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6 Superb Universities around the World to Study Math

by Christine G

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While some may groan at the thought of ever taking another math class in their life, others are enthralled with the prospect of working out that impossible equation or proof.

For the latter half, focusing on mathematics as an undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate may sound like a dream come true.

There are many Universities to choose from around the world that offer fantastic math departments. At the same time, there are several that rise above the rest, hitting the top of several ranking assessments.

On abundance of the top math programs in the world fall in either the US or the UK. This may be due to the fact that as with science, most research papers must be written in English for publication purposes.

Here are the schools you should take a look at first when applying to study math, both in the US and overseas.

1) MIT

There are few schools in the entire world that can beat MIT when it comes to math education. Photo by Francisco Diez

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, better known as MIT and located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, may just be the best school for math in the entire world.

In 2010, US News ranked MIT’s math department number one in its list of best US graduate programs, beating out Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and UC Berkeley, who all tied for second place. They not only offer graduate studies in math, but also undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

For mathematics traditionalists, MIT offers areas of study including algebra, geometry, and analysis. For those looking to apply math skills to other areas, computational biology, theoretical computer science, and theoretical physics are also possible choices.

2) Cambridge University

Cambridge University’s campus makes you feel like you are a part of old world royalty. Photo by foshie.

Cambridge University, which has graduated the likes of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, is also one of the top universities to study math.

In 2008, The Complete University Guide ranked Cambridge the number one university in the UK when it comes to math, with students marking the department five out of five when it comes to research.

Want to check out the States while you’re an undergraduate student at Cambridge? Luckily, MIT and Cambridge have an easy exchange program, so you can enjoy a Cambridge education on both sides of the pond.

3) Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

Not only does the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology provide an outstanding math education, but it also offers a world-class setting in Zurich. Photo by ND Strupler

Want to bask in the after-life glow of a legendary mathematician? Then the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is where you want to hang your academic hat, since Einstein began his long and illustrious career here.

Along with consistently being ranked as the top University in Europe on the mainland, ETH Zurich, as it is also known, ranks number 10 on the QS World University Rankings in Math, the only non-US and non-British school in the top 10.

The school setting isn’t too bad either, with beautiful mountains and green grasses surrounding the campus in Zurich. There are also plenty of cultural and recreational offerings, along with a great nightlife scene when studies become too much.

4) University of California at Berkeley

UC Berkeley is known for student activism, including protests against tuition hikes and for the current Occupy movement. Photo by ben.cheyney

Looking for a university that is ranked top five in the world in mathematics, but will cost you thousands upon thousands less than all the other private schools on the list? Then UC-Berkeley should be your number one choice.

Besides providing 55 regular faculty members in the program, Berkeley has one of the best mathematics libraries in the nation. The school also offers a progressive, politically-charged atmosphere for those of you who are interested in social movements beyond the books.

Don’t forget, there are plenty of great restaurants and bars steps away from the campus, along with the city of San Francisco just a few miles away.

5) Harvard University

Harvard boasts a beautiful campus along with its challenging and rigorous math department. Photo by California Cthulhu (Will Hart)

Some may argue that MIT is not, in fact, the best math school in the world. Harvard University, located right down the road from MIT just outside of Boston, has given MIT’s math department a run for its money.

QS World University Rankings gives Harvard its coveted number one spot in mathematics, partly due to the strength of the employability of its students post-graduation.

Since its inception in 1636–which makes Harvard the oldest University in the United States–the college has provided a rigorous academic environment and maintained a worldwide reputation for quality research.

6) University of Toronto

Enjoy the beauty of Toronto while studying with a faculty made up of fellows from the Royal Society of Canada. Photo by bobistraveling

You might be saying to yourself, “I want to leave the United States to study, but can’t take the rain and cloudiness of Britain and I don’t speak German.” Where’s your next top choice for math in the world? Why, the University of Toronto, of course.

Falling just outside the top 15 in the QS World University Rankings in math, the University of Toronto houses the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences, which brings together leading mathematicians from around the world.

The math department faculty also boasts one-third of the mathematicians who are fellows of the Royal Society of Canada.

Are you a Math major? Where did you study? Let me know in the comments.

If you liked this, you might also like: 8 Ancient Labyrinths to Quiet Your Mind.

Main image: the dreaming spires of Cambridge. Photo by foshie.

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