Graduate Program

Overview of Orientation Activities for Incoming PhD Students

This page contains some information to help get you oriented for your arrival. You will be notified by email as more information is added.


Information about selecting your first semester courses.

The written qualifying exam is required of all Ph.D. students. Students are normally allowed two attempts, and most students make their first attempt at the beginning of their second year in the program. However, entering students who believe they may be prepared for the exam, may take the exam at the beginning of the semester they arrive. This attempt does not count towards the two attempts otherwise allowed.

Each entering student will be assigned a Faculty Mentor sometime during the summer, who will serve as your advisor until you select a research advisor (usually during your second or third year).

  • Activities during the last two weeks of August

Mathematics Department orientation and pre-enrollment lectures: Pre-enrollment Lectures

The activities will include:

  • Orientation information for the program,
  • Introductory mathematics lecture series by faculty, with problem sessions led by senior graduate students.
  • Expository lectures by advanced graduate students about their dissertation research
  • Food and welcoming events.

All entering math Ph.D. and M.S. (traditional option) students should plan to attend.

 All students should attend one of these two sessions. Further information will be sent to students by the graduate school.

All students who have appointments as a teaching assistant  for the first time should attend. Those entering students supported on fellowships are also urged to attend, as attendance of this orientation will be required when their support source becomes teaching assistant.

All entering students from abroad who have a Teaching Assistantship should attend.

New international students appointed as teaching assistants are required to take an English proficiency test soon after arrival at the university regardless of their TOEFL scores, and may be obligated to take one or more semesters of course work in English as a Second Language (ESL), depending on the outcome of  this proficiency test. Such competence is assessed by the Rutgers Graduate English Language Learners (Grad ELL) program.  The Grad ELL will be using a new proficiency test starting this summer; more information about the test will be posted at the Grad ELL site as it becomes available. Some of the posted test schedules conflict with our written qualifying exam schedules; if you would like to take the free trial of our written qualifying exams, our Graduate Secretary will help you to try to schedule your Grad ELL test in early September.

Reappointment as a TA in mathematics cannot be made until ESL has certified that the candidate possesses adequate competence in oral English (both speaking and understanding the spoken language). In some cases ESL will grant provisional certification conditioned on continuing work in their courses.

 A student with a passable, but not high level of competence in English will find that this may affect their performance on their courses and exams, on their performance on their TA duties, and on their professional growth in general! Thus non-native speakers of English are urged strongly to talk about mathematics in English with other students, and practice writing essays/summaries in English from the beginning of their graduate study! Constant practice in conversational English in and out of class,  and in writing expository mathematics in English will bring professional rewards to non-native English speakers in their graduate study and professional growth.

Further information will be sent to students by the graduate school.


The three 2-hour exams will be given in the afternoons of Tuesday through Thursday in the last week of August.