Qualifying Exam

Students are admitted to the PhD program provisionally. To continue as PhD candidates students must pass the Qualifying Examination by the end of their third semester in the program. MS students must pass the Qualifying Examination to earn a Plan C MS degree. The Qualifying Exam covers advanced undergraduate material and helps determine if students have the necessary knowledge to succeed in our graduate program. Students may benefit by taking senior level courses to prepare for these exams.

Exam Structure and Topics

The exam consists of two closed-book, three-hour exams. All students take the first exam on linear algebra. The second exam subject depends on the student's area of concentration.


The Qualifying Exams are administrated twice a year, during orientation week in the fall and during weeks three or four of spring semesters. Students are notified by email of the registration deadline, approximately six weeks prior to the exam.


Need help to study? Use the below previous practice exams.

Qualifying Exam Practice

Qualifying Syllabus and Sample Problems