Degree Requirements

Requirements for the MA and PhD Degrees in the field of Mathematics

Admission to graduate study in mathematics is granted to a limited number of students who have indicated an ability for advanced and original work. Normally, students take one or two years after the BA degree to obtain an MA degree, and they take four or five years to obtain a PhD. An MA is not a prerequisite for the PhD. For general university requirements, please see Doctoral Degrees.

A number of graduate scholarships and fellowships are available, awarded on the basis of merit. As part of the graduate education in mathematics, students also engage in teaching or other instructional duties, generally for no more than six hours a week.

For courses carrying dual undergraduate and graduate numbers, (e.g., MATH 463/MATH 563), the 500-level version is intended to prepare students for advanced work in mathematics. In particular, written assignments should be prepared to high professional standards. Mathematics graduate students should enroll in the 500-level version.

MA Degree Program

The MA degree can be either a thesis or a non-thesis master's degree depending on the option the student pursues. For general university requirements for thesis master's degrees, please see Thesis Master’s Degrees. For general university requirements for non-thesis master's degrees, please see Non-Thesis Master’s Degrees.

Doctoral students may petition for these once they have satisfied all university and departmental requirements.

To earn an MA degree in the field of Mathematics, students must complete:

  • Complete with a grade of B or better a course of study approved by the department. (Students may transfer credits from another university only with the approval of both the department and the University Graduate Council.)
  • Perform satisfactorily on the general examinations in algebra, analysis, and topology or prepare and present an oral defense of an original thesis acceptable to the department

Summary

Degree Hours
Total Credit Hours Required for the MA Degree in the field of Mathematics 30

PhD Degree Program

Students pursuing the PhD degree in the field of Mathematics must:

  • Complete with a grade of B or better a course of study approved by the department (students may transfer credits from another university only with the approval of both the department and the University Graduate Council)
  • Perform satisfactorily on qualifying examinations (see below)
  • Write an original thesis acceptable to the department
  • Perform satisfactorily on a final oral examination on the thesis

Summary

Degree Hours
Total Credit Hours Required for the MA Degree in the field of Mathematics 90

Qualifying Examinations

The qualifying examinations in mathematics consist of the general examinations and the advanced oral examination.

To complete the general examinations, students must take exams, one each in algebra, analysis, and topology. Exams are offered every August, January, and May. First-year students may take any combination of exams at any time. After 2 semesters of study, students must attempt to pass all remaining exams at each offering. Students must perform satisfactorily on all 3 by the January exams at the beginning of their fourth semester. The judgment of satisfactory performance on the general examinations for either the MA or PhD degree is the responsibility of the department graduate committee. Students may take an exam several times.

To complete the advanced oral examination, students must select a special field (e.g., homotopy theory, several complex variables, or group theory) and submit it to the department graduate committee for approval. The committee schedules an advanced examination in the selected field, normally 6 to 12 months after the student completes the general examinations. While students failing the advanced examination may, with the approval of the committee, retake it on the same or possibly on a different topic, they generally are not allowed to take the advanced examination more than twice.

Tel (713) 348-4829

Mailing Address:
Rice University
Math Department -- MS 136
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77005-1892

Fax (713) 348-5231

Physical Address:
Rice University
Herman Brown Hall for Mathematical Sciences
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005