Ph.D. Program

The range of possibilities for graduate study encompasses the areas of specialization of all of the faculty members in the field, who current number more than one hundred. The faculty members are drawn from fourteen departments in the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. There is opportunity for further diversification on the choice of minor subjects.

Graduate students are admitted to the Field of Applied Mathematics from a variety of educational backgrounds that have a strong mathematics component. Generally, only students who wish to become candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree are considered. About forty students are enrolled in the program, which usually requires four to five years to complete.


A normal course load for a beginning graduate student is three courses per term. Please see field requirements for details on courses. The Director of Graduate Studies in conjunction with the student's temporary committee chair will assist first-year students in determining the appropriate courses to meet individual needs.
The program allows great flexibility in the selection of courses. Most students design their own course sequences, subject to requirements, to meet their own interests. Courses are typically chosen from the math department and many applications departments. The course requirements in detail can be found under Requirements.

Minor Subjects and Special Committee

Incoming students are assigned a temporary committee chair. Students are expected to select a permanent full committee by the end of the third semester. Students submit a "Special Committee Change and Selection Form" to the Graduate School to indicate their selection. Students may change committee members at any time by submitting a new form to the Graduate School. However, if they are post A-exam or three months within Ph.D. exam (B-exam), they must petition.

The Special Committee consists of a Chair/thesis advisor and at least one member for each of two minor subjects. One of the minor subjects must be mathematics. The other minor field can be from any area chosen by the student that is relevant to their doctoral research.

A Exam

To be admitted formally to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, the student must pass the oral admission to candidacy examination or A exam. This must be completed before the beginning of the student's fourth year. The admission to candidacy examination is given to determine if the student is "ready to begin work on a thesis." The content and methods of examination are agreed on by the student and his/her committee before the examination. The student must be prepared to answer questions on the proposed area of research, and to pass the exam, he/she must demonstrate expertise beyond just mastery of basic mathematics covered in the standard first-year graduate courses.


To receive an advanced degree a student must fulfill the residence requirements of the Graduate School. One unit of residence is granted for successful completion of one semester of full-time study, as judged by the chair of the Special Committee. The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of six residence units. This is not a difficult requirement to satisfy since the program generally takes four to five years to complete. A student who has done graduate work at another institution may petition to transfer residence credit but may not receive more than two such credits.

Thesis/B Exam

The candidate must write a thesis that represents creative work and contains original results in that area. The research is carried on independently by the candidate under the supervision of the chairperson of the Special Committee. When the thesis is completed, the student presents his/her results at the thesis defense or B exam.

Graduate Handbook

For further details on the program, see the Graduate Handbook.