Graduate: Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Written component of Preliminary Examination: Area Exams

How do I sign up to take an Area exam?

Students should fill out an application and give it to the Director of Graduate Study no later than September 30th for January exam, February 15th for May exam and May 31st for August exam.

How should I prepare for an Area exam?

Each Area exam is linked to a year long particular course. In addition to enrolling in the course, students can find topic lists and old exams in the Department Library. Many resources for qualifying exam problems exist on the web. Consult the DGS or the most recent instructor of the course in question for more details.

How are Area exams scored?

Area exams are scored as PhD pass, MA pass or Fail. PhD students must score PhD pass in each area exam to pass the written Preliminary exam.

Can I see my exam once it’s been graded?

Students may consult with the chair of the exam committee (usually the most recent instructor of the course) after a failed attempt to better understand what is expected on the exam. Students may view their exams, but they remain in the student’s file.

How many attempts do I have to pass the exams?  When is the latest I can pass the exams?

There is no limit to the number of attempts. Students must pass both Area exams by January of their second year to continue receiving the funding. A student must pass both exams before the start of the fifth semester to continue in the program.

Whom do I see if I have further questions about Area exams?

The director of graduate study is your primary resource for questions regarding Area exams.

Oral component of Preliminary Examination

When should I take Oral Preliminary Exam?

The oral exam may take place at any time after the dissertation committee has been chosen and 75% of the coursework contained in the program of study has been completed, but at the latest on the day of the dissertation topic proposal.

What is the format of Oral Preliminary Exam?

The format of the oral exam is decided by the dissertation committee. Consult with your dissertation advisor.


When should I find a dissertation advisor?

It is advisable to seek an advisor as soon as possible after beginning study at UNCG. Students should begin to seek out a dissertation advisor from among the graduate faculty by attending seminars and talking to them. Some faculty may not want to accept a student until the student passes both Area exams.

How many people should be on my dissertation committee?

The dissertation committee should consist of at least four members. The chair must hold an Endorsement to Chair Doctoral Committees, and Adjunct Members of the graduate faculty cannot be in majority of the committee. The committee chair must be from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

What is admission to candidacy?

When the student has passed both Written and Oral components of Preliminary examination and successfully defended their research proposal for their dissertation committee, they should apply to the Graduate School for admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree. At this time, students may begin to take their required 18-21 hours of dissertation MAT 799.

What happens if I don’t pass my research proposal exam?

Students who do not pass their research proposal oral exam (preliminary examination) will be permitted at most one re-examination. A student who fails the re-examination will be dismissed from the program by the graduate school.

Does every dissertation have to have a computational component?

Yes, every dissertation is required to have a ”significant” computational component. Students should work with their dissertation committee to ensure this requirement is satisfied.

Is there a language requirement for a PhD in Computational Mathematics?

The Graduate School’s language requirement is satisfied by demonstrating programming proficiency in the programming project.


What happens if I get a B- or lower in a class?

Courses in which students earn a grade of B- or lower cannot be counted towards the degree. Any student who has completed at least nine credit hours of graduate coursework and whose cumulative GPA for all graduate courses drops below 3.0 will be placed on Academic Probation. Probationary status will be removed if, within the next nine credit hours, a student brings the cumulative GPA to at least 3.0 for all graduate coursework. If probationary status is not removed, the student will be dismissed from the program and is ineligible to continue in The Graduate School.

Is there a special format that my thesis/dissertation has to be in?

Yes. See this page for details.  TODO:  Update with link to resource pages.

Are there assistantships available?  Can I teach my own class?

Assistantships are available on a competitive basis.  Graduate students may be asked to teach two courses per semester.  Many factors determine who is selected to teach their own classes, including previous experience, progression towards the degree, GPA and the need of the department.

Can I transfer hours from another program towards my degree at UNCG?

Yes. These hours should be put on your plan of study and discussed with the Director of Graduate Study.

Can I switch my MA concentration after admission?

It is possible to switch to a different concentration after joining the program. DGS will check with the committee to see if you have the background necessary to switch to a different concentration.

Do courses ever “expire”?

Yes. All courses that count towards the degree must be taken within 7 years of the awarding of the PhD degree for students who enter the program with a masters degree. All courses must be taken within 10 years of the awarding of the PhD for students who enter the program directly from a baccalaureate program. The limit of 5 years applies to MA degrees.