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4 Signs a PhD in Mathematics is Right for You

Are you a lover of numbers who is considering a PhD in Mathematics? Studying Mathematics at the doctoral level is challenging, but with the right set of qualities, extremely worthwhile!

We’ve put together four signs that a PhD in Mathematics is the right choice for you.

#1 You have an eye for patterns

Mathematics is fundamentally the study of patterns. The earliest mathematicians detected patterns and sequences in a seemingly chaotic natural world and used them to begin formulating the ‘mathematical language’ that we use to describe our universe today.

At undergraduate and Masters level, you will have developed a deep understanding of the mathematical models and theories developed by others. But as a doctoral student, you’ll be expected to make an original contribution to your field – and this might just mean spotting a pattern that no one has identified before. Are you ready for the challenge?

#2 You can wrap your mind around abstract concepts

Evidence of mathematical truths is all around us, underpinning everything from the technology that powers our cars and TVs to the fractal patterns found in natural phenomena like snowflakes, seashells and flowers. But studying Mathematics also requires you to work with principles and theories that are abstract and intangible.

In fact, the more complex mathematical concepts become, the more counterintuitive they tend to be. If a mind-bending paradox fills you with excitement (rather than gives you a headache), you could be on your way to a successful career as a PhD student in Mathematics.

#3 You’re interested in the real-world applications of Mathematics

A PhD in Mathematics isn’t (necessarily) just about spending hours hauled up with a blackboard and calculator, pouring over abstract theories. If the theoretical aspects of Mathematics are most appealing to you, there are plenty of fascinating projects available in Pure Mathematics. However, the majority take a multi-disciplinary approach, and focus on using Mathematics to address real-world challenges.

Could you develop a mathematical model that will help forecast the impact of climate change on sea level change? Or a methodology for the analysis of medical data? If you’re enthusiastic about applying your mathematical knowledge across disciplines to drive positive change, a PhD in Mathematics could be for you.

#4 You have patience

It’s no secret that studying Mathematics can be frustrating. Have you ever spent hours on a problem only to come out with a completely wrong answer – all because of a tiny error you made several steps ago? Whatever level you’ve studied Mathematics to, the chances are that you’ve had this experience many times. If you’re interested in studying a PhD in Mathematics, you can expect this to continue.

Doctoral study in Mathematics can often mean facing failure many times before you finally crack the code – but if you’ve got the patience to see it through, the payoff is well worth it!

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Last Updated: 24 January 2023