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  students enrolled in the Math Ph.D. program to earn a Concurrent Master's Degree.  The requirement for a concurrent Masters degree in Mathematics is:

Any Duke PhD student may earn a concurrent Masters degree in any department with a Master's Program.  (Math does not have a Master's Program, and so are not able to award concurrent Master's degrees to non-Math PhD students.)  The first Master's degree is free, but fees apply to subsequent degrees.  If you are a Math PhD student interested in earning a Masters degree from another department: contact that department's DGS for the requirements; contact the Graduate School to confirm that you are eligible; and as always check-in with the Math DGSA.

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