Time Period Overview

A PhD in Applied Mathematics typically takes 4-6 years depending on several factors. These factors include the level of preparation prior to beginning the program, graduate committee recommendations, motivation to end graduate study quickly and faculty availability, among other issues. Students must be enrolled for at least nine credits a semester to be considered full time. Each semester a student is enrolled full time and is making sufficient academic progress, they will receive a Residency Unit (RU). Students begin their program with primarily taking classes; end it with primarily research, with the years in between being a mix of the two. During the first two years a student typically takes three to four classes a semester.

Five years is the average time period for completion of PhD, with many students continuing into their sixth year. Below is a time table based on five years.

Year 1

Take classes both semesters.

Begin to consider who you would like to ask to be on your Graduate Committee.

Before you arrive in the fall, you will have been assigned a temporary advisor. Choose your first semester courses after meeting with your temporary advisor.

Ideally, you should select an advisor to replace your temporary one in the spring. Choose this faculty member with the idea that this person will likely be your Committee Chair for your Graduate Committee.

Year 2

Take classes both semesters.

By the end of your fall semester, you must have chosen your Committee Chair and your full committee (minimum of three members including your Chair). You will need to submit this request online in Student Center. Your advisor, the DGS, and GFA will receive an email to sign off on the request. Begin exploring research topics for the coming spring and/or summer.

During the spring semester your research should now be underway.

Year 3

Prepare for the Admissions to Candidacy (A) exam and consult with your Chair which classes you should be taking before becoming more involved in research. During the spring or summer (must be before semester 7 begins) you must take the A exam.

Year 4

Research and finish up any remaining classes.

Begin thinking about and pursuing employment opportunities.

Year 5


Actively pursue employment opportunities during the fall semester. Don’t wait until spring to start! Take the B exam (thesis defense).