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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there assistantships available starting Fall 2021?

We anticipate having Teaching Assistantships available. Stipends for Fall 2020 are between $19,000 and $22,500 (the latter amount being for those who have passed the Qualifying Examinations), and each teaching assistantship includes a tuition scholarship for 24 credit hours per academic year.

Every applicant for graduate study is automatically considered for financial support (teaching assistantships, fellowships, and research assistantships). There is no additional application required.

What is the deadline to apply for Fall 2021?

To receive full consideration, your application should be complete by Friday, January 26, 2021.  We will still accept applications after that date, but your chances of admission will be less. We expect to start making offers of admission and support in mid-February and to have our incoming class close to complete on April 15, 2021.

Are there assistantships available starting Spring 2021?

We do not expect to have any assistantships available to begin in January.  All assistantships are awarded to students who start in the fall. Furthermore, most first-year graduate courses consist of a sequence of two courses, so students entering in the second semester would be at a disadvantage.

Where do I submit my application?

Applications should be submitted electronically to the Syracuse University Graduate School. Please do not send materials to the Department, as we cannot accept them. If you need to send additional materials, please mail to:

Graduate Admissions Processing
P.O. Box 35060
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY 13235-5060

What application materials will I need?

Your application should contain:

  • A completed application form
  • TOEFL scores for international applicants
  • A brief (about 1 page) statement indicating why you wish to pursue graduate study and why Syracuse is a good fit for you, particularly how your research interests align with areas of expertise in the department.
  • A curriculum vitae or resume
  • A transcript from each postsecondary institution attended sent by the institution to the SU Graduate School.
  • 3 letters of recommendation sent directly to the SU Graduate School.

TOEFL scores should be reported in your application on the Graduate School website as well as sent directly to SU by the ETS. The institution code for Syracuse University is 2823.

You will be notified by the Graduate School as soon as a decision concerning admission is made. If the Mathematics Department decides to award an assistantship, in most cases you will be notified by the Mathematics Department about the same time you are notified of your admission to the program.

Is a Master's degree required before applying to the PhD program? Should I apply to the MS program or the PhD program?

You do not need to have a Master’s degree to enter the PhD program; as part of the PhD program you will earn a MS degree along the way.  If you are unsure, we recommend you apply to the PhD program since PhD applicants are prioritized for admission and support.

What are the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirements?

There is no minimum requirement for TOEFL scores, but we admit new students and award financial support on a competitive basis. Command of English is an important criterion in the awarding of teaching assistantships. In recent years, most successful applicants have had a cumulative score of at least 100. If you hold a degree from a US institution, we can waive the TOEFL requirement.

Is there a minimum GPA for admission?

No.

How important is it to have a strong math background? Are there any required prerequisite courses?

The applicant’s background in mathematics is one of the most important factors when making admission decisions. We look for students who have taken several higher-level mathematics courses, ideally including two semesters of analysis and two semesters of algebra, and gotten good grades.

Our admission standards for PhD students are similar to the Syracuse University requirements for the undergraduate degree of BS in Math; you can find the latter in our undergraduate catalog. (This is just an example; your degree need not be a BS.) If your undergraduate degree is not in mathematics, you should make sure to address in your personal statement why your mathematics background is sufficient to succeed in our program.

Are there fellowship or research assistantship opportunities?

Research support may be available to advanced graduate students working in conjunction with faculty with grant support. Availability varies from year to year.  The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs of the Graduate School has complete information about University-wide fellowship opportunities for incoming graduate students.

Is summer support available?

Summer support (in the form of teaching assistantships and/or fellowships) is usually available for continuing graduate students who have completed at least one semester of graduate study in the Department. In recent summers, this support averaged over $3,700 per student. Availability is not guaranteed, as summer courses may be cancelled based on their enrollment.

I am an applicant from a non-U.S. institution. Can I be awarded a teaching assistantship?

Yes. Please see the question above regarding the TOEFL.

Who will review my application?

Applications are evaluated by the Department’s Graduate Committee in consultation with the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies.

What are expected teaching duties of teaching assistants?

