graduate program admission: pipe and timeline

NB: This is a slightly edited repost from about a year ago.

‘Tis the season: applications to our PhD program in mathematics are in (500+ this year, again), and the delicate process starts, at the end of which we will be richer with a dozen or two of bright graduate students.

Here’s what is going on. Each application is read by at least two members of the graduate admission committee, who will triage them into the groups on the success estimate: definitely will be successful in the program, probably will be, and probably not (yet).

At the same time everyone in the department is invited to look at the applications that mention their area, or their name. This will provide some extra context. Moreover, if a faculty member decides that they definitely would like to supervise a candidate, the candidate is almost certainly guaranteed an offer, if we are certain they will pass the comprehensive courses (see the Graduate Guide for details).

These two processes are happening now. As the result, a shortlist of candidates will emerge.

The Director of Graduate Studies (moi) will then read carefully the shortlisted files, and rank those. I will be taking into consideration the maturity (how much mathematics the applicant knows already), experience (did they try themselves in research?) and the human factor: how they will make this department and campus humanly richer. Unusual life stories, nerdy jobs, bizarre hobbies, surprising skills – all that counts…

Context matters, of course: we do not expect a student to take graduate level classes if their small college had none. And we do not look for a skillful turn of phrase if you hail from a far away country. The department is very diverse, and we know how different life experiences are, and how much that matters.

So, with all that, we will form a much shorter list of candidates to who the offers will be made, – around mid February. To help those who were offered admission to decide, we will conduct a virtual open house, similar to what was done in 2022 and 2023.

The deadline for acceptance for PhD students offered admission with funding is on April 15. Most of the students accept their offers a bit earlier, resulting sometimes in a few last minute offers.

An update: the main batch of offers was sent on 2.4.24. We will inform the remaining applicants whether they are on the waiting list or not within a week.

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