The first milestone in the Mathematics PhD program are the qualifying exams. Exams are offered in Fall (before the academic year begins) and in Spring. Every PhD must pass at least one exam (with a PhD- or higher) before the start of their second year. Students must complete their exam requirements before the start of their 3rd year. Failure to meet these deadlines is cause for dismissal from the program. Carefully read the Guidelines for Graduate Qualifying Exams document.

Exam requirements are different depending on which program a student is in. Please refer to the UCSD catalog for specific requirements:

The department currently offers written qualifying examinations in seven (7) subjects. These are grouped into three areas as follows:

  • AREA 1: Complex Analysis (Math 220A/B/C), Real Analysis (Math 240A/B/C)
  • AREA 2: Algebra (Math 200A/B/C), Applied Algebra (Math 202A/B/C), Topology (Math 290A/B/C)
  • AREA 3: Numerical Analysis (Math 270A/B/C), Statistics (Math 281A/B/C)

Exam grades are reported at one of four levels: Ph.D. Pass, Provisional Ph.D. Pass, M.A. Pass, and Fail.

During any examination period the student may take as many exams as he or she chooses. The qualifying exams are written and graded by the faculty who teach the courses. The scores are brought before the Qualifying Exam Appeals Committee (QEAC) and the grades are discussed. The final decision as to whether the student has failed or passed (and at what level) is made by QEAC. This decision is based upon exam performance, and performance in exam cognate coursework, though the QEAC is free to consider additional circumstances in rendering its decision. After the QEAC meeting, the PhD staff advisor will inform students when/how they can find out their results.

Students can request to see their exams after grading in order to find out what they did well/poorly on. Students who wish to see their exam for purpose of contesting the grading should be advised that there will be a very strong burden of proof needed to sustain a grade appeal on a graduate exam because of the nature of the exam writing and grading process. Such an appeal is most likely not going change the exam result.



Sample Qualifying Exams

Algebra (Math 200A/B/C):
SP04SP05SP06FA06SP07FA07SP08FA08SP09FA09FA10SP11, FA11SP12SP13FA13,​​​​ SP14FA14SP15SP16SP17FA17SP18, FA18SP19FA19SP20,  FA20SP21, FA21, SP22, FA22, SP23

Applied Algebra (Math 202A/B/C):
SP04FA04SP05SP06SP08FA06SP07FA07FA11SP11SP13SP15SP17 FA17SP18FA18SP19SP20FA20SP21, FA21, SP22, FA22, SP23A, SP23B

Complex Analysis (Math 220A/B/C):
SP04SP05FA05SP06FA06SP07FA07SP08FA08SP09FA09FA10FA11FA15SP11SP12SP13FA13SP15FA16SP17FA17SP18SP19FA19SP20FA20SP21, FA21, SP22, FA22, SP23

Numerical Analysis (Math 270A/B/C):
SP99SP00FA00SP01FA01SP02FA02SP03FA03SP04FA04SP05FA06SP06FA07SP07SP08FA08SP09FA09FA10SP11SP13FA15SP17FA17SP18SP20FA20SP21, FA21, SP22, FA22, SP23

Real Analysis (Math 240A/B/C):
SP04FA04FA05SP06FA06SP07FA07SP08SP09FA09FA10FA11SP11SP13SP15FA16SP16SP17FA17SP18FA18SP20FA20SP21, FA21, SP22, FA22, SP23

Statistics (Math 281A/B):
SP99FA99SP00FA00SP01SP02FA02SP03FA03SP04SP05SP06SP07SP08SP09FA10SP11SP13FA15SP17FA17SP18SP18 FormulasSP19 Part ASP19 Part BCFA19 (Part A)FA19 (Part BC)SP20FA20SP21, FA21, SP22, FA22, SP23AB, SP23C

Topology (Math 290A/B/C):
SP00SP01SP02FA02FA03SP04FA04SP05SP06SP07FA06FA07SP08FA08FA09SP10FA10SP11SP13FA15SP17FA17SP18FA18FA19SP20FA20SP21, FA21, SP22, FA22