Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some FAQs about the MS and PhD programs in Mathematics. If your question does not appear, contact Prof. Graham Leuschke, Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs, at gjleusch@syr.edu. Updated 13 August 2016.
Are there assistantships available starting Fall 2017? (+)
We anticipate awarding 1012 teaching assistantships for AY 20172018. In AY 20162017, the stipends were between $17,589 and $21,494 (the latter amount being for those who have passed the Qualifying Examinations), and each teaching assistantship includes a tuition scholarship for 24 credit hours per academic year.
What are the deadlines to apply for Fall 2017?(+)
To receive full consideration, your application should be complete by January 20, 2017. We expect to start making offers in midFebruary and to have our incoming class close to complete on April 15, 2017.
Are there assistantships available starting Spring 2018?(+)
We do not expect to have any assistantships available to begin in January. All assistantships are awarded to students who start in the fall. Furthermore, most firstyear graduate courses consist of a sequence of two courses, so students entering in the second semester would be at a disadvantage.
Where do I submit my application?(+)
Applications should be submitted electronically to the Syracuse University Graduate School at graduateadmissions.syr.edu. Please do not send materials to the Department, as we cannot accept them.
Every applicant for graduate study is automatically considered for financial support (teaching assistantships, fellowships, and research assistantships). There is no additional application required. First priority for these support goes to students entering the PhD program, with MS students considered next.
What application materials will I need?(+)
Your application should contain:
 A completed application form
 GRE scores
 TOEFL scores for international applicants
 A brief (about 500 words) statement indicating why you wish to pursue graduate study and why Syracuse is a good fit for you
 A curriculum vitae or resume
 A transcript from each postsecondary institution attended sent by the institution to the SU Graduate School.
 3 letters of recommendation sent directly to the SU Graduate School.
GRE and TOEFL scores should be reported in your application on the Graduate School website as well as sent directly to SU by the ETS. The institution code for Syracuse University is 2823.
You will be notified by the Graduate School as soon as a decision concerning admission is made. If the Mathematics Department decides to award an assistantship, in most cases you will be notified by the Mathematics Department about the same time you are notified of your admission to the program.
Is a Master’s degree required before applying to the PhD program? Should I apply to the MS program or the PhD program?(+)
You do not need to have a Master’s degree to enter the PhD program; as part of the PhD program you will earn a MS degree along the way. If you are unsure, we recommend you apply to the PhD program since there are some University fellowships available only to PhD applicants.
What are the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) requirements? (+)
You should arrange to take the GRE preferably no later than December for Fall admission. The general exams are required, and the subject test in Mathematics is strongly recommended. There is no minimum requirement for GRE scores, but we admit new students and award financial support on a competitive basis. The middle two quartiles of our entering class in 2015 had GRE Verbal scores in the range 149159, GRE Quantitative scores in the range 154165, and GRE Math Subject scores in the range 560650 (about one third of the students took the Subject test).
What are the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirements?(+)
There is no minimum requirement for TOEFL scores, but we admit new students and award financial support on a competitive basis. Command of English is an important criterion in the awarding of teaching assistantships.
Is there a minimum GPA for admission?(+)
How important is it to have a strong math background? Are there any required prerequisite courses? (+)
The applicant’s background in mathematics is one of the most important factors when making admission decisions. We look for students who have taken several higherlevel mathematics courses, ideally including two semesters of analysis and two semesters of algebra, and gotten good grades.
Our admission standards for PhD students are similar to the Syracuse University requirements for the undergraduate degree of BS in Math; you can find the latter in the undergraduate section of our website math.syr.edu. If your undergraduate degree is not in mathematics, you should make sure to address in your personal statement why your mathematics background is sufficient to succeed in our program.
Are there fellowship or research assistantship opportunities?(+)
Research support may be available to advanced graduate students working in conjunction with faculty with grant support. Availability varies from year to year. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs of the Graduate School has complete information about Universitywide fellowship opportunities for incoming graduate students.
Is summer support available?(+)
Summer support (in the form of teaching assistantships and/or fellowships) is usually available for continuing graduate students who have completed at least one semester of graduate study in the Department. In recent summers, this support averaged over $3,700 per student.
I am an applicant from a nonU.S. institution. Can I be awarded a teaching assistantship?(+)
Yes. Please see the question above regarding the TOEFL.
Who will review my application?(+)
Applications are evaluated by the Department’s Graduate Committee in consultation with the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs.
What are expected teaching duties of teaching assistants? (+)
What are the mathematical areas of strength of the department?(+)
The department has active research groups in Algebra (Commutative and Noncommutative), Analysis (Complex and Real), Applied Mathematics, Combinatorics, Geometry and Topology, Probability, Statistics, and Math Education. For more detailed information see math.syr.edu/research. There you can see links to seminars held by each research group, as well as department colloquia. We encourage you to contact faculty members whose research interests you.
How many Mathematics PhD degrees does the department award each year?(+)
The department has awarded 39 PhDs in the past 10 years and 73 in the past 20 years.
What graduate exams are required in the program? Is there a foreign language requirement?(+)
The PhD program has two levels of exams: the Preliminary Exam and the Qualifying Exam. The Prelim consists of two exams covering the two firstyear course sequences, MAT 631632 (Introduction to Algebra) and MAT 601602 (Fundamentals of Analysis). The Qualifying Exam also consists of two exams over two course sequences, chosen from a few options depending on your interests. See the program details for the possible choices, as well as previous years’ exams. There is no foreign language requirement.
What is a normal course load?(+)
The tuition waiver that accompanies every teaching assistantship covers 24 credit hours of course work per academic year, allotted as follows: 9 credit hours in each semester, and 6 credit hours over the summer. In general, fulltime students in the PhD program who are still completing coursework for the degree will take three 3credit courses per semester. To take more, you must fill out some paperwork to move credit hours between semesters. Taking fewer than 9 credit hours in a semester is possible, but you should consult with your academic advisor first to make sure you will continue to make acceptable progress toward your degree.
How long is the PhD program? What is “normal progress” toward the PhD ? What is “acceptable progress”?(+)
The degree requires 90 credit hours of coursework, so five years is a lower bound under normal circumstances. The median over the last several years has been 6.5 years. “Normal” and “Acceptable” progress are defined in terms of passing the Preliminary and Qualifying Exams. The Preliminary Exam is offered in August and May, while the Qualifying Exam is given in August and January.
Year 

Minimal Progress 
Normal Progress 
Optimal Progress 
1 
Aug 



Jan 




May 

Pass 1st Prelim 
Pass Prelims 

2 
Aug 
Pass Prelims 
Pass 2nd Prelim 

Jan 




May 




3 
Aug 

Pass Major Q 
Pass Quals 
Jan 




May 




4 
Aug 
Pass Major Q 
Pass Minor Q 

Jan 
Pass Minor Q 



May 



What sorts of jobs do Syracuse PhD graduates get?(+)
Of our PhD graduates dating back to 2010, roughly 40% took tenuretrack academic positions in the US, 40% took positions in industry, and the remaining 20% took academic positions overseas. See the list of our alumni at math.syr.edu/graduate/graduatealumni.html.