PhD in Mathematics

A student presenting her thesis

The doctoral program in the Department of Mathematics offers the personalized attention of a small department while also providing a wide range of faculty who offer expertise to support dissertation research. The graduate student environment in the department is collaborative and rigorous, with many opportunities for mentorship, peer interaction and interdisciplinary opportunities across and outside the university.

PhD graduates go on to work as policy makers, consultants, data analysts, professors, researchers at internationally renowned institutions and much more. 

Teaching Assistantships and Funding

Full-time PhD students in mathematics are supported primarily through teaching assistantship (TA) positions. Students making acceptable progress in the PhD program are normally funded for at least five (and sometimes six) years.

While teaching assistant (TA) positions are usually offered to PhD students, master’s and part-time students are also invited to apply through the Office of Graduate Student Assistantships and Fellowships website.

TA Financial Package Components
  • A stipend in the form of a GW fellowship
  • Tuition credits (up to nine credit hours per semester)
  • A salary in exchange for teaching work
How to Apply

PhD students apply for teaching assistantships as part of the general GW application process. Applications to the doctoral program completed before February 1 will receive full consideration for TA positions.


The duties of TAs may include teaching a course, conducting recitations, assisting in a computer lab, holding office hours, grading homework and proctoring and grading exams. Such duties typically take about 15 hours per week. 

The graduate committee, in consultation with students' advisors, makes recommendations to CCAS for renewal of support; these recommendations are subject to the approval of the CCAS Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. Students making good progress toward earning a PhD and performing their teaching duties well usually receive at least five years of support. Requests for a sixth year of funding can be made when there is good evidence that the student is likely to complete the degree in the sixth year.

Orientation for New TAs

Several activities for new graduate students are held the week before the fall semester begins: 


At the GTAP orientation, 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.


Sita Ramamurthy

"I owe my success to my beginning days in the U.S. — to all the wonderful professors at GW. If not for their constant support, I would not have completed my PhD and all this would be moot!"

Sita Ramamurti
PhD '95, 2020 Leo Schubert Teaching Award


Course Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Program.


Pre-candidacy requirements include satisfactory completion of 48 credits of coursework and achievement of a passing grade in the general examination.


After completing 36 credits of coursework, students may petition the graduate committee for approval to take MATH 6995, but students may take no more than 12 credits in any combination of MATH 6995 and MATH 8999 in a single academic year.

Students wishing to take courses outside the department must petition and obtain the approval of the graduate committee. The committee may limit the number of such courses that students take.

Subject to the approval of the graduate committee (requested via petition), students may take up to 12 credits of courses offered by other institutions in the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Students wishing to take such courses must petition and obtain the approval of the graduate committee.

Subject to the approval of the graduate committee (requested via petition) and the agreement of the instructor, students may take up to 12 credits from the following upper-level undergraduate courses for graduate credit, provided that additional graduate-level coursework is completed in these classes.

MATH 3613Introduction to Combinatorics
MATH 3632Introduction to Graph Theory
MATH 3710Introduction to Mathematical Logic
MATH 3720Axiomatic Set Theory
MATH 3730Computability Theory
MATH 3740Computational Complexity
MATH 3848Differential Geometry
MATH 4239Real Analysis I
MATH 4240Real Analysis II
MATH 4981Seminar: Topics in Mathematics

General examination

The general examination consists of two preliminary examinations. One examination is in two to four subjects selected from algebra, analysis, topology, and applied math, and the other is a specialty examination in a research area approved by the department.

Post-candidacy requirements

Post-candidacy requirements include the successful completion of an additional 24 credits of graduate coursework, including at least 6 credits of MATH 8999; the completion of the dissertation; and the successful defense of the dissertation in a final oral examination.

No more than 15 credits in any combination of MATH 6995 and MATH 8999 may be among the student's final 18 credits of required coursework.

Once a student successfully completes 24 post-candidacy credits, they must register for 1 credit of CCAS 0940 each subsequent fall and spring semester until they have successfully defended their dissertation, thereby completing the degree program.