Mathematics Ph.D. students may choose one of the options below as the set of
which they are to be examined:
Students may mix these options or request a substitution of one other graduate mathematics course for one of the above courses.
The philosophy of these options is that the Department wants its students to be knowledgeable in the basic mathematical
subjects in the student's area of study. Therefore, substitution of a course will only be permitted if that
course is critical to the student's plan of study. The substitution must be approved by the Graduate Program
Committee and the student's advisor.
Timeframe and Progress Requirements
Students will be expected to take the exams according to the following schedule:
The Philosophy behind Prelims
- By the beginning of the 3rd semester students are expected to pass at least 2 prelim exams; by the beginning of the 5th semester students are expected to pass at least 4 prelim exams.
Under special circumstances (e.g. students entering in the Spring) the Graduate Program Committee may allow the student extra time to fulfill these requirements.
The written portion of the preliminary exams will be administered every year, shortly before each semester (i.e. in August, January, or both), based on approved student's requests.
A request for a prelim has to be submitted before the end of the previous semester to the Graduate Program Director (with a copy sent to the student's advisor).
- There is no limit on the number of times prelim exams can be taken, but if the same exam is failed two times, the student must petition the Graduate Program Committee in order to sit for further attempts at that prelim.
- No later than the fifth semester, to remain in good standing, each student is expected
to find a PhD advisor.
- It is strongly recommended that students take at least 5 prelim courses during the first 5 semesters, unless the advisor has a different study plan.
- The continued support of a student who failed to meet these expectations is contingent on approval, by the student's advisor and the Graduate Program
Committee, of a petition by the student, and on availability of funds.
- The role of prelims is distinct from the role of final examinations in undergraduate courses.
Prelims, as comprehensive examinations, require the student to gather together knowledge, skills and
insights from diverse mathematical areas. Traditionally, exams in different areas are given
during short time periods, which forces the students to study different areas
concurrently. The desired effect, proved over the years, is for students to develop a sense of
mathematical ideas that span the discipline and, thereby, to prepare the student for independent research.
- The UConn implementation of the prelims requires students to take two or more exams after
one year of study. Among the reasons to do so, is to start the process of students being actively involved in mathematics and to speed along those students with unusually strong
preparation. Contrast is
drawn here with the passive activity of taking courses.
- Well prepared entering students are encouraged
to take prelim exams before the first semester. If a student passes a prelim exam without taking the
corresponding prelim course (for example, if she passes in August when she
first arrives), this prelim pass also counts as a prelim course pass.
- Graduate study in mathematics is a rigorous enterprise and requires a sincere commitment.
The faculty has a responsibility both to the student body at large and to the profession to maintain
adequate standards for the Ph.D. degree. Piecemeal passing of prelims over an extended number of
years is not, in the opinion of this committee, generally compatible with the goals of a
mathematics Ph.D. program.
- In some cases the Graduate Program Committee may
recommend the student to take the corresponding prelim course again
if the same exam is failed two times and, in general, students
are not encouraged to take prelim exams without proper preparation. Students, with the approval of the Graduate Program Committee, may be permitted to take
the prelims during or beyond the third year of study under either of the following circumstances:
a clearly defined individualized course of study has been established for a student with a
non-standard background or life circumstances which preclude the usual progress toward degree; it has been demonstrated, on previous tries and/or in course work, that the candidate should
be afforded an unusual opportunity.
- At times, individual circumstances will dictate that the pace and/or content of the
doctoral program should be altered.
The Graduate Program Committee welcomes petitions from students and/or their advisors which will recognize the students' individual interests, backgrounds and goals, within the constraints established by the Graduate School, the College and the Department.