Graduate FAQ's

If not all your questions about applying to the graduate mathematics program at GW are addressed here, please send your questions.

Whom Should I Ask for Letters of Recommendation?

The most informative letters generally come from (a) your professors in recent, advanced mathematics courses and (b) those who have supervised any mathematical work of an advanced nature, whether course work (e.g., in GW's SPWM program, Penn State's MASS program, or a Budapest Semester in Mathematics) or independent research (e.g., in a summer REU program or a research program at your undergraduate institution). We certainly like to hear about strong performances in classes, but we hope that the letters give us information that we cannot gather from your transcript alone --- for example, we'd like to get a sense of your degree of motivation, your level of mathematical insight, and your capacity for hard work --- so it is wise to ask for letters from those you have interacted with most extensively and at the highest level. The letters should give us a sense of your prospects for success in graduate mathematics courses and independent mathematical research. Letters from work supervisors, from professors in disciplines other than mathematics, or from mathematics professors who have not seen your work since you took calculus are often, to us, of little help.

Should I Take the GRE Subject Exam for Mathematics?

While we do not require the exam, we encourage taking it. (We do not require it precisely since we do not want to exclude applicants who choose to not take it --- all applications to our program receive full consideration.) When deciding whether to take the GRE subject exam, please consider that it can help round out the information we gather from your letters of recommendation and transcripts (to which we give much attention).

Should I Provide Additional Details About my Mathematics Courses?

 There are several situations in which it is likely to be advantageous to provide additional information. In some programs (mostly outside of the U.S.), course titles are generic and convey little information to people outside of a particular institution or educational system --- examples of such titles are First-Year Mathematics, Second-Year Mathematics, etc. --- in such cases, please let us know what material the courses covered. Also, if we are not likely to be very familiar with the school(s) you studied at, it would be helpful to give us a list stating the textbook(s) used in each course --- this helps us to gauge the level of the courses

Should I Include Information About Courses That Do Not Yet Appear On My Transcript?

Definitely, we like to have as complete a picture of your background as possible, so please tell us what courses you are currently enrolled in and what courses you plan to take before starting graduate school. (Please clearly distinguish between those two categories.)

Should I Visit GW?

 We do not require visits by prospective students, but we certainly welcome visits. If you are interested in visiting and find it convenient to do so, please contact us, preferably with at least a few weeks advanced notice so that we can set up a series of short meetings for you with faculty members and current graduate students.