Degree Timeline and Resources

Ph.D. Timeline

The following time line is meant to provide general guidance - individual cases may vary.

  • Year 1: Complete the Qualifying Requirement.  
  • Year 2: Select the PhD Thesis advisor, and prepare for the Preliminary Exam.
  • Year 3: Take the Preliminary Exam by the Fall.  It would be ideal to take the exam the summer before the third year, leaving all of years three and four for thesis work.  (The exam MUST be taken by the end of the Spring of the third year.  Students are strongly encouraged not to wait and to take the exam as soon as practicable.)
  • Year 4: Thesis work.
  • Year 5 - Fall: write thesis and apply for jobs.
  • Year 5 - Spring: familiarize yourself with the deadlines and paper work required to graduate, defend thesis and interview for jobs.
  • All years:  Attend department colloquia, especially Frontiers Lectures.  As you advance through the program begin attending research seminars and interacting with speakers.
  • All years: Participate early and often in the Professional Development Program.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The Graduate School requires that you complete paper work for both the Preliminary Exam and the Thesis Defense at least ONE MONTH BEFORE the scheduled date.  Read the information above carefully, and let the DGSA ( know as soon as you are ready to schedule the exam and defense.

Concurrent Master's Degree

The Duke Graduate School allows Ph.D. students to earn a Concurrent Master's Degree en route to the Ph.D.  This may be a Master's in the Ph.D. department, or another discipline.  The requirement for a concurrent Masters degree in Mathematics is:

To learn about the requirement for a concurrent Masters degree from another department, contact that department's DGS. 

Resources for Math PhD Students

Course Recommendations Advice & Perspective
Professional Societies: AMS, AWM, SIAM Student Leadership
Summer Opportunities Funding Opportunities
Teacher Training Applying for Jobs