Graduate: PhD Program

Doctoral Dissertation

Each student must write a dissertation, which will be reviewed by the student’s dissertation committee.  The dissertation is the product of a thorough investigation of a basic and significant problem or question within the chosen area of study.  This dissertation will be defended in a public oral exam.

Writing the dissertation requires a broad understanding of mathematics to give the topic some context.  This context is carefully explained through careful written communication.  Depth of knowledge in one particular area is demonstrated by the focus of the dissertation and the new results therein.  The public oral presentation gives the student the opportunity to effectively communicate their knowledge orally.

Choosing a Dissertation Advisor and Committee

The student must find a dissertation advisor.  This typically occurs in the third semester of study.  The dissertation advisor must be a member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.  When the student and advisor have agreed to work together, with the approval of the DGS and Department Head, they form the dissertation committee.  At this time the dissertation advisor assumes the role of the student’s academic advisor, and the dissertation committee becomes the student’s advisory committee.

Dissertation Topic

The student works with their dissertation advisor to prepare a dissertation topic proposal.  The student must propose a dissertation topic in a public oral presentation and defend the topic to their dissertation committee. The student must also submit a written dissertation research outline to their dissertation committee. Each dissertation must include a significant computational component, so students must work with their advisor, committee members, or other experts to ensure this aspect is properly reflected in the research outline.  The topic proposal is typically completed during the third year of study.  Students often take Directed Doctoral Research (MAT 790) to review the current literature leading to a dissertation proposal. The approved dissertation topic must be filed in The Graduate School.

Admission to Candidacy

Upon successful completion of the doctoral preliminary exam and the dissertation topic proposal, including the written dissertation research outline, the student should re-submit their doctoral plan of study, if any changes have been made.  Once this is approved, the student may apply to The Graduate School for formal admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree.  This allows the student to work exclusively on the dissertation.

Dissertation and Oral Defense

Each dissertation is reviewed by the student’s dissertation committee. The common understanding among faculty is that the results contained in a dissertation should be original and of sufficient quality to deserve to be published in a mainstream mathematics or statistics journal.  The dissertation must conform to rules established by the UNCG Graduate Studies Committee.  Detailed information is available at the Graduate School’s webpage on Electronic Thesis or Dissertation (ETD).  Additionally, each student must present their completed dissertation research in a public oral presentation and defend the research to their dissertation committee.  The dissertation, presentation, and oral defense must be deemed satisfactory by each member of the student’s dissertation committee and The Graduate School. The dissertation defense can occur at most twice.

Students must apply to defend their dissertation by filling out the appropriate forms with The Graduate School two weeks prior to the scheduled defense.  The final date for defense of dissertations varies each semester, and is typically mid-March for the May graduation.  See the UNCG Academic Calendar for the precise date each year.  Allow at least two hours for the defense.  See the Administrative Support Associate for assistance in reserving a room.

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