AMCS Graduate Curriculum

AMCS students study theoretical mathematics, applied mathematics, and an outside area in which mathematics is applied. Then they do dissertation research on a problem involving the outside area. The goals of the AMCS graduate curriculum are:

  • To develop the competence of all AMCS students in four core areas.
  • To give AMCS students the opportunity to get early starts on their research.
  • To have an AMCS curriculum that facilitates transfers to and from Mathematics.

Section 1: Summary of Requirements

Subsection 1.1 Required Courses in Core Areas

  • MATH:5200/MATH:5210 - Analysis
  • MATH:5400/MATH:5410 - Topology
  • MATH:5600/MATH:5700 - Differential Equations with Numerical Methods
  • MATH:5800/MATH:5810 - Numerical Analysis

Every student must pass all four core course sequences (or be exempted -- see details in Section 2) in the first two years of graduate study. Detailed course descriptions are available at the Department of Mathematics home page http://www.math.uiowa.edu/ by following the link to Graduate Program and then Course Information. These core courses are accessible to students who have completed single and multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and an introduction to analysis.

Subsection 1.2. Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations

Every student must pass Ph.D. qualifying examinations in three of the four core areas. These area examinations are based on the MATH:5000-level core sequences given in Subsection 1.1. The AMCS Qualifying Examinations must be passed within two years after beginning graduate study.

Subsection 1.3. Outside Area Courses and Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination

Every student must take and pass an outside area Ph.D. level course sequence.  An outside area is defined as an area outside of mathematics, in which mathematics is applied. A Ph.D. level course sequence is a sequence of two regular courses at 6000-level or higher. In case it is difficult to find a Ph.D. level course sequence in the outside area, the student should contact the AMCS Director for an appropriate arrangement of equivalent courses.

Every student must pass a Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination over the outside research area within three and a half years after beginning graduate study. The Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination is based on the outside area courses and/or directed reading.

Subsection 1.4. Advanced Mathematics Course Requirement

In order to establish a solid foundation in mathematics, all AMCS students must pass at least 12 credit hours of graduate mathematics courses numbered from MATH:6000 to MATH:7799 with the exception of the seminars. The courses in the student’s written plan of study should be chosen to obtain mathematical breadth and must be approved by the AMCS Director.

Section 2: Details on the Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations

Every student is required to demonstrate competence in each of the four core areas, either by passing the four core course sequences, or by passing the relevant portion of the Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations.  Graduate courses transferred from other universities may be used to satisfy the core course and advanced mathematics course requirements, subject to approval of the AMCS Director.

The student must pass the Ph.D. Qualifying Exams within the first two years of graduate study in three of the four core areas, based on the four MATH:5000-level core course sequences listed in Section 1.  The Ph.D. Qualifying Exams will be offered in all areas (as needed by student registration) at the beginning of each fall and spring semester.  A Ph.D. student must register for the Ph.D. Qualifying Exams by the announced deadline, usually about a month before the start of the semester.  A Ph.D. student cancelling his/her registration must do so at least one week prior to the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam session.  After this date, any examination area not taken will be marked as "fail".

The Ph.D. Qualifying Exams consist of examinations in core areas (see Section 1) chosen by the Ph.D. student.  Each examination area is three hour long and can be taken during different sessions.  For each examination area, the student will receive a grade of "Ph.D. level pass", "Master's level pass" or "fail".  An honorific grade of  "Ph.D. level pass with Distinction" will be given for exceptional performance. To pass the Ph.D. Qualifying Exams, the student must pass three different examination areas with the mark of "Ph.D. level pass".  Each examination area can be attempted at most three times.  For a repeated examination area the best result counts, i.e., a mark of "fail" does not replace that of "Master's level pass".  It is not mandatory for the student to retake an examination area with a mark of "fail" or "Master's level pass" in a subsequent session; another area can be substituted.

Sample Timelines:

The core course requirements and Ph.D. Qualifying Exams system allow

  • Entering Ph.D. students with exceptional preparation the opportunity to pass the Ph.D. Qualifying Exams at the beginning of their graduate study, and move directly to research related activities, finish both core course requirements and Ph.D. Comp Exam by the beginning of their second year;
  • Entering Ph.D. students with very strong preparation the opportunity to pass some of the area exams at the beginning of their graduate study, and concentrate on the remaining areas, and possibly pass the Ph.D. Qualifying Exams at the beginning of their second year of graduate study and thus again move quickly to research related activities as soon as their second year, finish both core course requirements and Ph.D. Comp Exam by the end of their second year;
  • Entering students with adequate preparation the opportunity to start three core course sequences in the first year and pass the Ph.D. Qualifying Exams at the beginning of their second year and thus again move quickly to research related activities as soon as their second year, finish both core course requirements and Ph.D. Comp Exam by the end of their second year;
  • Entering students with weaker preparation the opportunity ro start two core course sequences in the first year and two more in the second year, pass Ph.D. Qualifying Exams during these two years and finish at the end of their second year, while in their third year they start on Ph.D. Comp Exam preparation, finish both core course requirements and Ph.D. Comp Exam by the end of their third year. 

The two year timeframe also allows the flexibility for any Ph.D. student to switch the areas of the Ph.D. Qualifying Exams during their first two years.

These new rules will start to be applied to the new class of students entering in Fall 2016 and also to current first year students opting for these new rules before August 15, 2016.

Section 3: Details on the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination

It is required that every Ph.D. candidate must pass an oral Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination within three and a half years after beginning graduate study.  Each student must submit a written Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination proposal to the AMCS Director for approval.  The proposal must include names of the examining committee members, the date and time of the exam, and an abstract of presentation material.  The examining committee must contain at least five faculty members, including the chair of the committee.  Note that we must submit an exam request form to the Graduate College at least two weeks before the exam date. Typically the Comprehensive Exam would build on the outside area courses with additional readings from books and research papers. The student would give an oral presentation of the material (usually about one hour) and be questioned over the material by the committee.  

Section 4: Academic Registration

According to <a href="http://www.grad.uiowa.edu/manual-part-1-section-xii-doctors-degrees"> Section XII. Doctor's Degrees, C. Academic Registration Requirement</a> of the <a href="http://www.grad.uiowa.edu/graduate-college-manual?portal=current-students"> Graduate College Manual of Rules and Regulations</a> : All doctoral programs will contain a minimum of 72 semester hours of graduate work. Of those 72 semester hours, at least 39 must be earned while registered in The University of Iowa Graduate College. After completing 21 semester hours of graduate work under Graduate College registration and in compliance with the Graduate College policy for time limits on academic credit, i.e., courses ten years or older may not be counted toward the degree, students must complete an additional 18 semester hours to be taken as follows: (1) enrollment as a full-time student (9 semester hours minimum) in each of two semesters, or (2) enrollment for a minimum of 6 semester hours in each of three semesters. A student must be registered in the semester in which (s)he earns her/his degree.

Section 5: Ph.D. Dissertation

See <a href="http://www.grad.uiowa.edu/manual-part-1-section-xii-doctors-degrees"> Section XII. Doctor's Degrees, M. Dissertation for the Doctoral Degree</a> of the <a href="http://www.grad.uiowa.edu/graduate-college-manual?portal=current-students"> Graduate College Manual of Rules and Regulations.