MATHEMATICS GRADUATE
STUDENT HANDBOOK
UCSD Mathematics

PhD Students

Steps to completing your PhD….

  1. Qualifying exams. The first milestone in the Mathematics PhD program are the qualifying exams. Exams are offered in Fall (before the academic year begins) and in Spring. Every PhD student must pass at least one exam (with a PhD- or higher) before the start of their second year. Students must complete their exam requirements before the start of their 3rd Failure to meet these deadlines is cause for dismissal from the program.
  2. Finding an advisor. While completing the qualifying exams, students should be exploring areas of research (attending seminars, speaking with faculty, and reading with faculty). Once exams are done, students should be actively reading with a faculty member and making a decision on who their advisor will be. You can see faculty’s area of research here: https://www.math.ucsd.edu/research/all-research-areas/
  3. Advancing to candidacy. Students generally advance to candidacy during their third or fourth year (must be done before the end of 4th year). Before advancing to candidacy, a student must form a committee of five faculty members. At least 1 of the members (but up to two) must be outside of the department and 2 out of 5 of the members must have an academic specialty different than the student’s. The actual advancement is a talk in which the student prepares a presentation of their research topic.
    • Students should work with their advisor on forming a committee. Policies on thesis committees can be found here: http://grad.ucsd.edu/academics/progress-to-degree/committees.html#Appointment-of-the-Doctoral-Com
    • Once the committee is decided upon, the student must submit this form to the PhD staff advisor, at least 2 weeks before advancement
    • Student should reserve a room with the front desk staff either in person or by sending an email to frdesk@math.ucsd.edu – please include your name, date and time of your talk, and how big of a room you need
    • A few days before your examination, go to the PhD staff advisor and pick up the “Report of the Qualifying Examination and Advancement to Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy” form (which requires the signatures of all your committee members). Please note: original signatures are required on this form (no scanned or electronic signatures allowed)
  4. Final defense. Students should be prepared to defend their thesis before the end of their 5th You should discuss the details of your defense with your advisor, but it’s typically a 50-minute talk where you highlight the main results of your dissertation.
    • If a student needs to change their committee at all, the student must submit this form to the PhD staff advisor, at least 2 weeks before defense if your committee remains the same, you may skip this step
    • Students should schedule a preliminary appointment (not required, but highly recommended) and final appointment (mandatory) with Graduate Division: https://gradforms.ucsd.edu/calendar/index.php – allow at least a few days between your defense and your final appointment in order to finalize department paperwork.
    • Room reservations should be made at the Front Desk (in person or email to frdesk@math.ucsd.edu)
    • A few days before your defense, pick-up a “Final Report” form, from the PhD staff advisor (which requires the signatures of all your committee members). Please note: original signatures are required on this form (no scanned or electronic signatures allowed).