General Examination


The General Examination is an oral exam administered by the student’s supervisory committee taken prior to the start of the third year. It should be scheduled at least three weeks prior to the exam date, or more if so directed by the student’s supervisory committee. It has the following three components:

  1. A written thesis proposal. The student is expected to outline a research topic which has the potential of leading to a PhD dissertation in applied mathematics. This written proposal should contain an outline of a thesis project, as well as an overview of the existing relevant literature. The written proposal should be made available to the supervisory committee one week before the general exam.
  2. A thesis proposal (open to the public) consisting of a thirty minute (maximum) presentation on the content of the written proposal. During and after this public proposal the student will take questions from the general audience.
  3. The thesis proposal is followed by a rigorous oral examination (not open to the public) where the supervisory committee verifies that the student is ready to undertake the proposed work.


The General Examination is administered after the student has passed the Qualifying Examination. The purpose of this examination is fourfold:

  1. To determine whether the student has acquired the necessary background appropriate for his/her proposed research,
  2. To determine whether the student is able to draw on this background to make progress in the proposed research,
  3. To determine whether the student is familiar with existing literature relevant to the proposed research,
  4. To determine whether the proposed research topic and approach have the potential of leading to an acceptable dissertation.

The student will receive a pass or fail depending upon his/her performance. The General Examination can be taken up to a maximum of two times.


Please contact Graduate Program Advisor, Sarah Riley ( when you and your committee have settled upon a day and time for your exam.  Sarah will secure a room reservation for two hours. (As noted above, please allow at least three weeks for scheduling.)  Next, you will officially schedule the exam with the Graduate School.