UCSD Mathematics

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 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 year. Failure to meet these deadlines is cause for dismissal from the program.


Exam requirements are different depending on which program a student is in. Please refer to the UCSD catalog for specific requirements:


The department currently offers written qualifying examinations in seven (7) subjects. These are grouped into three areas as follows:


  • AREA 1: Complex Analysis (Math 220A/B/C), Real Analysis (Math 240A/B/C)
  • AREA 2: Algebra (Math 200A/B/C), Applied Algebra (Math 202A/B/C), Topology (Math 290A/B/C)
  • AREA 3: Numerical Analysis (Math 270A/B/C), Statistics (Math 281A/B/C)


Exam grades are reported at one of four levels: Ph.D. Pass, Provisional Ph.D. Pass, M.A. Pass, and Fail.

During any examination period the student may take as many exams as he or she chooses. The qualifying exams are written and graded by the faculty who teach the courses. The scores are brought before the Qualifying Exam Appeals Committee (QEAC) and the grades are discussed. The final decision as to whether the student has failed or passed (and at what level) is made by QEAC. This decision is based upon exam performance, and performance in exam cognate coursework, though the QEAC is free to consider additional circumstances in rendering its decision. After the QEAC meeting, the PhD staff advisor will inform students when/how they can find out their results.

Students can request to see their exams after grading in order to find out what they did well/poorly on. Students who wish to see their exam for purpose of contesting the grading should be advised that there will be a very strong burden of proof needed to sustain a grade appeal on a graduate exam because of the nature of the exam writing and grading process. Such an appeal is most likely not going change the exam result.

Sample Qualifying Exams:

Algebra (Math 200A/B/C):
SP04, SP05, SP06, FA06, SP07, FA07, SP08, FA08, SP09, FA09, FA10, FA11, SP11, SP12, SP13SP15, SP16SP17, FA17, SP18, SP19, FA19, SP20, FA20, SP21

Applied Algebra (Math 202A/B/C):
SP04, FA04, SP05, SP06, SP08FA06, SP07, FA07, FA11, SP11, SP13SP15, SP17 , FA17, SP18, FA18, SP19, SP20, FA20SP21

Complex Analysis (Math 220A/B/C):
SP04, SP05, FA05, SP06, FA06, SP07, FA07, SP08, FA08, SP09, FA09, FA10, FA11, FA15SP11, SP12, SP13, FA13SP15, FA16, SP17, FA17, SP18SP19, FA19, SP20, FA20, SP21

Numerical Analysis (Math 270A/B/C):
SP99, SP00, FA00, SP01, FA01, SP02, FA02, SP03, FA03, SP04, FA04, SP05, FA06, SP06, FA07, SP07SP08, FA08, SP09, FA09, FA10, SP11, SP13, SP11, SP13, FA15, SP17, FA17, SP18, SP20, FA20, SP21

Real Analysis (Math 240A/B/C):
SP04, FA04, FA05, SP06, FA06, SP07, FA07, SP08, FA07, SP09, FA09, FA10, FA11, SP11, SP13SP15, FA16, SP16, SP17, FA17, SP18, FA18, SP20, FA20, SP21

Statistics (Math 281A/B):
SP99, FA99, SP00, FA00, SP01SP02, FA02, SP03, FA03, SP04, SP05, SP06, SP07, SP08, SP09, FA10, SP11, SP13, FA15, SP17, FA17, SP18, SP18 Formulas, SP19 Part A, SP19 Part BC, FA19 (Part A), FA19 (Part BC), SP20, FA20, SP21

Topology (Math 290A/B/C):
SP00, SP01, SP02, FA02, FA03, SP04, FA04, SP05, SP06, SP07, FA06FA07, SP08, FA08, FA09, SP10, FA10, SP11, SP13FA15, SP17, FA17, SP18, FA18, FA19, SP20, FA20, SP21