Ph.D. Program

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Mathematics and Computational Science is conferred in recognition of marked ability and high attainment in advanced applied and computational mathematics, including the successful completion of a significant original research project. The program typically takes four to five years to complete, although this length may vary depending on the student. Below, we describe the requirements and expectations of the program. All graduate students require a 3.0 GPA to graduate (no exceptions).

Written Preliminary Exam

Upon entry into the Ph.D. program, students are required to take the Written Preliminary Exam, typically scheduled the week before classes start in the Fall semester. The coverage of the exam is in Linear Algebra, Advanced Calculus, Complex Variables, and Probability at the undergraduate level. Details of the exam can be found here: Preliminary Exam Details

The student must pass the exam to continue as a Ph.D. student. The Written Exam is offered in April and August. If the student fails on the first attempt, two more attempts are granted (three attempts total).

Course Requirements

The student must take the following six core courses:

  1. Analysis: AMCS 6081/6091 (MATH 6080/6090)
  2. Numerical Analysis: AMCS 6025/6035
  3. Probability and Stochastic Processes: AMCS 6481/6491 (MATH 6480/6490)

These six core courses are to be completed in the first and second years of graduate studies.

Ten elective courses (a total of 14 courses) are required for graduation. These elective courses should be chosen according to the interests and/or research program of the student and must contain significant mathematical content. Whether a given course can be counted toward AMCS elective course credit will be decided in consultation with the Graduate Chair. Recent courses approved for elective credit can be discussed with your advisor and the Graduate Group Chair.

Deviations from the above may be necessary or recommended depending on the individual student; such decisions are made with the approval of the graduate chair.

Choosing an Advisor

In the first two years of graduate studies, students must choose their thesis advisor. Some students already have an advisor to whom they have committed upon entry to the program. Other students will typically start working with their prospective advisors in the latter half of the first year or the summer between the first and second year.

Oral Exam

The purpose of the oral exam is to assess a student’s readiness to transition into full-time research and eventually write his or her dissertation. This exam will be taken by the end of the third year of graduate study.

First, an oral exam committee must be formed, consisting of three faculty members, two of whom must belong to the AMCS graduate faculty. The student must then produce a document of up to about 20 pages describing the research proposal and background material, which is then approved by the oral exam committee before the exam. In the exam, the student will give an oral presentation to the committee. A discussion with the committee follows this. In the oral exam, the committee may ask the student about the presentation as well as about necessary background material as seen fit by the committee. If the student fails this exam, the student will have one more attempt.

Dissertation and Defense

The dissertation must be a substantial original investigation in the field of applied mathematics and computational science, done under the supervision of a faculty advisor. A Ph.D. Thesis Committee consists of at least three faculty members, including the thesis advisor. When the dissertation is complete, it must be defended in a Dissertation Exam, at which the student will be expected to give a short public exposition of the results of the thesis and to satisfactorily answer questions about the thesis and related areas.

Teaching Assistant

Full-time students admitted to our Ph.D. program who are offered a financial support package for four years of study are required to be teaching assistants during the second year. Students for whom English is not their native language are required to pass a test the “Speak Test” (IELTS) demonstrating proficiency in English. More information can be found on the English Language Programs web page.