Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program Description

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest possible degree in mathematics. It implies the mathematical maturity and ability requisite of a faculty member at the university level, and one who is expected to advance the discipline of mathematics through research and teaching. We seek to achieve this through thorough training in the core areas in mathematics, research specialization, and teaching of undergraduate mathematics.

A more detailed overview of our PhD-program can be found in our Graduate Program Prospectus [pdf]. 

Most of our graduates continue their careers in academia. Many find placements in very competitive post-doctoral research positions which, in recent years, include Princeton University, IAS, University of Chicago, Yale University, University of Michigan, Cal-Tech, Northwestern University, University of Texas, Duke University, SUNY Stony Brook, Purdue University, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, and Indiana University.

Some of our graduates are awarded regular faculty teaching positions at established four-year colleges across the United States. A few enter the private and public sectors, finding employment (often in leadership positions) in the financial or software development industries and for US Federal government agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA).


The Department of Mathematics graduate program has a long tradition at The Ohio State University which goes back to the first doctoral degree awarded to Grace M. Bareis in 1909. To date the department has awarded over 700 PhD degrees, and since 2009 the number of students graduating has been about 20 each year.

Our PhD program currently has about 130 active students. Areas of study and research include:

  • Algebra and Number Theory
  • Algebraic Geometry
  • Applied Mathematics PDF icon [pdf]
  • Real and Complex Analysis, Operator Algebra
  • Combinatorics and Group Theory
  • Differential Geometry
  • Dynamical systems and Ergodic Theory
  • Financial and Actuarial Mathematics
  • Logic
  • Probability Theory, Statistical Mechanics
  • Mathematical Biology
  • Ordinary and partial differential equations
  • Representation theory
  • Scientific computing
  • Topology, Topological Data Analysis

Nearly half of the graduate population consists of domestic students coming from both larger universities and smaller liberal arts colleges with a solid math curriculum. International students come from all parts of the world and different educational backgrounds. About a quarter of our current graduate students are female.

Time to degree varies significantly among our students, ranging from as little as four years for well-prepared students to more than six years for students working on challenging topics. The limit of funding for each student in the program is seven years. We conduct an annual academic review ensuring sufficient progress is being made toward the completion of the degree. Currently, the average time to complete the degree is just above six years.

Admissions Criteria

The academic prerequisites for being considered for the PhD program are: 

  • 4-year BS or BA degree in Mathematics or with a strong emphasis on mathematics coursework
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher* (domestic admissions average slightly above 3.6)
  • Solid background in Real Analysis and Abstract Algebra
  • Further core mathematics courses that demonstrate broader knowledge of the discipline of mathematics
  • Three reference letters from writers qualified to judge the applicant's academic abilities
  • GRE Math Subject Test scores** 
  • Students from non-English speaking countries need to demonstrate reasonable English skills through TOEFL or IELTS scores                          
  • GRE General Test scores are required from international students, as well as from domestic students who wish to be considered for university fellowships

on a 4.0 scale, otherwise 75th percentile or better

** can sometimes be waived upon special request, however, this will disadvantage your application -

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