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Preliminary Examination

All students must satisfy the department’s preliminary exam requirement in order to continue with the program. The Preliminary Examination consists of written examinations in the following three subjects: algebra, analysis, and geometry/topology. Incoming students are invited to take the Preliminary Examination upon entrance. There is no penalty for failing to pass a preliminary examination taken upon entrance to the program. Incoming students will be required to take the first-year course in each of the prelim subjects they do not pass upon entrance, unless they submit documentation of having passed a comparable course at another institution (or other compelling evidence of familiarity with a subject).

The Preliminary Examination is usually given around early September and at the end of the academic year (typically around Weinberg College’s final exam week in June). Graduate students must take the Preliminary Examination in all three subjects by the end of their first academic year. Each test is a closed book exam that should be completed in 3 hours. Students who do not pass the Preliminary Examination by the end of their first year must pass a make-up examination in September at the beginning of their second year in order to continue in the program beyond the first quarter of the second year. In the presence of strong evidence of other mathematical accomplishment, this rule may be modified or waived with the approval of the Graduate Committee. An award may be offered by the Graduate Curriculum Committee at the end of each academic year to a student who has achieved an outstanding performance in the Preliminary Examination.