Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics

See the catalog copy of the description of the Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics program.

1. Overview

A student in the Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics degree program must maintain satisfactory academic progress towards completion of the degree. Student satisfactory academic progress is primarily assessed by: (a) satisfactory coursework performance, (b) the Qualifying Examination, (c) the Dissertation Topic Approval Defense, and (d) the Dissertation Defense. Courses and the Qualifying Examination are used to ensure that the student has the breadth as well as the depth of knowledge needed for research success. The Dissertation Topic Approval Defense is used to ensure that the scope of dissertation research is important, that the plan is well thought out, and that the student has sufficient skills and thoughtfulness needed for success. The Dissertation Defense is used to assess the outcomes of the dissertation research, and whether or not the plan agreed upon by the Dissertation Committee has been appropriately followed.

The key requirements and milestones for the Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics degree are provided below. Failure to satisfy the requirements can result in suspension or dismissal from the program.

  • Minimum Hours
  • Interdisciplinary Minor
  • Core Courses
  • Additional “Core” Courses
  • Qualifying Examination
  • Dissertation Committee
  • Dissertation Topic Approval Defense
  • Dissertation Defense
  • Graduation

2. Minimum Hours

To earn a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics degree, a student must complete at least 56 approved post baccalaureate credit hours. This includes 2 hours of Responsible Conduct of Research (GRAD 8302), at least 18 hours of dissertation research and reading (MATH 8994), and the hours for the interdisciplinary minor. Graduation requirements mandate that students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to graduate. Receiving more than two grades of C or a single grade of U in any graduate course will result in a suspension from the program.

A limited amount of transfer credit is allowed. In accordance with rules of the UNC Charlotte Graduate School, students are allowed to transfer up to 30 semester hours of graduate credit earned at UNC Charlotte or other recognized graduate programs. Only courses with grades A or B may be accepted for transfer credit. To receive transfer credit, students must file an online request (and submit all necessary documents including copies of transcripts and course syllabi if requesting to transfer non-UNC Charlotte courses).

File an online request to transfer post-Baccalaureate credits at http://gpetition.uncc.edu.

3. Interdisciplinary Minor

The interdisciplinary minor may be satisfied by 9 hours of graduate work outside the mathematics department, by 6 credit hours for a directed project in an area of application (MATH 8691/8692), or by a combination of external coursework and a directed project in an area of application totaling 9 credit hours.

It is expected that interdisciplinary minor courses shall in general be in STEM disciplines, but if there are applications in the student’s dissertation work towards the social sciences, courses in those fields are allowed too. The following is a non-exhaustive list of interdisciplinary minor courses allowed for several fields.

Physics: PHYS 5222, 5232, 5242, 5271, 6101 through 6201, 6203 through 6211, 6221 through 6271. A common example is PHYS 6210, but 5242 and 5271 would also be along the same lines.

Optics: OPTI 8101, 8102, 8104, 8105, 8211 with 8102, 8104, and 8211 being particularly relevant.

Mechanical Engineering: MEGR 6116, 7113, 7164 for students who have specialized in math of fluids, while 6141, 6125, 7102, 7142, and 7143 for those specializing in continuum mechanics and elasticity.

Computer Science: ITCS 6111, 6114, 6150, 6153, 6155, 6165, 6170, 6171, 6220, 6226 with 6114 commonly taken.

Finance and Economics: Any of FINN or ECON courses listed under the MS Mathematical Finance program. Common examples include FINN 6203, 6210, 6211, and ECON 6206, 6113, 6219.

Mathematics Education: Any graduate level MAED courses such as MAED 6122, 6123, 6124.

4. Core Courses

All students in the Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics degree program must take the following courses, regardless of their intended area of study:

  • GRAD 8302 Responsible Conduct of Research (2 hours, usually required to take within the first year in the program)
  • MATH 8143 Real Analysis I (3 hours)
  • MATH 8144 Real Analysis II (3 hours)
  • MATH 8994 Doctoral Research and Reading (at least 18 hours)

Students whose intended area of study is statistics or mathematical finance are also required to take

  • MATH 8120 Theory of Probability I (3 hours)

5. Additional “Core” Courses

The following courses, though not explicitly required, are strongly recommended for each area of study.

