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PhD Qualifying Exams

The requirements for the PhD program in Mathematics have changed for students who enter the program starting in Autumn 2023 and later. 

Requirements for the Qualifying Exams

Students who entered the program prior to Autumn 2023

To qualify for the Ph.D. in Mathematics, students must pass two examinations: one in algebra and one in real analysis. 

Students who entered the program in Autumn 2023 or later

To qualify for the Ph.D. in Mathematics, students must choose and pass examinations in two of the following four areas: 

  • algebra
  • real analysis
  • geometry and topology
  • applied mathematics

The exams each consist of two parts. Students are given three hours for each part.

Topics Covered on the Exams:

Check out some Past and Practice Qualifying Exams to assist your studying.

Timeline

Because some students have already taken graduate courses as undergraduates, incoming graduate students are allowed to take either or both of the exams in the autumn. If they pass either or both of the exams, they thereby fulfill the requirement in those subjects. However, they are in no way penalized for failing either of the exams.

Students who entered the program prior to Autumn 2023

Students must pass both qualifying exams by the autumn of their second year. Ordinarily first-year students take courses in algebra and real analysis throughout the year to prepare them for the exams. The exams are then taken at the beginning of Spring Quarter. A student who does not pass one or more of the exams at that time is given a second chance in Autumn. 

Students who started in Autumn 2023 and later

Students must choose and pass two out of the four qualifying exams by the autumn of their second year. Students take courses in algebra, real analysis, geometry and topology, and applied math in the autumn and winter quarters of their first year to prepare them for the exams. The exams are taken during the first week of Spring Quarter. A student who does not pass one or more of the exams at that time is given a second chance in Autumn. 

Exam Schedule

Unless otherwise noted, the exams will be held each year according to the following schedule:

Autumn Quarter: The exams are held during the week prior to the first week of the quarter.
Spring Quarter: The exams are held during the first week of the quarter.

The exams are held over two three-hour blocks. The morning block is 9:30am-12:30pm and the afternoon block is 2:00-5:00pm.

For the start date of the current or future years’ quarters please see the Academic Calendar

Upcoming Exam Dates

Spring 2024

The exams will be held on the following dates:

Monday, April 1st

Analysis Exam, Room 384H

Wednesday, April 3rd

Algebra Exam, Room 384I

Thursday, April 4th 

Geometry & Topology Exam, Room 384I

Friday, April 5th

Applied Math Exam, Room 384I