1. Seminars and Colloquia

Students are expected to regularly attend Departmental colloquia and encouraged to participate in at least one of the ongoing Departmental seminars. For schedules, see the Event schedule.

2. Information and Forms from the College of Graduate Studies and Research

3. Ph.D. Qualifying Examination


The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination is described in the College of Graduate Studies and Research Policies and Procedures Manual Sections 5.3.1 and


Qualifying Examination

The examination normally consists of three written papers (of 3 hours each). The three written papers are on three topics within one of the three possible areas of specialization (Specialization in Applied Mathematics,Specialization in Mathematics, Specialization in Statistics) shown below.  In the first term of registration at the U of S a student will consult with their Advisory Committee regarding the recommended qualifying examination topics for their area of specialization.

The examination will usually be scheduled twice yearly: Spring (first 2 weeks in May) and late Summer (last week in August and first week in September), and will be completed over a two week period.

Each student will have two opportunities to write and pass the examination. A failure on the second attempt will result in the student being asked to discontinue.

In order to pass the examination, a student must pass all three papers. If a student passes two of the three papers then the student may, at the discretion of the Advisory Committee, be required to only rewrite the single failed paper. It should not be presumed however that the student will not be required to write all three papers in the event that only one paper is failed on the first attempt. If two or more papers are failed on the first attempt then the student must write and pass three papers in the second attempt. 

A student registering in the Ph.D. program in September (resp. in January), must pass the examination within 13 months (resp. 17 months). A student who has earned a M.Sc. degree in the Department and who continues with the intention of obtaining a Ph.D. degree must pass the examination within 13 months of the successful M.Sc. defense.

Specialization in Applied Mathematics:

  •  Methods of Applied Mathematics
  •  Two exams from the following list:
    •  Algebra
    •  Analysis
    •  Topology
    •  Differential Geometry
    •  Numerical Methods
    •  Mathematical Statistics or Stochastic Processes from the Specialization in Statistics list. 

Specialization in Mathematics:

  • Algebra
  • Analysis
  • Topology
  • any other topic listed under Specialization in Statistics or Specialization in Applied Mathematics. 

where at least two of the three topics must be chosen from 1)-3). In these topics, the students will be tested on the material of corresponding senior upper year honours classes.

Specialization in Statistics:

  • Mathematical Statistics
  • Applied Statistics I
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Applied Statistics II
  • any other topic listed under Specialization in Mathematics or Specialization in Applied Mathematics.

4. Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination


The Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination is described in the College of Graduate Studies and Research Policies and Procedures Manual Section 5.3.1.


Comprehensive Examination

For the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the student should have completed almost all courses required for the Ph.D. degree and made considerable progress on acquiring the necessary background for the thesis research. The examination will be conducted by the student's Advisory Committee and should be passed no later than 36 months after first registration as a Ph.D. student. Extensions to this deadline are to be made only by the Graduate Committee. 

The purpose of the exam is to determine whether the student’s progress towards their thesis is adequate, or, if it is not found to be adequate, to permit the Advisory Committee to offer constructive criticism to assist the student in achieving the desired end.  The Committee will  evaluate the student on (a) background knowledge in the areas relevant to the research project, (b)  specific knowledge in the area of the research project, (c) progress and potential toward completion of the program, (d) ability to communicate and present ideas clearly in writing and orally.  Determination of whether the Comprehensive Exam has been passed is based on the evaluation of all four of these factors.  There are three main components of the Comprehensive Examination.  These are the Written Report, Oral Presentation, and Question Period as described below.

Written Report:  The written report should not exceed 30 pages in length and is to be submitted to the committee at least one week prior to the oral presentation.  The content of the written report should demonstrate that the student has a working knowledge of the subject matter of the thesis project.  The report must be properly structured, describe the motivation for the project (including any work done by the student), give relevant background information (including bibliography), and describe future research.  The report must contain a review of the background mathematics/statistics appropriate to the student’s  research specialization.  The report must also include a survey of the literature appropriate to the research specialization.  This material may subsequently form the introductory part of the student’s thesis.  The report must be written at the level of English that meets University Standards.

Oral Presentation:  The oral presentation is a 40-minute long presentation to the Advisory Committee.  During the oral presentation, logical structure and organization, quality of visual aids as well as speaking style and manner will be evaluated.

Question Period:  The question period is to determine whether the student has a good working knowledge of the basic mathematics/statistics of the thesis project and whether the student has sufficient knowledge of the specifics of the thesis project. 

Policies approved: May 31 2005
Updated:  May 25, 2012