Statistics: STAT 5123, 5124, 5126, 5127, 6115, 8127, 8133, 8135, 8137, 8139, 8122, 8123, 8027 (at least once)

Computational Math: MATH 5165, 5171, 5172, 5173, 5174, 5176, 8172, 8176

PDE and Mathematical Physics: MATH 5173, 5174, 8172 

Probability: MATH 5128, 5129, 8120, 8125

Dynamical Systems: MATH 5173, 5174, 7275, 7276, 7277

Topology: MATH 5181, 8171, 8172 and independent study

Algebra: MATH 5163, 5164, 8163, 8164, and 8065 and/or independent study

Mathematical Finance: MATH 6202, 6203, 6204, 6205, 6206

6. Qualifying Examination

After being admitted to the Ph.D. program, a student is expected to take the qualifying examination within three semesters. This time limit may be extended up to two additional semesters in certain cases, depending on the background of the student and with program approval. The qualifying examination consists of two parts: the first part is a written examination based on Real Analysis I and II (MATH 8143/8144) or Theory of Probability I and Real Analysis I (MATH 8120/8143), the latter intended for a student with intended area of study in statistics or mathematical finance. The second part is a written examination based on two other courses chosen by the student to be specifically related to the student’s intended area of study and approved by the Graduate Coordinator. Typical choices for Part II are STAT 5126/5127, MATH 5173/5174, MATH 5172/5176, MATH 5163/5164, MATH 6205/6206, etc. The student may be allowed to retake a portion of the qualifying examination a second time if the student does not pass that portion on the first attempt within the guidelines of the Graduate School regulations pertaining to the qualifying examination and as overseen by the department Graduate Committee. A student who does not complete the qualifying examination as per the regulations of the Graduate School will be terminated from the Ph.D. program.

Complete and submit the following form after taking the Qualifying Examination.
(Qualifying Exam Report Form) -> Graduate School form.

7. Dissertation Committee

After passing the Qualifying Examination, the student must set up a Dissertation Committee of at least four graduate faculty members, which must include at least three graduate faculty members from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and one member appointed by the Graduate School. The committee is chaired by the student’s dissertation advisor. If the dissertation advisor is a graduate faculty member from an outside department or institution, a graduate faculty member from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics must be a co-chair of the committee. The Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator. After identifying and obtaining the signatures of the Dissertation Committee faculty, the Appointment of Doctoral Dissertation Committee Form must be sent to the Graduate School for the appointment of the Graduate Faculty Representative.

The Dissertation Committee should be appointed as soon as it is feasible, usually within a year after passing the Qualifying Examination.

Complete and submit the following form within a year of passing the Qualifying Examination.
(Appointment of Doctoral Dissertation Committee Form) -> Graduate School form.

8. Dissertation Topic Approval Defense

Each student must present and orally defend a Ph.D. dissertation proposal after passing the Qualifying Examination and within ten semesters of entering the Program. The Dissertation Topic Approval Defense will be conducted by the student's Dissertation Committee, and will be open to faculty and students. The dissertation proposal must address a significant, original and substantive piece of research. The proposal must include sufficient preliminary data and a timeline such that the Dissertation Committee can assess its feasibility.

The student should provide copies of the written dissertation proposal to the Dissertation Committee at least two weeks prior to the oral defense. At the discretion of the Dissertation Committee, the defense may include questions that cover the student's program of study and background knowledge and techniques in the research area. The Dissertation Committee will unanimously grade the Dissertation Topic Approval Defense as pass/fail according to the corresponding rubrics. A student may retake the Dissertation Topic Approval Defense if he/she fails the first time. The second failed attempt will result in the termination of the student's enrollment in the Ph.D. program. It is expected that the student first take the proposal defense by the ninth semester after enrollment to provide time for a second try should the first one fail. A doctoral student advances to Ph.D. candidacy after the dissertation proposal has been successfully defended. Candidacy must be achieved at least six months before the degree is conferred (so if you plan to graduate in a spring semester with the commencement on May 14, then you would need to successfully defend your dissertation topic by November 13 the prior year.)

