THE MASTER OF ARTS AND MASTER OF SCIENCE DEGREES are normally completed within two years, during which time the student fulfills course requirements and passes a final examination. In some cases, these degrees can be completed in one calendar year (two semesters and a summer session). The M.A. and M.S. programs differ mainly in course requirements. The M.S. degree in mathematics requires specific courses in algebra, analysis, and topology. In contrast, the course requirements for the M.A. degree in mathematics are flexible and based on individual needs. The candidate for the Master's degree in mathematics has two options, one requiring an expository paper for a thesis, the other substituting additional coursework in place of a thesis.
The Doctor of Philosophy degree is normally completed within five years. Candidates for the Ph.D. must fulfill certain course requirements and examinations beyond the Master's level. The most important addition is the Ph.D. dissertation, which is based on original research performed under the supervision of a faculty member.
In all programs, students may take approved courses from other departments.
There is a teaching requirement for advanced degree programs in mathematics: all full-time graduate students receiving financial aid are required, as part of their graduate program, to gain teaching experience by assisting in the instruction of undergraduate courses. Normally the student simultaneously fulfills the teaching requirement and obtains financial aid by teaching or directing discussion sections for undergraduate courses. Teaching is evaluated, and a good record is an asset to graduates seeking academic employment. Some students obtain their financial support by serving as computer assistants (CA's) after receiving appropriate training (provided by the department).