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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.



We anticipate awarding 10-12 teaching assistantships for AY 2017-2018.  In AY 2016-2017, 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.
To receive full consideration, your application should be complete by January 20, 2017.  We expect to start making offers in mid-February and to have our incoming class close to complete on April 15, 2017.
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 first-year graduate courses consist of a sequence of two courses, so students entering in the second semester would be at a disadvantage.

Applications should be submitted electronically to the Syracuse University Graduate School. 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.

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.

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.
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 149-159, GRE Quantitative scores in the range 154-165, and GRE Math Subject scores in the range 560-650 (about one third of the students took the Subject test).
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.

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 higher-level 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. 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.

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 University-wide fellowship opportunities for incoming graduate students.
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.
Applications are evaluated by the Department’s Graduate Committee in consultation with the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs.
The normal obligation for teaching assistants is 15 hours of service per week, which includes class time, preparation, grading, and office hours. A typical assignment is equivalent to teaching four recitation​s or one section including a recitation​ of a mathematics course per semester.
The department has active research groups in Algebra (Commutative and Non-commutative), Analysis (Complex and Real), Applied Mathematics, Combinatorics, Geometry and Topology, Probability, Statistics, and Math Education.  For more detailed information see the research page. 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.
The department has awarded 39 PhDs in the past 10 years and 73 in the past 20 years.
The PhD program has two levels of exams: the Preliminary Exam and the Qualifying Exam. The Prelim consists of two exams covering the two first-year course sequences, MAT 631-632 (Introduction to Algebra) and MAT 601-602 (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.
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, full-time students in the PhD program who are still completing coursework for the degree will take three 3-credit 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.

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

 

 

 

Of our PhD graduates dating back to 2010, roughly 40% took tenure-track academic positions in the US, 40% took positions in industry, and the remaining 20% took academic positions overseas.  See the list of our alumni.