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 3 April 2018.
Are there assistantships available starting Fall 2019?
What is the deadline to apply for Fall 2019?
Are there assistantships available starting Spring 2020?
Where do I submit my application?
What application materials will I need?
Is a Master's degree required before applying to the PhD program? Should I apply to the MS program or the PhD program?
What are the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Requirements?
What are the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirements?
Is there a minimum GPA for admission?
How important is it to have a strong math background? Are there any required prerequisite courses?
Are there fellowship or research assistantship opportunities?
Is summer support available?
I am an applicant from a nonU.S. institution. Can I be awarded a teaching assistantship?
Who will review my application?
What are expected teaching duties of teaching assistants?
What are the mathematical areas of strength of the department?
How many Mathematics PhD degrees does the department award each year?
What graduate exams are required in the program? Is there a foreign language requirement?
What is a normal course load?
How long is the PhD program? What is "normal progress" toward the PhD? What is "acceptable progress"?
What sorts of jobs do Syracuse PhD graduates get?
I'm an SU undergraduate student. Should I plan to stay for a Master's degree?
Are there assistantships available starting Fall 2019?
We anticipate awarding 810 teaching assistantships for AY 20192020. Stipends will be between $18,500 and $21,500 (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 is the deadline to apply for Fall 2019?
To receive full consideration, your application should be complete by Friday, January 25, 2019. We will still accept applications after that date, but your chances of admission will be less. We expect to start making offers of admission and support in midFebruary and to have our incoming class close to complete on April 15, 2019.
Are there assistantships available starting Spring 2020?
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. 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.
What application materials will I need?
Your application should contain:
 A completed application form
 GRE scores
 TOEFL scores for international applicants
 A brief (about 1 page) 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 PhD applicants are prioritized for admission and support.
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 2018 had GRE Verbal scores in the range 147159 and GRE Quantitative scores in the range 160165. About one fifth of the incoming 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. In recent years, most successful applicants have had a cumulative score of at least 100. If you hold a degree from a US institution, we can waive the TOEFL requirement.
Is there a minimum GPA for admission?
No.
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. (This is just an example; your degree need not be a BS.) 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?
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 recitations or one section including a recitation of a mathematics course per semester.
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 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 following list of recently offered topics courses may be of interest.
 Fall 2018
 The McKay Correspondence
 Spring 2018
 Markov Chains and Mixing Times; Coxeter Groups
 Fall 2017
 Intersection Theory
 Spring 2017
 Coxeter Groups
 Fall 2016
 Hopf Algebras, Actions and Invariants
 Spring 2016
 Topics in Graph Theory
 Fall 2015
 Quasiconformal Geometry; Topics in Homological Algebra
 Spring 2015
 Variational Energy Integrals; Categorical Data Analysis
 Fall 2013
 Complex Geometry; Sobolev Mappings and Variational Integrals in Geometric Function Theory
How many Mathematics PhD degrees does the department award each year?
The department has awarded 42 PhDs in the past 10 years and 80 in the past 20 years. This includes degrees in Mathematics Education.
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.
I'm an SU undergraduate student. Should I plan to stay for a Master's degree?
In general we don't recommend this. Since PhD applicants are prioritized for support, a TAship is not guaranteed. We also prioritize nonSU students for the PhD program. From the student's point of view, we think it is important to get broad exposure to mathematics, which often requires experiencing a different university and department.