The student must follow the following procedure in order to defend the dissertation proposal.

  • Communicate with the Dissertation Committee to set up a date/time for the oral defense, and reserve a defense room for at least two hours.
  • Send an electronic or written copy of the dissertation proposal to each member of the Dissertation Committee at least two weeks prior to the oral defense.
  • Inform the Graduate Coordinator the schedule at least one week prior to the oral defense.

Complete and submit the following form only after successfully passing the Dissertation Topic Approval Defense.
(Petition for Topic Approval Form) -> Graduate School Form.

9. Dissertation

Each student must complete and defend a dissertation based on a research program approved by the student's dissertation advisor which results in a high quality, original and substantial piece of research. The student must orally present and successfully defend the dissertation before the student's doctoral dissertation committee in a defense that is open to the public. The Dissertation will be unanimously graded as pass/fail based on the corresponding rubrics by the Dissertation Committee and must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. Two attempts of the Dissertation Defense are permitted. The second failed attempt will result in the termination of the student's enrollment in the Ph.D. program.

The student must follow the following procedure in order to defend the dissertation.

  • Communicate with the Dissertation Committee to set up a date/time for the public defense, and reserve a defense room for at least two hours with the help of the Graduate Coordinator.
  • Send an electronic or written copy of the dissertation to each member of the Dissertation Committee at least three weeks prior to the public defense.
  • Send an electronic copy of the dissertation in PDF as well as an abstract in a separate word file to the Graduate Coordinator at least two weeks prior to the public defense. The abstract is limited to 200 words, and does not have to be the same as the abstract included in the dissertation.
  • Prepare a presentation that should be at least 45 minutes long.

Complete and submit the following forms after defending your Dissertation.
(Dissertation Report for Doctoral Candidates Form) -> Graduate School Form.

Also, submit the Dissertation Title Page with Original Committee Signatures.

In addition, submit ETD Signature Form with original committee and student signatures to the Graduate School within 24 hours after defense.

10. Graduation

Detailed information about graduation including the dissertation manual can be found on the Graduate School's Graduation website. The Graduation process consists of the following steps and all three are required to complete the graduation process.

  1. Complete the online graduation application - directions below – deadlines in the academic calendar.
  2. Submit an approved candidacy application to the Graduate School – directions below – deadlines in the academic calendar.
  3. Register for the term of graduation – deadlines in the academic calendar. 

How to Apply for Graduation: Log into My UNCC. Select Banner Self Service, Student Services, Student Records and Online Graduation Application.  Read the directions. Click “Continue” if this is the first time you have applied for graduation or “Create a New Application” if you have applied previously. After you complete all sections, remember to click the “Submit” button. 

How to Access the Electronic Candidacy Application: Log into My UNCC. Select Banner Self Service, Student Services, Student Records and Apply for Candidacy for Graduate Students. Carefully read and follow all directions for each section. The total number of credit hours selected must be at least the minimum required for your degree or certificate.  After you complete all sections, click the "Print" button.  Do not change the page layout or formatting in any way.  Take the printed document to your department for the Graduate Coordinator’s approval signature and then submit it to the Graduate School.  Electronically submitted forms are not accepted.

Pay attention to the various deadlines in the official UNC Charlotte academic calendar, in particular, the following deadlines if you are planning to graduate.

  • Deadline for graduate students to file candidacy form
  • Deadline for graduate students to apply for graduation
  • Doctoral dissertation pre-defense formatting consultation deadline
  • Doctoral dissertation defense deadline
  • Doctoral dissertation post-defense formatting consultation deadline
  • Last day to submit doctoral dissertations to Graduate School

In addition, complete and submit the following forms to the graduate school.

Finally, a sample graduation checklist for doctotal graduates can be found here. Make sure

  • All courses with In Progress grades have been assigned grades; check with your advisor to ensure this happens. This must be completed 10 days prior to the commencement.
  • All courses in the current term have been assigned grades; check with your advisor or instructor to ensure this happens. This must be completed 10 days prior to the commencement.