Information for Current Graduate Students

Requirements to Obtain the PhD in Pure Mathematics

  • Successful completion of the first year program consisting of nine courses.

  • Students should choose a thesis advisor by the end of their first year.

  • Make an oral topic presentation together with a brief written report (usually by the end of the Winter quarter of the second year).

  • The process of forming a Committee is initiated by the student, first, by meeting with your advisor to discuss potential Committee members. The Committee should consist of two people, at least one reader and at least one senior faculty member here must be at your defense.

  • Beginning in Year 5, the Fifth-year PSD PhD Student Progress Review form must be completed and returned to the SAA by November 15th. The form contains a written plan for the remainder of the student's graduate program. The signature of each member of the Committee on the report certifies their agreement with the written plan. 

  • Students must have two faculty members read their dissertation (one may be from another institution).  They must both write a report which will be emailed to the Student Affairs Administrator and distributed among the senior faculty members along with the introduction to your dissertation.  At least one reader and at least one senior faculty member here must be at your defense. The first (primary) reader generally writes a description of your work and recommends that it be accepted.  The second reader may simply concur with the first.  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that both readers’ reports are emailed to the Student Affairs Administrator by the deadline indicated above or considerably earlier if you do not plan to register the quarter of graduation. At the time the reader’s reports are submitted to the Student Affairs Administrator, the student should have arranged the thesis schedule (time/date/room number, title of thesis, thesis committee member’s names and if applicable, the Zoom link of the defense). Also, please email the SAA a separate PDF of your introduction for distribution and a separate PDF of the preliminary dissertation. In this process, a number of University and Department deadlines have to be obeyed.

  • Complete and present a dissertation under the guidance of a faculty member. This has three parts:
    • Complete a written dissertation containing original, substantial, and publishable mathematical results.
    • Present the contents of the dissertation in an open lecture.
    • Pass an oral examination based on the material of the dissertation and the field of mathematics in which it lies.
  • If a thesis is not submitted by the identified deadline, students are required to meet with the Director of Graduate Studies and may be put on academic probation.

  • The Department of Mathematics does not have any editorial requirements other than the Dissertation Office's requirements.

First-Year Courses

The first-year students take three quarters each of basic courses in analysis, algebra, and geometry and topology. See the main page describing these courses, and see below for some collected notes from some past first-year courses.

Finding an Advisor

Students start looking for an advisor in the winter quarter of their first year, and have usually found one by the end of the spring quarter. Students are expected to take the initiative in finding an advisor. For example, students can

  • email faculty members to express an interest
  • propose a reading course on a mutually agreed topic
  • talk to older graduate students about their experiences with various faculty

There is a Meet the Faculty Colloquium held weekly, usually in the spring quarter. Students can also get a good idea of faculty interests by going to research seminars.

Counseling Resources

Students are urged to approach the graduate chair (currently Marianna Csörnyei) if they have concerns about academic progress, health and emotional problems, or any other related issues.

Annual Report Form

Graduate students in their first year must fill out the department's Annual Report Form by the first week in June.

Graduate students in their second year and beyond must fill out the department's Annual Report Form by the third week in March.  The Student Affairs Administrator will email the form to students the first week of March.

Students are expected to maintain good academic standing throughout their graduate career. Program directors may impose restrictions or take other actions (including placing a student on Academic Probation) if a student fails to remain in good standing.

Teaching Responsibilities

On behalf of the Department, the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Undergraduate Committee oversee all graduate student teaching in mathematics. For any questions, here is their contact information.

Here is a general outline of the teaching responsibilities of graduate students:

  • No student teaches more than one course per quarter.
  • First-year students do not do any teaching under any circumstance.
  • All second-year students, including those on outside fellowships, serve as College Fellows (apprentice teachers) in an undergraduate mathematics course each quarter under the direction of a member of the faculty. Duties include class attendance, grading homework, holding office hours, conducting problem sessions, aiding in constructing and grading exams, and giving supervised lectures. This is considered professional training.
  • Upon approval of the mentor and the recommendation of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, third-year students are approved by the College to assume the position of Lecturer in the College; this means they will be responsible for teaching stand-alone courses.
  • Qualified graduate students may continue as Lecturers, with a stipend furnished by the College, until the end of the fifth year of graduate study.
  • Students whose native language is not English must improve their language skills in order to teach in English, in a manner commensurate with University standards.

Financial Resources

Students who matriculate and maintain satisfactory academic progress should expect five years of financial support, including full tuition scholarship, a generous living stipend, and summer support, the last contingent on current levels of NSF support. Funding comes from the University of Chicago, the National Science Foundation, and the National Need Fellowship Program of the Department of Education.

Student are encouraged further to apply for NSF graduate research fellowships and Department of Defense fellowships, which provide further forms of support (e.g., travel, equipment).

Student Resources

Students with questions may contact Laurie Wail, Student Affiars Administrator or Marianna Csornyei and Luis Silvestre Co-Chairs of the Graduate Committee, Bahareh Lampert (Dean of Students in the Physical Sciences Division), or Amanda Young (Associate Director, Graduate Student Affairs) in UChicagoGRAD.