The normal obligation for teaching assistants is 15 hours of service per week, which includes class time, preparation, grading, and office hours. A typical assignment is equivalent to teaching four recitation​s or one section including a recitation​ of a mathematics course per semester.

What are the mathematical areas of strength of the department?

The department has active research groups in Algebra (Commutative and Non-commutative), Analysis (Complex and Real), Applied Mathematics, Combinatorics, Geometry and Topology, Probability, Statistics, and Math Education.  For more detailed information see the research page. There you can see links to seminars held by each research group, as well as department colloquia. We encourage you to contact faculty members whose research interests you.

The following list of recently offered topics courses may be of interest.

  • Spring 2019 Topics in Analysis: Geometric Function Theory, Nonlinear PDE, and Calculus of Variations
  • Fall 2018 The McKay Correspondence
  • Spring 2018 Markov Chains and Mixing Times; Coxeter Groups
  • Fall 2017 Intersection Theory
  • Spring 2017 Coxeter Groups
  • Fall 2016 Hopf Algebras, Actions and Invariants
  • Spring 2016 Topics in Graph Theory
  • Fall 2015 Quasiconformal Geometry; Topics in Homological Algebra
  • Spring 2015 Variational Energy Integrals; Categorical Data Analysis
  • Fall 2013 Complex Geometry; Sobolev Mappings and Variational Integrals in Geometric Function Theory

How many Mathematics PhD degrees does the department award each year?

The department has awarded 38 PhDs in the past 10 years and 76 in the past 20 years. This includes degrees in Mathematics Education.

What graduate exams are required in the program? Is there a foreign language requirement?

The PhD program has two levels of exams: the Preliminary Exam and the Qualifying Exam. The Prelim covers the two of the three foundational course sequences, MAT 631-632 (Introduction to Algebra), MAT 601-602 (Fundamentals of Analysis), or MAT 651-652 (Probability and Statistics). It is administered as the final exam in each semester.

The Qualifying Exam consists of two exams over two advanced course sequences, chosen from a few options depending on your interests. It is offered every August and January. See the program details for the possible choices, as well as previous years’ exams.  

There is no foreign language requirement.

What is a normal course load?

The tuition waiver that accompanies every teaching assistantship covers 24 credit hours of course work per academic year, allotted as follows: 9 credit hours in each semester, and 6 credit hours over the summer.  In general, full-time students in the PhD program who are still completing coursework for the degree will take three 3-credit courses per semester.  To take more, you must fill out some paperwork to move credit hours between semesters.  Taking fewer than 9 credit hours in a semester is possible, but you should consult with your academic advisor first to make sure you will continue to make acceptable progress toward your degree.

How long is the PhD program? What is "acceptable progress" toward the PhD? What is "normal progress"?

The degree requires 72 credit hours of coursework, so we expect most students to be able to finish the program in six years.  Assistantship or Fellowship offers come with a guarantee of six years of support, subject to acceptable academic progress.

“Optimal”, “Normal” and “Acceptable” progress are defined in terms of the Preliminary  and Qualifying exams.  

"Optimal progress" consists of:

  • passing Preliminary exams as the final exams in first-year course sequences in December and May of your first year of graduate study; and
  • passing Qualifying exams in the August before your third year of study

"Minimal acceptable progress" consists of:

  • passing Preliminary exams by August before your second year of study;
  • passing at least one Qualifying exam by August before your fourth year of graduate study, and both Qualifying exams by January of your fourth year. 

There is a wide range of "normal progress" between these two extremes.

What sorts of jobs do Syracuse PhD graduates get?

Of our PhD graduates dating back to 2010, roughly 40% took tenure-track academic positions in the US, 40% took positions in industry, and the remaining 20% took academic positions overseas.  See the list of our alumni.

I'm an SU undergraduate student. Should I plan to stay for a Master's degree?

In general we don't recommend this. Since PhD applicants are prioritized for support, a TAship is not guaranteed. We also prioritize non-SU students for the PhD program. From the student's point of view, we think it is important to get broad exposure to mathematics, which often requires experiencing a different university and department.