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Assessment


 The graduate program in Mathematics and Statistics assesses its Learning Objectives using the following methods:

Applicants to all graduate programs must have successfully completed prior coursework in mathematics and statistics to properly prepare them for their intended specializations, and are additionally required to pass the GRE with a score on the quantitative portion that places them in at least the 70th percentile. Incoming students take a seminar during their first semester to introduce them to active research areas in the department, allowing students to align with a faculty mentor.


This assesses the Foundational Skills learning outcome. The required graduate coursework depends on the emphasis area and research topic. Coursework is typically completed in the first two years, and is selected and coordinated to provide a sound foundation in the fundamentals of theory and practice. Small class sizes (typically between about 5 and 20) and extensive homework and testing in graduate classes give the instructor detailed information on the student's assimilation and mastery of the material.   


These assess the Foundational Skills, Research Skills, and Communication and Professional Preparation learning outcomes.

  1. Each Master’s students across all specializations must pass an exam or course series specific to their degree. MS Students in Mathematics are required to pass a comprehensive exam in advanced calculus during their second semester. MS students in the Industrial Math program can either take the Advanced Calculus exam or a comprehensive exam for a required course in applied mathematics. MS students in Statistics must pass the foundational probability and mathematical statistics course series with at least a B grade. All MS students must also pass an oral examination – conducted by their mentor and committee – following the completion of their Plan B project or Plan A thesis. The Plan B project for students in Industrial Math is based on work done during an internship, either with a company or possibly with another department on campus. The project includes a technical write-up suitable to the industry/field, with a presentation and subsequent oral examination by faculty and students in the program. MMath students must successfully completeeither the Advanced Calculus or the Mathematics Teaching exam by the end of their first year of matriculation.
  2. All PhD candidates must successfully pass three exams: (1) A comprehensive exam, designed by the faculty mentor in consultation with the student and committee to effectively prepare the student for their research project. This exam may use a combination of written and oral components, and typically requires between 4-12 hours for completion. (2) The proposal defense, which requires a written document or report that describes the student’s thesis topic and intended research approach. The exam culminates with an oral presentation and examination by the student’s committee. (3) The dissertation defense, which involves a presentation an examination by the mentor and committee, following the completion of the dissertation.

This assesses all learning outcomes. Through continuous interactions over the course of their program, the major professor is the primary mentor who assesses the progress of the student in his/her development of foundational knowledge, understanding and execution of original research, ability to contribute to the writing of manuscripts describing their findings, and, eventually, compilation of research findings in the thesis or dissertation. The major professor provides expertise in the specialization chosen by the student, and has the leadership role in determining whether the learning outcomes have been met in the context of the research specialization chosen.

This assesses Research Skills  and Communication and Professional Preparation learning outcomes. Every graduate student has a supervisory committee, consisting of the student's major professor along with additional experts from the faculty: two for MS, and four for PhD. This committee advises on the suitability of the courses chosen for the student’s Program of Study; determines the feasibility and strengths of the thesis/dissertation topic; and advises in the development and evaluation of the thesis/dissertation. Graduate students meet with their supervisory committee to report on progress in course work, research, and other areas pertinent to their degree program. This provides a venue for the committee to provide feedback about the student’s progress on their research project, to clarify expectations for the successful completion of the degree, and for constructive criticism to be given when necessary. Specific benchmarks expected by the committee are provided in Graduate Handbook. In addition, this committee administers the oral examination part of the PhD candidacy examination, and evaluates the thesis/dissertation defense.


This assesses the Communication and Professional Preparation learning outcome. Graduate students (MS and PhD) generally present their research in regular departmental seminars and professional meetings. Intra- and Inter-departmental seminar series for this purpose are held by various research groups, including Discrete Mathematics; Mathematics Education; Mathematical Biology; Differential Geometry, Computational Algebra, and Mathematical Physics; and Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Students are able to respond to questions and receive feedback from the faculty and peers.