    Sciences. At modest cost compared to the experimental sciences, Math could move up in
    national rankings.

This discussion has been closed.