The doctorate is conferred not merely upon completion of a stipulated course of study, but rather upon clear demonstration of scholarly attainment and capability of original research work in mathematics. A doctoral student may plan either a traditional program of studies in mathematics (mathematics track) or a program of studies oriented toward applied mathematics (applied mathematics track). In either case, each student must take 36 credit hours of approved courses with a grade average of B or better. For students entering with a master’s degree in a mathematical subject compatible with our program, as determined by the graduate committee, this requirement is reduced to 18 credit hours of approved courses.

In addition to the course work, all PhD students in both tracks must complete the following specific requirements:

Qualifying Exams

Each student will be required to take two written qualifying exams. The exams will be in analysis and algebra for the mathematics track, in numerical analysis and modeling for the applied mathematics track. Syllabi for the exams are available to students. Exams will be offered twice a year, usually in January and May. Students may attempt each exam up to two times.  Under normal circumstances, students are expected to have passed both exams by the end of their fifth semester.

Area Exam

Each student will be required to pass an oral examination showing knowledge of the background and literature in the chosen area of specialization. The exam will be administered by the student’s advising committee, chaired by the principal advisor. The exam should normally take place within one year after final passage of the qualifying examinations and at least one year before the defense takes place. A student may retake the required exam once.

A written syllabus, with a list of the papers for which the student will be responsible, should be prepared and agreed upon by the student and advising committee at least two months before the exam takes place, at which time a specific date and time for the exam should be decided. Both the syllabus and the scheduled date of the exam should then be reported to the graduate committee. Once the syllabus and exam date have been reported to the graduate committee, the student will advance to PhD candidacy.

Yearly Progress Reports

After passing the area exam, students will present yearly progress reports to their advising committees, usually in April. These reports will consist of both a written summary of progress and an oral presentation delivered to the advising committee.

Dissertation, Expository Talk, and Defense

Students are required to produce a written dissertation and present an oral defense. The dissertation is expected to constitute an original contribution to mathematical knowledge. It must be provided to the defense committee (the composition of which is discussed below) at least 10 days prior to the defense. Students are required to give a colloquium-level presentation of their thesis work, open to all students and faculty, followed by an oral defense of the thesis work to the defense committee. The committee consists of at least four faculty members, including the student’s principal advisor and at least one outside faculty member.

Deadlines for the thesis defense and approval of the dissertation are determined by the School of Graduate Studies. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of deadlines and make sure they are met.


PhD students entering with a bachelor’s degree are subject to the same breadth requirements as students pursuing the MS degree in Applied Mathematics.