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Admissions FAQs

What math courses should I take to prepare for admission to the UW Math Graduate Program?

The absolute minimum requirement is at least 5 full-year courses (30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours) in mathematics beyond precalculus, including study of one-variable and multivariable advanced calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra. In addition, in order to be realistically prepared for graduate school, you should have had at least a full year of rigorous advanced coursework both in real analysis and in abstract algebra. For more information, see Admission Requirements.

If I don't have an undergraduate degree in mathematics, can I be admitted to the UW Math Graduate Program?

The University of Washington requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited US institution or an equivalent degree from a foreign institution for admission to any graduate program.  Your degree does NOT have to be in mathematics.  People have successfully made the transition to a Math PhD from Computer Science, Physics, Statistics, Electrical Engineering, and other fields.  It does take a strong commitment. To have a realistic chance of admission to our program leading to a successful degree, you need to have completed coursework equivalent to an undergraduate math degree with good grades and at least one strong recommendation from an instructor in a rigorous advanced math course.   For more information, see Admission Requirements.

Is it OK to submit a recommendation from someone who is not a math instructor?

Yes, especially as a fourth letter of recommendation.  If for some reason you cannot get three recommendations from people who have been the instructors of mathematics courses you have taken, then go ahead and have someone else (such as a professor in another course or a job supervisor) send us a recommendation. The most useful recommendations are those from faculty who have been your instructors in advanced undergraduate or beginning graduate math courses and who know you rather well. It is also helpful to have a letter from an instructor in an REU program (Research Experience for Undergraduates) or someone else who can write about your mathematical studies or activities that go beyond ordinary coursework.

Does the UW Math Department admit students for terminal Master's degrees?

This year we will be admitting Masters Students only under specific circumstances while we revise our program.  See the Graduate Admissions Overview page for more information. 

What degrees are offered by the UW Math Department?

See the PhD and the Master's pages of the graduate program web site.

What mathematical fields can I study at the UW Math Department?

One of the strengths of the UW Math Department is that we offer graduate study in nearly every major subfield of pure abstract mathematics and many applied fields as well. See Faculty Research Interests for details.

How big is a typical entering class?

Class sizes fluctuate from year to year, but on the average we have approximately 15-20 new PhD students each year.

I've done graduate work at another university. Can I get transfer credits or be exempted from some courses or exams?

We welcome students who have already taken graduate courses or who already have Master's degrees. If your preparation is sufficiently strong, you can usually work out a program here that will get you to your degree in less time than is typical for entering students without any graduate experience. 

Do graduate students have to pass a prelim or qualifying exam before starting their research?

No, there is no written exam of that sort. The earlier Prelim Exam requirement has been abolished for incoming graduate students. After much input from current graduate students, we decided that traditional exam requirements are not so appropriate beyond the undergraduate level. A more important skill for future professional mathematicians is the ability to write a paper that delves deeply into a mathematical topic. The new Writing Milestone requirement is described here

Does the UW Math Department have an industrial mathematics graduate program?

No, but some of our faculty members and graduate students work closely with government and industry. Note that at the University of Washington we have very well respected Department of Applied Mathematics and of Statistics, in addition to the Math Department.  Check out their websites to discover which one fits you best.

Does the UW Math Department have a mathematics education graduate program?

No. Many members of the Math Department are involved in studying mathematics education issues and in outreach to the schools. Graduate students often participate in these programs and discussions. We do not offer a math education degree. The College of Education does offer such a degree.

What are the differences between the Math and Applied Math Departments?

Math and Applied Math are two separate departments with their own faculties, graduate programs, and admissions processes, housed in two different buildings.  Note that the Applied Math Department is not the only place in the university where applied mathematics is done. In fact, there are as many faculty members doing applied and interdisciplinary research in the Math Department as there are in the Applied Math Department. We have ongoing collaborations with faculty in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center.  The most important difference between the Math and Applied Math departments is that faculty members in the two departments are interested in somewhat different ranges of subjects. If you're interested in applicable mathematics, the best way to decide which department is right for you is to examine the Math Department's Research Overview and the Applied Math Department's Research Overview to decide which department's interests most closely match your own.

Does the UW Math Department accept visiting grad students?

Yes. Here is information for visiting graduate applicants.

Does the UW Math Department accept Graduate Non-Matriculated (GNM) students?

