Frequently asked graduate program questions are answered below. For all other inquiries, please contact the Graduate Chair or Graduate Coordinator.

What is the difference between an "advisor" and a "major professor"?
When do I need to find my major professor?
Do I need to inform the Graduate School or Department of Mathematics of the name of my major professor?
What is the difference between a "course plan" and a "program of study"?
When do I need to form my committee?
What if I get a C (or lower) in one of my graduate classes?
How high do/does my grades/GPA have to be?
Do I need to complete a foreign language exam/requirement for my PhD?
Who should I ask if I need clarification of Graduate Handbook or Graduate School rules?
How many times can I take the qualifying exam?
What should I do if I cannot register for thesis/research credit because my major professor is not listed on the schedule of classes?
Can I schedule my office hours or tutoring sessions in the Math conference room or faculty/graduate lounge?
How do I reserve a room for review sessions or other class meetings for my recitation or lecture?
If I enter without a MA or MS in mathematics, do I have to earn a Master’s degree in OSU’s PhD program?
If I enter with a MA or MS in mathematics, do I have to earn a second Master’s degree in OSU’s PhD program?
What do I need to do for my PhD program meeting?
What do I need to do to prepare for graduation?
How do I apply for additional scholarships or awards?
How can I obtain funding to attend professional meetings?
What are the requirements for a graduate minor in mathematics?


What is the difference between an "advisor" and a "major professor"?

When a student enters the graduate program, they are assigned a temporary advisor, a member of Graduate Committee. A student finds a major professor (sometimes also called the advisor) when they have decided what area they want to focus in. The major professor assumes primary advising responsibility and guides the student towards the degree.

When do I need to find my major professor?

MS/MA students must find a major professor by the end of their 3rd term in the graduate program. PhD students should find a major professor in their second year and soon after they pass the qualifying exams. Students in the PhD program who have not been successful in their first attempts in the qualifying exams should find an adviser immediately so they can guide them through alternative options. Students who complete Master’s requirements and wish to continue PhD study under a different major professor should find their new major professor as soon as possible after passing the qualifying exams.

Do I need to inform the Graduate School or Department of Mathematics of the name of my major professor?

You do not need to report the name of your major professor to the Graduate School unless you have already submitted documents listing a different major professor. However, it is recommended that you inform the Mathematics Graduate Chair and Graduate Coordinator so we can update our departmental records and know whom to contact as your primary advisor. As a courtesy, you should inform your previous advisor.

What is the difference between a "course plan" and a "program of study"?

The course plan is a document filed with the Mathematics department which serves as an approval from your advisor for you to register for certain courses in the current academic year. The course plan is verified to ensure your timely progress towards graduation, and it informs the department of the interest in the projected course enrollments. The program of study is a document filed with the Graduate School which defines all courses included in your degree, the members of your graduate committee, and the options/minors you will pursue with this degree. You must have a separate program of study for each degree sought (Master’s and PhD).

When do I need to form my committee?

MS or MA thesis students are required to have GCR and committee signatures on their program of study – thus, MS/MA thesis students should form their committee prior to their program of study meeting. Non-thesis (exam or paper) Master's students do not need to form committees at the time of filing a program of study. Master’s programs of study are due in the Graduate School at least 15 weeks (or 1.5 terms) before the final exam.

It is recommended that PhD students form committees, schedule a program meeting, and file programs of study as soon as possible, since the program of study determines the coursework that will be required for the degree. Delaying formulation of the program of study and having a program meeting, may slow down the completion of coursework and delays the preliminary oral exam. The Graduate School deadline is that PhD students must form their committee (including a GCR) and file the program of study no less than 6 weeks prior to the preliminary oral exam but this deadline may come too late for Mathematics PhD which typically requires substantial coursework component beyond the required core coursework.

Your advisor will help in finding committee members.

What if I get a C (or lower) in one of my graduate classes?

A grade of C is acceptable on the Program of Study as long as the overall GPA is at least 3.0. A grade of below C (such as C- or lower) is not acceptable. If a student received a grade of C- or less from one of the required courses, this course must be repeated until the student gets a C. See point 13 in the Masters program of study instructions, and similar entries for PhD. Also, see the Graduate School's exam page (under "Final Examination").

How high do/does my grades/GPA have to be?

For GTAs/GRAs, a GPA of at least 3.0 is required. More generally, courses included on the Program of Study must have a grade of at least C, and the overall GPA for those courses must be at least 3.0.

Do I need to complete a foreign language exam/requirement for my PhD?

No. In Spring 2016, Mathematics faculty voted to remove the foreign language proficiency requirement from the PhD program. The vote was effective immediately and applied to all current and future students in the PhD program. As of Fall 2016, students who nonetheless wish to take the foreign language exam may optionally do so.

Who should I ask if I need clarification of Graduate Handbook or Graduate School rules?

