Each AIMS centre offers an intensive structured Master’s degree in mathematical sciences entailing 10 months of course work and research. The program provides a strong grounding in end-to-end skills, from problem formulation, estimation, prioritization, and generally applicable mathematical and computing methods in big data, computer security and financial mathematics, to clear and concise scientific report writing. The aim is to equip students with the necessary tools and confidence for policy analysis and decision making. All candidates go through a rigorous application process, and should have a 4-year degree in mathematics or science discipline with a significant mathematics component. All selected candidates benefit from full scholarships.
The course is taught by leading scientists and educators from across the world giving a diverse, international touch to the education. Tutors (often including AIMS alumni) who reside at the campus to support 24 hour support to the students also provide assistance to foreign language speakers, and extra support for visiting lecturers.
The curriculum runs over 3 semesters as described below, with an oral defense of the research project in mid-June, and a graduation at the end.
First Semester: Skills courses
Skills courses are compulsory and are designed to:
- Provide introductory and foundational material to the students.
- Train students in problem solving using a wide range of mathematical and computing methods.
- Provide a working knowledge of mathematics, physics and selected topics.
- They are structured to achieve pre-defined outcomes, with little flexibility in their content.
Second semester: Review courses
Review coursers are elective and are fundamentally different. Each is flexibly designed and together they provide a wide range of topics. Students are required to complete 11 courses selected from the 18 review courses offered (with at least two chosen from any three-week block). Choices offered are balanced as far as possible with respect to focus on mathematics, physics, computer science and interdisciplinary topics, such as bio-mathematics, financial mathematics, and more. Students can select from the list of courses in consultation with the Academic Director who ensures coherence.
The AIMS understanding is that each review course provides and overview and in depth study of some topic from a major field of modern scientific work in the mathematical science and its applications. These are often relevant to African development.
Third Semester: Research project
During the three-month long research project phase students work on a research topic with a supervisor. Students are not expected to do original work to achieve a passing grade, but the criterion for an outstanding research project is broadly that it could constitute the early part of a Research Master’s thesis. For example, it could be publishable in a journal, or form an outstanding introduction to the field that could be. used by other students entering the area. During this phase targeted communication skills and computing classes may continue, at the supervisor’s discretion. The purpose of the research project is:
- To give students the opportunity to work with an expert supervisor on a non-trivial project.
- To go through the process of independently reviewing, understanding and explaining scientific or mathematical material.
- To optionally do experiments – on a computer or otherwise – and report the results.
- To write a scientific report, and to defend it in an oral exam.
In order to broaden the scope of our one-year Master’s training in Mathematical Sciences, the students have been enrolled under two streams including the Climate Science Stream and the Co-operative stream. The overall goal of the AIMS education program is to assist Africa’s brilliant minds to hone their skills through their AIMS academic experience while increasing the critical pool of Mathematical Scientists contributing in different areas to Africa’s sustainable development.
The Climate Science Stream
In the face of a changing climate, and in line with AIMS’ growing response to climate change, AIMS Rwanda with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) have since 2018 graduated 52 students under the Climate Science stream. Currently, out of 44 students at AIMS Rwanda, 38 students are offering this stream.
This stream offers courses in Climate Science to equip students with the tools to tackle climate-change related issues through the use of Mathematical Sciences.