Graduate Program HeadPierre-Emmanuel Jabin
Program CodeMATH

University Park (Ph.D., M.A.)

Degrees Conferred

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Dual-Title Ph.D. and M.A. in Mathematics and Operations Research

The Graduate Faculty


Graduate courses in all the principal branches of mathematics are offered regularly each year. The department is prepared to direct research in a variety of fields, including various branches of analysis, algebra, topology, number theory, applied analysis, and mathematical logic and foundations.

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations Aptitude Test (GRE), or from a comparable substitute examination accepted by the Mathematics graduate program, are not required for admission. Those scores can still be included if the applicant has them and they will then be considered by the admission committee.

To be admitted to the Ph.D. program without undergraduate deficiency, an applicant should have completed at least 18 credits in mathematics at the advanced undergraduate level (400 series or their equivalents). The undergraduate student is urged to take at least 6 credits in foundations of analysis (MATH 401), 6 in modern algebra (MATH 435 and MATH 436), and 3 in topology (MATH 429) or their equivalents. These courses are essential preparation for the graduate program, and if they are taken after admission, a maximum of 6 credits may be counted toward an advanced degree. Students are typically admitted directly to the Ph.D. program, though may on occasion be admitted first to the M.A. degree when not meeting all of the above requirements.

Students with a 3.00 junior/senior average and with appropriate course backgrounds will be considered for admission. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces that are available for new students.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. See GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

For the M.A. degree the department offers two options:

  1. the thesis option requires 12 credits of approved 500-series or 600-series courses in mathematics, 6 to 9 credits of thesis, sufficient credits in approved 400- or 500-series courses to make a total of 30 credits, and a final oral examination based on the thesis and general course material; and
  2. the nonthesis option requires 18 credits of 500-series courses in mathematics, sufficient credits in approved 400- or 500-series courses to make a total of 30 credits, and a term paper on an approved topic in mathematics. No final examination is given in this option. Under this option a student may also elect to take a minor in applied mathematics (9 credits with at least 6 at the 500 level) and may use these credits toward the necessary 30 credits. For both options, a grade of A or B is required in all courses.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

All doctoral students are required to take three qualifying examinations. Two of these examinations must be completed prior to the beginning of the student's second year of graduate study, and the third prior to the beginning of the third year. The qualifying examinations are in the areas of analysis, algebra, and topology/geometry.

The qualifying examinations are given twice a year--after the end of the spring semester and before the beginning of the fall semester. Basic, one-year sequences are offered in each subject annually to help students prepare for the examinations. Typically, an entering Ph.D. student takes two of the basic sequences in the first year and the third basic sequence in the second year of study, and takes the qualifying examinations in the spring after completing the corresponding courses. If an examination is failed, the student must take it again. Students who fail a qualifying examination in a given subject twice may not continue in the Ph.D. program.

Entering Ph.D. students may take one or more of the qualifying examinations on arrival in August without penalty. If they fail a pre-entrance exam, they still have two more opportunities to pass it. Entering Ph.D. students are advised to take at least two basic sequences (in the subjects they did not pass qualifying exams in on arrival) and the subsequent qualifying exams in the first year of graduate study.

After passing all three qualifying exams, students are expected to select a dissertation adviser and form a Ph.D. committee. The committee administers the comprehensive exam (no later than the end of the seventh semester of study) and offers counsel of the student as his or her research progresses.


Dual-Title M.A. and Ph.D. in Mathematics and Operations Research

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in Mathematics and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Operations Research dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Operations Research Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Operations Research prior to taking the qualifying examination in their primary graduate program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the degree they are enrolled in Mathematics. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in Operations Research, listed on the Operations Research Bulletin page.

The qualifying examination committee for the dual-title Ph.D. degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from Mathematics and must include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the Operations Research program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both Mathematics and Operations Research. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a Mathematics and Operations Research dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least one member of the Operations Research Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the Ph.D. committee is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Operations Research, the member of the committee representing Operations Research must be appointed as co-chair. The Operations Research representative on the student’s Ph.D. committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination.

Students in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their Ph.D. committee and reflects their original research and education in Mathematics and Operations Research. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.


A graduate minor is available in any approved graduate major or dual-title program. The default requirements for a graduate minor are stated in Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies and GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies, depending on the type of degree the student is pursuing:

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Mathematics (MATH) Course List


Campus University Park
Graduate Program Head Pierre-Emmanuel Jabin
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Pierre-Emmanuel Jabin
Program Contact

Katie Miller
107A McAllister Building
University Park PA 16802
(814) 865-7527

Program Website View