Only in very unusual circumstances. If you are interested in eventually entering the PhD program, registering as a regular (not graduate) non-matriculated (NM) student is almost certainly the right choice. If you are interested in applying for GNM status, contact the graduate program coordinator at Include a plan for what courses you hope to take and an explanation of why GNM status, rather than NM status, is appropriate in your case.

Does the UW Math Department accept students to begin in Winter or Spring quarter?

No. All of our entry-level graduate courses are full-year sequences beginning in the autumn quarter, so there would be no point in beginning in any other quarter. In addition, all students who are supported as teaching assistants must participate in the departmental TA training, which is held only in September.

Does the UW Math Department accept international applicants?

Yes, we welcome international applicants, and every year a significant number of international students are admitted to the program with full financial support. Please note that there are special English language test requirements for international applicants. See the page on International Applicants for more information.

Can international applicants be offered teaching assistantships?

Yes. This is common in our department.  See International Applicants for complete details on the TOEFL requirements.

I'm an American living abroad, or an immigrant living permanently in the US. Do I count as an international applicant?

An international applicant is anyone who is not a US citizen or a holder of a permanent resident or immigrant visa. However, if you are a native English speaker or have received a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in the US, you may not be subject to all the same test requirements as other international students.  See International Applicants.

I'd like to work with Professor X. Can I be admitted as that professor's student?

The UW Math Department does not assign students to thesis advisors when they are admitted. Instead, we assign preliminary advisors who can guide you through the initial immersion into graduate school. After student pass basic requirements, they begin doing reading courses with one or more faculty members as a next step toward getting to know them and their research areas. Once a student and faculty member have a good working relationship, that faculty member can become  the student's thesis advisor. The preliminary advisor should help students identify faculty in their area of interest who are best suited to advise them on research and mentor them in the process. 

What tests are required for admission?

See How to Apply for a clear explanation of the requirements.  It is different for domestic versus international students.

If I cannot take the GRE, will my application still be seriously considered?

If you are unable to take the GRE or if the cost or travel to take it would be a hardship for you, we will still seriously consider your application. In that case other components of the application materials, such as letters of recommendation and evidence of mathematical interests that go beyond course work, will be especially important.

When is the deadline for applying?

December 9, 2024.

When will I hear if I'm admitted and/or offered financial support?

We usually start making offers of admission and financial support in early February. By late February, you should have heard some response to your application: offer of admission, waiting list, or denied. If you haven't heard anything by March 1, send e-mail to to check on your status.

I was told I'm on the waiting list for admission and/or financial support. What are my chances and when will I hear more?

Don't give up hope. Every year in recent memory, we have made offers of admission and financial support to some applicants who were initially placed on the waiting list. The University of Washington, along with hundreds of other universities, adheres to an agreement not to require students to accept or decline an offer until April 15. Many students who received first round offers do not notify us of their decisions until April, often because they are waiting to hear from other universities. In order to estimate how many additional offers are needed to fill our entering class, we have to wait until after we hear from most of the students who were admitted in the first round. Thus, many of the offers to students on the waitlist are made in the last few days before the deadline. If at any time you have questions about your status, please feel free to send e-mail to or telephone (206) 543-6830.

I'm an international applicant. Must I take the TOEFL?

If you have a bachelor's degree from a US institution, no. If you are a native English speaker from the University's list of English-speaking countries, no. (Note that the University's list of English-speaking countries is quite limited and does not include, for example, India or Hong Kong). Otherwise, you probably need to take the TOEFL. See International Applicants for more details. 

I'm an international applicant. How should I fill out the Statement of Financial Ability?

All students requesting a visa must fill out the financial ability form as part of their visa request. If you are awarded financial support from the Math Department, your TA salary (or fellowship) plus tuition waiver should be enough to cover the financial resources required to get a visa. If you are not receiving financial support, you will have to provide documentation that you will have sufficient funds from personal or family resources or from a government agency or sponsor. Please visit the Graduate School's Financial Ability Requirement webpage to determine the funds required to attend the University of Washington.

What are the minimum GPA and test scores required for admission?

GPA: The UW Graduate School requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a scale of 0.0–4.0) for your last two full years of courses. This can be waived, but only if the rest of your record is exceptionally strong. The Mathematics Department prefers to see grades of 3.5 or higher, especially in advanced mathematics courses. 

GRE General Test: There is no absolute minimum, and the test is not required.

GRE Math Subject Test: The subject GRE is not required, but it is highly recommended.  

