The oral qualifying exam is a two-hour examination covering two graduate-level topics selected from the seven graduate level topics listed below. It is given by a committee consisting of two members of the graduate faculty. The purpose of the exam is to determine whether a student has mastered the relevant beginning-level graduate coursework to a point where they can continue on to advanced-level coursework and research leading to their Ph.D. The oral qualifying exam must be passed before the beginning of the spring semester of the second year of study.
- Select two topics from the seven graduate level topics listed below.
- You then contact the Director of Graduate Studies to have them appoint an exam committee. If you have a preference, you may request faculty members.
- The DGS will let you know which faculty members have agreed to sit on the exam committee. You can then contact those faculty to work out the date and time for your exam, which usually takes place in a faculty office.
NOTE: When you talk to the professors who will give you the exam, make sure you understand what they expect you to know.
- When a date and time is confirmed for the exam, contact the DGS Assistant to give them that information AT LEAST ONE WEEK before the exam date.
NOTE: It is recommended that you email your examiners a day or two before the exam to confirm their attendance.
There are several possible outcomes of the oral qualifying exam:
- Passing both topics at the Ph.D. level. The qualifying exam requirements are then complete.
- Falling short of passing one or both topics at the Ph.D. level will be categorized into two levels:
- Passing at the master's level.
- Failing the exam entirely.
- The committee may decide to allow students who do not pass a topic at the Ph.D. level to retake the exam (in front of the full committee) once more.
- Students who ultimately do not pass the oral qualifying exams at Ph.D. level will not continue in the Ph.D. program.
- Decisions of the committee will be entered on the Math Dept Oral Qual Form.
Each tab below describes the syllabus topics and suggested reading for each. The amount of material covered on each topic corresponds roughly to the content of a one-semester introductory graduate level course. Many typical oral exam questions probe the student's ability to apply general theory to specific examples.