Graduate Program

PhD Program

The PhD in mathematics requires:

*Students can transfer up to 30 credits for a master's degree earned elsewhere.

Students must also satisfy a three-year teaching requirement, fulfilled by teaching assistantships.

PhD students should apply for a master’s degree when 30 credits are accumulated. The credits must include the following: MTH 436, 440, 467, 471, or their equivalent. The written prelims serve as the final exam for the MA.

Students will be awarded an MA in mathematics once prelims are passed and the master's program form is completed. (See Joan for the necessary forms)

Students may also be asked to participate in the graduate students seminars.


Graduate students who are teaching assistants must register for a minimum of 18 credits for the academic year (9 credits per semester).

Graduate students who are not teaching assistants must register for a minimum of 24 credits.

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Students must take all eight core courses in their first two years, or demonstrate proficiency. If possible, students should take advanced courses in their chosen area in the second year. Students are required to maintain a B average or better.

Core Courses

MTH436: Algebra I
MTH437: Algebra II
MTH440: General Topology
MTH453: Differentiable Manifolds
MTH443: Algebraic Topology I
MTH471: Real Analysis
MTH467: Theory of Analytic Functions
MTH472: Functional Analysis

Sample Schedule

The following schedule allows students to pass the prelims by August at the end of their first year, and start research quickly.

First year
MTH 436: Algebra I MTH 437: Algebra II
MTH 471: Real Analysis MTH 467: Complex Analysis
MTH 440: General Topology MTH 453: Differentiable Manifolds
Second year
MTH 443: Algebraic Topology MTH 472: Functional Analysis
Courses in your research area, start research when ready.
Third and Fourth years
Fifth year
Write your thesis, apply for jobs. A paper or two will greatly boost your job chances

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Students are expected to pass six written preliminary exams (prelims). Prelims are given during the year, as part of the final exams of the corresponding courses, and again in August. Students will receive a PhD pass, a master’s pass, or a fail.

Students are expected to pass exams at the following level by the date noted:

Preliminary Exams:

Each prelim has five problems, and grades are based on the number of questions which are substantially correct. A score of three or higher will earn a PhD pass, and a score of two will earn a master’s pass.

Past Prelims

Here are some past prelims in pdf form:

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Oral Preliminary Exam

The oral preliminary exam should be taken within six months of passing the written prelims. The exam is on a substantial paper, generally in the thesis area, selected in consultation with the thesis advisor. This exam must be passed at least six months before the thesis defense.

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Doctoral Thesis

The main requirement for the PhD is completion of a doctoral thesis, written under supervision of an adviser. Upon completion of the thesis, students must schedule a thesis defense.

Students will need to find a thesis adviser after they pass the prelims.

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