Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions

Qualifying Exams
How do I sign up to take a qualifying exam?
Students should fill out an application and give it to the Director of Graduate Study no later than Reading Day of fall semester for spring exams and Reading Day of the spring semester for fall exams.
How should I prepare for a qualifying exam?
Each qualifying exam is linked to a particular course. In addition to enrolling in the course, students can find topic lists and old exams in the Department Library. Many resources for qualifying exam problems exist on the web. Consult the graduate director or the most recent instructor of the course in question for more details.
How are qualifying exams scored? Is there a high pass?
Qualifying exams are scored on a pass/fail basis. Each exam consists of exactly six problems. A passing score is awarded to a student who gets at least four of the six problems ''essentially correct'' in the determination of the exam committee. There is no grade of high pass, nor is there a masters-level pass or conditional pass.
Can I see my exam once it's been graded?
Students may consult with the chair of the exam committee (usually the most recent instructor of the course) after a failed attempt to better understand what is expected on the exam. Students may view their exams, but they remain in the student's file.
How many attempts do I have to pass the exams?
Students must pass all three exams within five total attempts.
Whom do I see if I have further questions about qualifying exams?
The director of graduate study is your primary resource for questions regarding qualifying exams.
Dissertations
When should I find a dissertation advisor?
After all three qualifying exams have been passed, students should begin to seek out a dissertation advisor from among the graduate faculty. It is not necessary to wait this long; in particular, it is advisable to seek an advisor as soon as possible after beginning study at UNCG.
What is the programming project and how do I satisfy this requirement?
Students should work with their dissertation advisor to find a suitable topic for a programming project that relates to their dissertation topic. More details are available at this page.
How many people should be on my dissertation committee?
The dissertation committee should consist of at least four members. The chair must hold an Endorsement to Chair Doctoral Committees, and no more than one may be an Adjunct Member of the graduate faculty. The committee chair must be from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
What is admission to candidacy?
When the student has passed all three qualifying exams and successfully defended their research proposal for their dissertation committee, they should apply to the Graduate School for admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree. At this time, students may begin to take their required 20 hours of dissertation MAT 799.
What happens if I don't pass my research proposal exam?
Students who do not pass their research proposal oral exam (preliminary examination) will be permitted at most one re-examination. A student who fails the re-examination will be dismissed from the program by the graduate school.
Is there a special format that my thesis/dissertation has to be in?
Yes. See this page for details.
Does every dissertation have to have a computational component?
Yes, every dissertation is required to have a ''significant'' computational component. Students should work with their dissertation committee to ensure this requirement is satisfied.
Miscellanea
Is there a limit to how many 500-level hours I can take?
Yes. At most 10 hours of 500-level courses may be counted towards the 60 required hours.
What happens if I get a B- or lower in a class?
Courses in which students earn a grade of B- or lower cannot be counted towards the degree. In addition, the graduate school requires that all students receiving assistantships must maintain a 3.0 GPA.
Are there assistantships available? Can I teach my own class?
Assistantships are available on a competitive basis. Graduate students may be asked to teach two courses per semester. Many factors determine who is selected to teach their own classes, including previous experience, progression towards the degree and current GPA.
Can I transfer hours from another program towards my PhD degree at UNCG?
Yes. These hours should be put on your plan of study and discussed with the Director of Graduate Study.
Do courses ever ''expire?''
Yes. All courses that count towards the degree must be taken within 7 years of the awarding of the PhD degree for students who enter the program with a masters degree. All courses must be taken within 10 years of the awarding of the PhD for students who enter the program directly from a baccalaureate program. The limit of 5 years applies to MA degrees.
Is there a language requirement for a PhD in Computational Mathematics?
The Graduate School's language requirement is satisfied by demonstrating programming proficiency in the programming project.