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PhD Program Normal Progress

"Making normal progress" means moving through the PhD program smoothly, completing all requirements by their deadlines. More precisely, a graduate student in the Mathematics PhD program is considered to be making normal progress if the student:

  1. maintains a GPA of at least 3.0;
  2. demonstrates satisfactory course performance in at least two of Autumn, Winter and Spring Quarters of the first year and completes satisfactorily during the first year at least two sequences of courses chosen from the list of designated core courses;
  3. completes satisfactorily eight mathematical sciences courses (not counting seminars) at the 400-level or higher by the end of the first year, at least six of which must be at the 500-level or higher;
  4. passes two preliminary exams by the beginning of the second year;
  5. completes satisfactorily twelve mathematical sciences courses (not counting seminars) at the 500-level or higher by the end of the second year;
  6. has a thesis advisor by the end of Winter Quarter of the third year;
  7. passes a language or computer exam by the end of Summer Quarter preceding the fourth year; and
  8. passes the General Exam by the end of Winter Quarter of the fourth year.

So a rough time table is:

Date Requirement
End of first year Satisfactory course performance for two quarters
End of first year Satisfactorily complete two three-quarter core courses and eight courses in total
Beginning of second year Pass two preliminary exams (or pass one, plus one course pass)
End of second year Satisfactorily complete twelve courses at the 500-level or higher
End of winter quarter, third year Have thesis advisor
End of summer quarter before fourth year Pass one language or computer exam
End of winter quarter, fourth year Pass general exam

Additional Remarks:

  • A mathematics graduate student who transfers from the Master's program to the PhD program has their clock reset by one year, so "first year" for the purposes of normal progress is their second year since starting the Master's program.
  • A graduate student in the Mathematics PhD program is considered to have demonstrated satisfactory course performance in a quarter during the academic year if the student registers for and satisfactorily completes a set of courses satisfying the registration requirements for that quarter. Satisfactory performance in a graded course means obtaining a grade of at least 3.0. Courses with grades below 3.0 will not count towards the requirements for a Master's or PhD degree, unless permission is granted by the Graduate Program Coordinator.
  • A student may substitute a passing performance in a preliminary exam for satisfactory completion of the corresponding core course.
  • A student may substitute completion of a full three-quarter sequence of a designated core course, in which grades of 3.8 or above are received each quarter, for the passing of the corresponding preliminary exam. Only one such exam can be replaced in this manner. This is called a "course pass" of a preliminary exam.
  • Failure to maintain normal progress will result in dismissal from the program unless a waiver is granted by the Graduate Program Committee.
  • In September, the Graduate Program Committee determines the results of prelims. If a student has not passed two prelims by the start of the second year:
    • A second-year student who has only one written exam pass or one course pass (or a written exam pass and a course pass in the same area) will not be considered to be making normal progress. Evaluations for such students in September of year two will be made on a case-by-case basis.
    • A second-year student who has passed no prelims and obtained no course passes by September of year two typically will be asked to finish the Master's degree during year two with no expectation of further support after that. However, each case will be considered on its own merits.