Ph.D. Requirements

Our doctoral program offers student tremendous flexibility to pursue their research interests. Our goal is for all students to finish in 5 years and get a good job.


How to finish in five years

  • Take your oral qualifying exam at the end of the Spring semester of your first year. This will allow you to devote your summer to  reading papers and thinking about research. (This exam will test you only on two subjects so it is possible to take it as early as January.)
  • Find an advisor early in your second year. This will allow you to choose your course work wisely and to have weekly meetings with your adviser in order to find a thesis topic and to prepare for your preliminary exam.
  • Take your preliminary exam before the end of the Fall semester of your third year. Even with this early completion of the exam you will have only about two years to complete enough of your thesis research to apply for jobs. If you wait until the end of the Spring semester and do no research before your exam, then staying for a sixth year is almost guaranteed.
  • Time management is essential.  Graduate students have a variety of responsibilities beyond research. Teaching a section of calculus, for example, can be time consuming but it is also something that you will have to do from time to time to support yourself. Good teaching skills (as reflected in student class evaluations and letters of evaluation) are important for landing an academic job.