overview of the department and graduate program


We are a large research department: 64 tenured/track faculty, 13 postdocs and growing.

…and a lot of teaching going on, – both internal and service.

Illustrious past: Doob, Blackwell, Burkholder; K.-T. Chen, Haken, Appel; Bourgain…

Who runs the department:

  • Department Chair (Prof. Hur)
  • Graduate studies: DGS/GAC
  • Teaching: Associate Chair for teaching (Prof. Zharnitsky)

A lot of other functions, – check the FAQ page


Many of you will come here with a firm idea of what research area to follow, – great, but keeps your eyes open.

Attention a research group recieves is a function of the fraction of the global output it produces.

Denominators matter!

Other ways to explore, – see who is doing what

General data on courses in UofI.

program demographics


  • 150 PhD students
  • 50/50 domestic/international
  • 35% women

Admission is a complex process: many interdependent parts; goals; constraints.


All PhD students are fully funded

Most as Teaching Assistants (TA):

  • Typically 120 out of 150 students are on TA
  • The remainder: RA, fellowship

not all TA jobs are the same:

  • Running discussion attached to large lecture (Calculus classes)
  • Grading assignments
  • Stand-alone course
  • Merit program

Assignments often happen in the last minutes, – not always the administration’s fault!


Spread over 3 buildings, Altgeld Hall, Coble Hall and Oil Chemistry Palace. (This semester, Davenport Hall added.)
Assignments, typically stay fixed year to year (although one can always ask for arranged switches).


Rule no. 1 – talk to peers and to us. Help is always near. In particular, talk to advocates.


three stages:

The Holy Text to consult.

comprehensive exams

Early years: Comp system

  • Five graduate-level subjects: Analysis, Algebra, + 3 electives
  • Exam or course
  • Exams offered at three points during the year
    Analysis/Algebra: all three periods; other courses: once per year
  • Courses
    Analysis/Algebra:  every semester; other courses: once per year
finding research home
  • Most students find advisor in 2nd year (expectation: prelim during your 3rd year)
  • Difficult process (think: prom date)
doing research

Not just between you and the problem! Humans are involved. A lot of difficult places to navigate…

some details
  • Typically: 3 courses each semester
  • Other departments fine
MS degree:
  • Typically gotten at some point
  • MS Math, MS Applied Math (several options)
  • Also possible in other departments (ECE, Physics)
end of life cycle (here)


  • Academia vs. industry: about 50% of each
  • Multiple career path programs/activities
  • Thinking about role of mathematicians in the world seriously

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