Information for Current Graduate Students

Requirements to Obtain the PhD in Pure Mathematics

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

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

  • 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.

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

At the end of the academic year, graduate students in their third year and beyond must fill out the department's annual report form, have it signed by their advisor or advisors, and return the completed and signed form to Laurie Wail.

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).