You may direct your questions to the Graduate Chair or Graduate Coordinator.

How many times can I take the qualifying exam?

The rules enacted in Fall 2014 allow the students to take each of the two parts (Real Analysis and Complex Analysis/Linear Algebra) individually. Students may take each part a maximum of three times. The exams are given twice a year – once at the beginning of Fall term and once at the beginning of Spring term – and typically the two parts are administered two days apart.

What should I do if I cannot register for thesis/research credit because my major professor is not listed on the schedule of classes?

Contact the office staff Scheduling Coordinator and they will submit a request to add your advisor to the schedule.

Can I schedule my office hours or tutoring sessions in the Math conference room or faculty/graduate lounge?

No. You should schedule your office hours in your office.

How do I reserve a room for review sessions or other class meetings for my recitation or lecture?

Contact the office staff Scheduling Coordinator and they will reserve a room for you. Be ready to provide the date/time, maximum number of students attending, board/visual aids needed, and preferred room.

If I enter without a MA or MS in mathematics, do I have to earn a Master’s degree in OSU’s PhD program?

No. However, many students choose to complete the requirements for a Master’s degree on their path towards the PhD. Writing a Master's thesis or paper is a great way to experience some of the steps of the process of writing a PhD dissertation. In addition, getting an intermediate Master's degree is an accomplishment worthy of acknowledgement. Finally, some students complete a Master's in one area and move to a different area for their PhD. It is recommended that students complete their Master's degree in a timely manner.

If I enter with a MA or MS in mathematics, do I have to earn a second Master’s degree in OSU’s PhD program?

No. However, some students choose to complete the requirements for a Master’s degree as they complete the PhD requirements.

What do I need to do for my PhD program meeting?

The student is responsible for 1) forming a committee and selecting a GCR, 2) scheduling the meeting at a time and location suitable for all committee members, 3) creating a draft of the program of study with the major professor prior to the program meeting, and 4) bringing all necessary documents to the meeting. Documents you will need to have with you include a draft of the PhD program of study, the doctoral program meeting checklist, and copies of your current transcript from OSU (and transcripts for any transfer credit from other schools that will apply to your PhD program of study). Bringing additional paperwork such as a CV may be also helpful. Program meetings are run by the major professor but documented by the GCR.

What do I need to do to prepare for graduation?

MA/MS students should:

  • Submit a MA/MS program of study to the Graduate School.
  • Submit a diploma application on MyOSU (click "Student Records," then "Apply for Graduation").
  • Schedule your exam with the Graduate School online, at least two weeks prior to the exam.
  • Schedule your exam in Valley Library 1420 or with the office staff Scheduling Coordinator if it is unavailable or you want a different room.
  • If you choose the thesis option: mail your pre-text pages to the Graduate School’s Thesis Editor, Julie Kurtz, at least two weeks prior to the exam.
  • If you choose the thesis option: send your thesis title to the Graduate Coordinator for advertising and departmental records.

PhD students should:

  • Submit a PhD program of study to the Graduate School.
  • Submit a diploma application on MyOSU (click "Student Records," then "Apply for Graduation").
  • Schedule your exam with the Graduate School online, at least two weeks prior to the exam.
  • Schedule your exam in Valley Library 1420 or with the office staff Scheduling Coordinator if it is unavailable or you want a different room.
  • Mail your pre-text pages to the Graduate School’s Thesis Editor, Julie Kurtz, at least two weeks prior to the exam.
  • Send your thesis title to the Graduate Coordinator for advertising and departmental records.

How do I apply for additional scholarships or awards?

The process of obtaining Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards is different for each such opportunity, but typically involves a recommendation by the advisor or major professor, followed by selection by the Graduate Committee. Opportunities funded by the College, Graduate School, or other entities are next reviewed. Students recommended for these additional opportunities shoudl be (at least) in very good academic standing. Depending on the opportunity, they should show evidence or promise of excellence in their research or professional development, which may include, in particular, research publications, presentations, and other activities.

How can I obtain funding to attend professional meetings?

Various opportunities exist for graduate students to attend professional conferences, workshops, and summer schools, and many of them offer (at least) partial funding for graduate students. These are advertised in the department and university newsletters as well as by various professional societies such as AMS, MAA, and SIAM. We post those sent to use at the Graduate opportunities website. Be sure to identify the events of interest early, discuss them with your advisor, and apply by the deadlines specified. Additional support for students presenting their work may be available by Graduate School, College of Science; please contact your advisor for information how to be nominated for these. Some funds are available also from the department; please contact Department Head.


See also Graduate travel support.

What are the requirements for a graduate minor in mathematics?

We do not have a predefined set of requirements, as the minor advisor (a graduate faculty member in Mathematics) will work with the student to plan an appropriate course of study. Some minors will include a selection from the Mathematics MS/PhD core courses, but the selection will not be the same for all students. See the current handbook or contact the Graduate Chair for more information.