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Purdue University: Department of Mathematics

Our Ph.D. program involves three phases. In the initial phase students work toward passing qualifying exams. We offer nine exams, and students must pass four, with some restrictions (see the Graduate Program website for more specific details). Each qualifying exam has an associated one-semester course, covering the syllabus of the exam. Students usually spend most of their first one to two years taking the appropriate courses and preparing for these exams. Since many students come needing to fill in some background in Real Analysis or Algebra, we offer one-semester bridge courses in these areas. The Department also offers summer exam preparatory classes for several (but not all) of the exams, and these are run by senior graduate students. Once a student passes their qualifying exams, they proceed to the second phase, the goal of which is to pass an Advanced Topics (AT) exam. In this phase, a student first chooses a thesis advisor, and in consultation with this advisor, prepares for the AT exam. The AT exam is usually an oral exam on two specific topics related to the student’s chosen field of research and is conducted by a committee of two or three faculty members. Once they pass the qualifying exams, students have three semesters to complete the AT exam. Following the AT exam, the students move to the final phase of the program, intensive research, and producing a dissertation. The dissertation must be defended orally before a committee of four faculty members. Students can have up to seven years of financial support from the Department to complete their degree. The average time to Ph.D. for all students is about 6.5 years.


Programs offered

The Department of Mathematics offers programs leading to the degrees of Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy. There are five doctoral degree programs – Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Computational Finance (CF), Computational Science and Engineering (CS&E), and Computational Life Sciences (CLS). The CF program is run collaboratively between the departments of Mathematics, Statistics, and Management. More information on the CF program. The CS&E program is an interdisciplinary degree program giving students the opportunity to study mathematics and computing in a multidisciplinary format, and 29 campus departments participate in this program. More information on the CS&E program. The CLS program is an interdisciplinary program in which students have the opportunity to study applications to biological sciences, and 16 campus departments participate in this program. More information on the CLS program. While the CF, CS&E, and CLS programs are interdisciplinary programs, our students in those programs receive their degrees from the Department of Mathematics. The Department offers MS degrees, and students in the Ph.D. program obtain their MS en route to their doctorate. The program does not generally admit students to the MS program and only funds students in the Ph.D. program, so students are encouraged to apply to the doctoral program. The Department supports and houses the Center for Computational and Applied Mathematics (CCAM), and much of the research of the applied mathematics program revolves around the activities of CCAM. The research interests of the Department’s faculty represent a diverse collection of specializations within mathematics. Several faculty have joint appointments in other campus departments which support their interdisciplinary research. A list of all faculty with their research interests.

Student body profile

As of fall 2014, the graduate program consists of 152 students, 87 (57%) are US students and 65 (43%) are international students. There are 37 (24%) female students, 16 of whom were US females, so the US student population is 18% female. There are 11 US minorities (1 female), which is 13% of the US student population, and 7% of the overall student population. Students come to our program from many different academic backgrounds, and the Department works to ensure each student starts their program in the most appropriate courses. The Department is committed to supplying a collegial and encouraging environment in which students, staff, and faculty work together to achieve the research goals and meet the teaching needs of the Department.

Funding opportunities

The Department of Mathematics is committed to funding all of our students, and we do not admit students to the Ph.D. program without an offer of funding. We don’t generally admit MS students because we cannot fund them. The majority of students are funded by Teaching Assistantships (TAs) but there are also Research Assistantships (RAs), and Fellowships. Teaching Assistantships are half-time appointments, and teaching duties tend to take up 10-20 hours per week on average. The Department supports a robust system of teacher training and teaching workshops, and our TAs have significant support to help them excel in their teaching. Research Assistantships are usually awarded to students through faculty members’ research grants, and their availability varies. There are several fellowships the Department is able to award or nominate students for. Beginning students can be awarded Andrews Fellowships, which support students with no teaching for two years and provide an additional two years of TA support at an elevated salary. Ross Fellowships are similar, with one year’s release from teaching and three years of elevated salary as a TA. Purdue Doctoral Fellowships (PDFs) are awarded by the College of Science with the approval of the Graduate School, and the Department can nominate students for consideration We have usually been successful in awarding at least one PDF per year. These fellowships give two years release from teaching. The Department can, through the CS&E program, nominate students for Lynn Fellowships, which provides one year of support with no teaching. Students are also encouraged to apply for fellowships through the National Science Foundation, the National Security Agency, the National Institutes of Health, the Ford Foundation, the Hertz Foundation, various national laboratories, and other institutions, and the Department supports such applications and occasionally contacts the graduate student population to call attention to such opportunities. Advanced students can apply for several on-campus and departmental fellowship opportunities which provide release from teaching duties for a year while students complete their research and dissertations. More information on fellowship opportunities. The Department tries to support all our graduate students during the summer sessions. To this end, the Department secures some campus-funded summer research grants (for summer 2014 approximately 32 were awarded). Other students are assigned TA, RA, or Fellowship duties, and for the last few years, we have successfully funded all students who wanted to be supported.

More information

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Contact for more information:

Plamen Stefanov