Official policy for passing preliminary examinations and coursework
The department offers two-semester course sequences in six core areas: Algebra, Analysis (real and complex), Applied Mathematics (functional analysis), Numerical Analysis, Probability, and Topology (algebraic and differential). Examinations (“prelim exams”) covering these areas are administered twice per academic year: in August before the start of the Fall semester, and in January before the start of the Spring semester.
Two 90-minute exams are administered for every area, each covering one semester’s worth of material from the corresponding prelim course sequence. (The course syllabi can be found here.) Whenever possible, exams covering different areas are administered on different days. The two exams covering a single area are administered sequentially on the same day, with a brief rest break in between. Exams are graded separately, so that a student’s proficiency on each semester’s worth of material is assessed independently.
Incoming students are expected to pass one exam before February of their first year. To remain in good academic standing, students are required to pass two exams before September of their second year, and three exams before September of their third year. Before passing into candidacy, a student must also earn a grade of B or better in four semesters of prelim coursework, disjoint from the three semesters on whose content she or he passed an exam. (See below for exceptions.) For a student to remain in good academic standing, all requirements for candidacy must be completed no later than the end of the student’s third year in the program.
There are three ways in which students may skip some or all of the four required prelim classes: (1) Students may choose to pass prelim exams in the corresponding areas. (2) Students with prior graduate coursework may appeal to the Graduate Adviser for waivers of one or more prelim course requirements. (3) Interdisciplinary students, with the advice of an academic supervisor and permission of the Mathematics ASGSC (Administrative Subcommittee of the Graduate Studies Committee) may be allowed to substitute courses in their specialty for some of the four required prelim courses.
January 2017 Exam Schedule