Guidelines on master’s directed project

All candidates for the M.S. in Mathematics with Concentration either in Applied Mathematics or in Applied Statistics degree are required to complete 3 credit hours of Directed Project in which they carry out an independent project under the supervision of a member of the graduate faculty. The project could involve a specific application of techniques identified in the literature or studied in other courses. All projects are subject to the prior approval of the department Graduate Committee and must be successfully defended before a committee of at least three graduate faculty members appointed by the department Graduate Committee.

The deadline for the project defense is the last day of the semester in which you intend to graduate. You don’t have to wait until the final semester to do the project though.

The project is optional for students with a concentration in General Mathematics. But if a student in this concentration does choose to do a project, then the 3 credit hours can be counted into the required 15 credit hours in the 7000 level courses.

For doing a project, this is typically what you need to do:

  1. Register for MATH 7892 (Directed Project in Mathematics) or STAT 7892 (Directed Project in Statistics) at the beginning of the semester you wish to do the project.

  2. Find a supervisor: At the beginning of the semester or even before that, talk to professors whose research areas interest you, and identify one particular one asking him/her to serve as the supervisor of your MS project. The professor and you will then determine a project topic. Fill out and sign the MATH 7892 – Directed Project in Mathematics or STAT 7892 – Directed Project in Statistics form currently available at

  3. Carry out the project during the semester under the supervision of your supervisor.

  4. Schedule the project defense: When you are done with the project, you need to successfully defend it before a committee of at least three graduate faculty members. That means, in addition to your project supervisor, you need to find at least another two professors from the department who are willing to take time to sit at your defense and ask you questions. Communicate with the professors to set up a date/time for your defense. You should reserve at least one hour for the defense. After the date/time is set, you need to ask the front desk to help you reserve a room for your defense. Typically we use Fretwell 315 or the Math Conference Room (Fretwell 379), if either is available.

  5. Inform the Graduate Coordinator the schedule if you decide to defend your project and take the comprehensive examination together. Otherwise, the Graduate Coordinator does not have to be informed of the schedule of your project defense.

  6. Defend your project: The defense in some sense is similar to a thesis defense. You give a presentation of your project; the professors ask you questions, etc.

  7. Complete the Defense Report form: At the end of the defense, ask the defense committee to fill out and sign the Defense Report for Master’s Project form currently available at

  8. Turn in the form to the Graduate Coordinator.

Several Remarks:

  1. A student who fails the project defense on his/her first attempt is allowed a second chance, usually within one semester from his/her first attempt. The student, as he/she wishes, can re-do the defense in the same semester as the first attempt.

  2. If you didn’t finish the project and/or cannot defend it by the end of the semester, you will be assigned an Incomplete grade for your MATH 7892 or STAT 7892 course. You will then have one more year to finish and defend your project.

  3. For those students who also need to take their MS comprehensive exam, it is quite common that they choose the same three professors in his/her Comprehensive Examination Committee for the project defense and actually do the project defense and the comprehensive examination on the same day. In this case, a student needs to reserve at least 2 hours for the defense and the examination.