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Graduate degrees offered

The Department of Mathematics offers three degrees:  Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.).  At any given time, we have approximately 60 graduate students enrolled, of which approximately 95% are Ph.D. students supported by Teaching Assistantships. 

CU Boulder undergraduates have the option of a concurrent masters program (see also department overview of the concurrent program), which has a different admissions process.  This page does not apply to that program.

The University of Colorado Boulder also has an Applied Mathematics department which is a separate department with a separate program and separate admissions.  This page does not apply to that program.

Admissions process

Applications are made online through the Graduate School.  Please choose "Mathematics" (not our sister department "Applied Mathematics") to apply to our department.  Applications generally open in the summer and deadlines occur in the late fall or early winter.  Decisions are rolling, beginning in early spring.  Our admissions rate varies from 20-35% (i.e. offers made).  Each year, we have an entering class of approximately 8-10 funded doctoral students (i.e. offers accepted).  Unfunded students and Masters students are on a case-by-case basis.  Please see the Graduate School Deadlines Page for this year's deadlines (please be careful to look for our department, Mathematics, not our sister department Applied Mathematics).

Requirements for admission

Admissions requirements are:

  • Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, or have done work equivalent to that required for such a degree.  If this degree is not in mathematics, applicants must have completed a comparable amount of mathematical coursework in preparation for graduate study.  In particular, the applicant is recommended to have taken proof-based courses in real analysis and abstract algebra, at a minimum.
  • Applicants must show promise of ability to pursue advanced study and research, as judged by the applicant’s scholastic record.  The Graduate School has a minimum requirement of at least a 2.75 (2.00=C) undergraduate grade point average.
  • Applicants are required to submit at least three (3) Letters of Recommendation.  If submitting a fourth (4th) letter, submit to gradprocessing@colorado.edu.  No more than four (4) letters will be accepted.
  • Applicants must provide both General and Mathematics Subject GRE scores.
  • Applicants must provide unofficial transcripts from all previous colleges or universities attended. Official transcripts are required upon admission.  Failure to include all transcripts is considered a violation of academic ethics.
  • International students must provide TOEFL or IELTS scores unless exempt (see the Graduate School English Proficiency Regulations).  The Mathematics department requires a TOEFL score of at least 100 (internet version) or 600 (paper version), or IELTS score of at least 7.0.  This minimum is strictly enforced.
  • Exceptions to fees and testing:  The mathematics department wishes to make the application process accessible to students in difficult circumstances.  Students who do not have access to GRE testing in their home country, or are unable to pay testing/application fees, may petition to have application fees and testing waived or delayed.  Please contact the Graduate Assistant.
  • The Graduate School waives fees for current McNair Scholars and active Peace Corps or AmeriCorps volunteers. If you are a McNair Scholar or an active volunteer for the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps, please contact gradadm@colorado.edu for more information before you complete your application.
  • Please ensure that all GRE/TOEFL/IELTS scores are sent to the Mathematics Department at CU Boulder, and not to our sister department, Applied Mathematics.
  • Applicants must fulfill all admissions requirements of the CU Boulder Graduate School.

Financial support

Doctoral students are typically supported by a Teaching Assistantship, offered with admission.  Typically, this has been a 50% appointment (20 hrs/week), which involves teaching recitation sections or lectures, participating in course duties such as setting exams and grading assignments, and serving in the MARC.  Courses range from algebra to calculus and statistics.  They are run in small sections taughts by graduate students and faculty, and coordinated by a faculty member.  The Assistantship includes a stipend (for the 2018-2019 year the amount was $21,451.45), health benefits (90%), and a full tuition remission (up to 12 credit hours per semester).  Continuing support is contingent on progress through the degree requirements as stipulated by the Departmental Graduate Rules and Requirements.  Applicants requesting financial support should be capable and prepared to participate in these duties.  Please note:  the information above describes the typical support offered in recent years; please be advised that this website is not a legal document, and the financial support offered with admission may differ.

Masters students are encouraged to contact the Graduate Chair before applying.

Domestic applicants are encouraged to complete a FAFSA for the academic year corresponding to their first year of potential enrollment in graduate school (for example, if applying for Fall 2019, complete a 2019-2020 FAFSA), and to send that information to the CU Boulder Financial Aid Office.  Graduate students are frequently eligible for grant money.  Information on applying for FAFSA is here, including a short video overview.  Our university code is 001370.  This is best done concurrently with the admissions process.

Women and underrepresented minorities

The department strongly encourages applications from women and underrepresented minority students, as part of the University's committment to Inclusive Excellence.

Underrepresented students may apply to participate in the Colorado Advantage Program to preview our program each fall.  All expenses are paid for participants to visit the CU-Boulder campus to meet faculty and current graduate students, tour the building, and learn more about the graduate admissions process.

The graduate school can sometimes offer Diversity Fellowships upon admission for US citizens or permanent residents who are black/African-American, Latino/Hispanic, or American Indian, or who have overcome substantial hardship.

The Graduate School waives fees for current McNair Scholars: please contact gradadm@colorado.edu for more information before you complete your application.

Advice for applying

We are seeking applicants with

  • demonstrated mathematical ability and preparation,
    • a committment to our teaching mission, including teamwork in coordinated courses,
    • a committment to a positive and supportive community.

    Examples of evidence supporting these qualities include, but are not limited to,

    • previous research experience, such as an REU or senior thesis
    • significant course preparation in advanced mathematics, including a rigorous approach to analysis and algebra
    • strong GRE and GPA
    • previous teaching and leadership experience
    • recommendation letters

    In your personal statement, we would appreciate a discussion of:

    • Your career aspirations and mathematical interests.
    • The ways in which CU Boulder is an especially good fit for your graduate work.
    • Your particular research interests and how they align with the research of our department.
    • Your commitment to teaching.
    • Your views on climate, diversity, leadership and teamwork.

    Get help

    For questions about the admissions process, contact the Graduate Assistant.

    For questions about the graduate program, contact the Graduate Chair.