Welcome to our graduate program. The information given here complements the technical details described in PhD and Master's Programs. Below you will find the information on resources available (advising, seminars and colloquia, computer and library facilities, etc.) and, for those who have a teaching assistantship (TAship), basic information about your duties.
It is important to keep in mind your overall responsibilities as a mathematics graduate student: to acquire as much mathematical knowledge as possible; to complete, in a timely manner, the requirements for your degree; and, if you are interested in academic employment, to acquire teaching experience. The department is eager to support you in becoming a successful professional mathematician and educator.
Moving to the Washington Area
Your graduate experience at GW will be enhanced by our location. Being in the heart of Washington, DC allows our students to take advantage of the many opportunities that the city offers. The ethnic diversity and cultural wealth of the Washington, DC area make this an interesting place to live and work.
If you do not already live in the Washington area, it would be wise to make your housing arrangements and familiarize yourself with the area and the department at least a few weeks before classes begin. Several activities mentioned in the next paragraph require new students to be on campus the week before the start of classes (see the Academic Calendar under "Quick Links" at My.GWU for the date that classes begin). Local newspapers and Off-Campus Housing have information on area housing. Feel free to contact your fellow graduate students for tips on finding housing.
Several activities for new graduate students are held the week before the Fall Semester begins: a Graduate Teaching Assistant Program (GTAP) organized by The Office of Graduate Student Assistantships & Fellowships; an English test and interview for international students; and an orientation for mathematics graduate students, organized by our department. At the GTAP, each new TA gives a five-minute sample presentation to a small group of peers and is evaluated for effective communication; all students, especially international students, are encouraged to discuss their presentation in advance with their academic advisor.
From the International Services Office, (202) 994-6860, international students can get information on organizations and support groups for graduate students from their countries.
Mathematical and Social Enviroment of the Department
Our program offers the individual attention of a modestly-sized department while also providing a rich spectrum of areas in which graduate students can conduct their dissertation research.
There is great interaction within our community of graduate students and faculty. Among the many features that foster this interaction are the small class sizes (typically five to ten students per course), the proximity of the graduate student offices to those of the faculty, and the many seminars that give students paths into the areas of faculty expertise. You are always welcome to talk with the faculty and you are encouraged to participate in all departmental activities.
The colloquium aims to expose all of us to a variety of mathematical subjects and current research problems. Colloquia are important experiences that contribute to our overall awareness of the field. Everyone is strongly encouraged to attend, and full time graduate students are required to do so. We ask colloquium speakers to make their talks accessible to graduates students and faculty in all areas of mathematics. Do not be discouraged if you do not understand talks in their entirety; the accessibility of talks varies, but from all talks one can at least gain an initial exposure to different areas of mathematics and their basic problems.
The department offers weekly research seminars in many areas of interest to faculty and graduate students. You should attend seminars in subjects that interest you. Seminars expose you to current research and give you opportunities to meet researchers from other institutions. Seminar topics may suggest possible areas for your own research.
The graduate student seminar features presentations by, or specifically targeted at, graduate students. Through this seminar you can learn about the current research projects of your peers, which may suggest what topics you might want to pursue. All students should participate actively in this seminar, and full time graduate students are required to do so.
Speaking in seminars is good preparation for the many future occasions when you will be asked to give talks as a professional mathematician.
Graduate Student Community
Our department has a strong tradition of graduate students working together toward their common goal of becoming mathematicians. For instance, many students study together for courses; it is common for those preparing for the written qualifying exams to work in groups to solve the problems on the past exams; some students collaborate on research; also, from time to time TAs visit each others' recitations and offer advice and constructive criticism on what works and what can be made more effective. You are encouraged to initiate such mutually beneficial activities. (It is important to use such collaborations wisely, benefiting from sharing ideas with others while making sure that your capacity for independent work fully develops.)
One of the department's bulletin boards is devoted to information of interest to graduate students. You are encouraged to take an active role in tailoring this bulletin board to the interests of our current students by posting, for instance, mathematical problems, news, announcements of events, and funding information (e.g., grants and prizes for graduate students).
You have a standing invitation to all social events of the department. You are welcome to join faculty for lunch with colloquium or seminar speakers.