TOEFL: If you are required to take the TOEFL (see International Applicants), the minimum score is 92 on the TOEFL iBT, but we prefer to see scores of 100 or higher. The score on the TOEFLS component must be at least 26.

I can't afford the application fee. Can it be waived?

 See our How-To-Apply page for information on tuition waivers.   

What percentage of entering graduate students are financially supported by the Math Department?

Almost all PhD students in our program are supported by TAs, fellowships, or RAs. 

Are there fellowships or other forms of support for new students besides teaching assistantships?

We encourage all applicants to apply for fellowships. Fellowship applications are usually free, and extra funding can be very helpful on your journey to getting a PhD. There are a few UW specific fellowships for first-year students, given as recruitment awards. In addition, some of the students who complete the PhD program receive one or more quarters of support from research assistantships (RA) without teaching duties. The RA funds typically come from the thesis advisor’s grants, so they are subject to change.  

How much do teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and fellowships pay?

Entering students with bachelor’s degrees are paid at the rate listed under Teaching Assistant, Schedule #1; those with master’s or doctoral degrees are paid at the rate of Predoctoral Teaching Associate I (PDTA I), Schedule #1. In later years, most students get promoted to the level of PDTA I, and students who teach their own sections of courses are usually paid at the level of PDTA II or higher. We typically don't know the exact pay scale for the coming year until after the admissions process is completed, because the pay scale is determined in the spring of each year based on the Academic Student Employees union contract.  The graduate student TAs and RAs at UW are members of a union that has been successful in negotiating salary increases and benefits.   Appointments are for 9-months.   Many students also choose to TA over the summer quarter for additional pay.

How much is graduate tuition?

It depends on whether you are a Washington State resident or not. Here is the current tuition table, Mathematics graduate students are considered "Graduate Tier I". Financial support for graduate students normally includes a tuition waiver. 

Do teaching assistantships come with tuition waivers?

Yes. During any quarter when you are supported as a TA, RA, or on certain fellowships (such as NSF and Fulbright fellowships), you will not have to pay tuition, except for several hundred dollars per quarter in fees.

Are there fees that all grad students must pay?

Yes. Each student must pay several hundred dollars per quarter in fees, even if you are supported on a TA, fellowship, or RA position.  

Do graduate students receive medical insurance?

All supported grad students receive comprehensive medical, dental, and vision coverage at no cost. Self-supporting students are responsible for their own coverage.

Does it rain all the time in Seattle?

No. In fact, Seattle's average annual precipitation is about 25% less than that of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and many other major cities.   Seattle summers are dry, sunny, and mild. Typical winter days are mostly cloudy, with drizzle off and on, and with occasional sunbreaks.  We are located at the latitude of 47.655548, so we are farther north than any other major city in the US and almost all cities in Canada.  That makes the winters rather dark, hence our tendency to drink a lot of coffee!  It also makes the summer days very long, so we can take long walks and bike rides.  

How expensive is Seattle to live in?

In recent years, Seattle has become one of the more expensive US cities to live in, although the cost of living here is still far below that in New York and San Francisco. Even so, our graduate students have been able to find tolerably affordable housing within a reasonable commuting distance of campus.  Students, staff and faculty often come to campus by foot, bike, bus, or light-rail.  

I'd like to visit Seattle. Is there financial support or other assistance available?

We would be more than happy to have you visit. If you contact well in advance of your visit, we will attempt to help you arrange meetings with faculty members and graduate students when you're here, and give you information about transportation and lodging.  There is some travel support available for admitted PhD applicants living in the United States to visit the campus at the time they are admitted.   On-line discussions will be offered for admitted students as well.  

I was admitted for this year but I'd like to postpone my entrance into the program. Can I defer my admission to a later year?

You may request a deferral of your admission by one year provided you submit the request before the April 15 reply deadline; but approval is not automatic. An offer of financial support cannot be deferred; however, in most cases, a student who defers admission will be offered the same financial support as the first time around.  Please discuss any plans for deferral with the chair of the Graduate Admissions Committee. They will be in contact with you by email if you are admitted.  

I applied previously to the UW Math Department and I'd like to apply again. What materials do I need to resubmit?

You will need to submit a completely new application. 

What is the average time to degree for UW Math PhD students?

During the past fifteen years or so, it has ranged between 5 and 6 years.  

I have a question not answered here. Whom should I contact?

Send e-mail to or telephone (206) 543-6830 if you have any more questions.