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Ph.D. Program Information for Applicants


Satisfactory progress for Ph.D. students in the Division of Applied Mathematics require that:


  • the student must complete all first year basic courses with satisfactory grades (all B or above, and with no more B’s than A’s).

  • the student must successfully locate an advisor who has explicitly agreed to supervise the student’s thesis work during the second year of study.

  • the student must successfully pass both the major and minor preliminary exams by the end of their third year of study.

  • the student must complete their dissertation within 6 years.


The Division’s large collection of courses enables the student to get a deep and state-of-the-art understanding of their field of specialization, while at the same time acquiring an excellent background in other relevant areas of applied mathematics. On arrival, the student is assigned a faculty advisor, who will help the student choose the appropriate courses. The first year’s program aims to fill whatever gaps there are in the student’s background, as well as to provide the foundations in analysis and in other basic subjects which are necessary preparation for the more specialized courses in the following years. There is often enough time in the first year for some course work in the area of intended specialization, if that is known. The intellectual demands on applied mathematicians in university research as well as in industrial research and development are continually changing. It is essential that a program be chosen with both the `long view’ as well as the more immediate demands of impending research in mind.


Much of the course work is oriented towards the requirements of the preliminary examination. This examination is oral (possibly augmented by a small written part) and is commonly taken at about the fifth semester in residence here, although it can be taken earlier if the student has had prior preparation. The examination covers one major and two minor subjects. The major subject is usually close to the field in which the student will be doing his or her doctoral research. The student will be expected to show breadth of knowledge as well as the depth of understanding. The subjects will be chosen with the advice and consent of the faculty advisor, and must be approved by the departmental committee on graduate affairs. The subjects for the examination are normally selected from standard groups which have been found to give a good preparation for careers in the different areas, although approved variations are allowed. The systems are flexible, provided that the basic intellectual goals are met.


After the preliminary examination has been passed, the student normally spends most of his or her time on thesis research. The student is, however, urged to continue to do some course work in order to assure the best possible background as well as the best preparation for thesis research.


Every candidate for the Ph.D. degree is required to engage in at least one year's teaching as a teaching assistant. This refers to the actual performance of actual teaching duties, not to the forms of financial aid. The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning offers a broad range of programs, lectures, and services for the Brown teaching community. Of particular interest to graduate TAs are: the Teaching Certificate Programs, Individual Consultation Services (including teaching, presentation, course, syllabus and grant consultations), the Teaching Seminar Lectures & Forums, and a wide variety of on-line handbooks and workshops. For more information, please visit the Sheridan Center’s website.


After completing the thesis and having it approved by two readers appointed by the faculty advisor, the student presents the research results publicly and has a final oral defense of the thesis. Essential information which outlines the guidelines and requirements for the Doctoral Dissertation is provided on the Graduate School webpages, DISSERTATION GUIDELINES


Graduates have been very successful in finding jobs in the most prestigious universities and industrial or governmental laboratories in the United States and around the world.



Our Master's program is open only to Brown undergraduate students, who wish to pursue a fifth-year Master's program; in particular, we do not accept applications from outside of Brown for our terminal Master's program. Nevertheless, the instructional and research offerings of the Division afford rich possibilities for master's degree programs for those who are preparing for careers in industry or government or who will seek teaching jobs that do not require the Ph.D., and who wish to improve their background in any of the various areas of applied mathematics. The following requirements are to be met in order to receive the Master's of Science Degree in the Division of Applied Mathematics:


  • A total of 8 courses must be satisfactorily completed. At least 6 of them must be Applied Mathematics courses.

  • At least 6 of the 8 courses must be taken at the 2000 level.

  • A maximum of 2 C's are allowed among the 8 courses.

  • Research courses are reading courses (among them APMA 2910, 2920, and 2990) are not acceptable for fulfillment of requirements. However, seminar courses (APMA 2810 and 2820), which meet regularly and have regular homework assignments and exams are acceptable.

  • Any course taken for the Sc.M. degree should have a grade assigned (i.e. - it cannot be taken Sat/NC).

  • With permission from the Graduate Program Chair, one course (with grade) can be transferred for credit from another University.



Deadline for applications is January 7, 2014.

On-line application is preferred.  Please visit the Graduate School website for information regarding the application process: 


For answers to specific questions, we invite prospective students to write to us at dam@dam.brown.edu or: 

Chair, Graduate Committee
Division of Applied Mathematics
Brown University
P.O. Box F
Providence, RI 02912

Prospective applicants who are interested in visiting the campus and meeting with a faculty member to discuss the graduate and research programs should contact Professor Kavita Ramanan, Chair of the Graduate Committee or Jean Radican, Senior Graduate Program Coordinator at 401.863.2463.


Required Exams


The GRE (Graduate Records Examination) General Test is required, unless it is actually impossible for the test to be taken. Most applicants take a GRE subject test in some area of Mathematics, Science, or Engineering. While this test is not required, it is recommended. Foreign students are required to have a grade of at least 577 on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) examination for admission and higher scores are expected for financial aid.


Financial Aid

The Division of Applied Mathematics offers several forms of financial aid to cover the tuition and living expenses of qualified graduate students. These include fellowships, teaching and research assistantships, and special awards associated with federal work study programs for students working on research projects.

Most first-year students are supported by fellowships. Summer support can usually be arranged for students who are working on research projects. Applications for fellowships must be at the graduate school by January 7, 2014. 


Graduate students in good standing and making good progress in their work are normally supported during their full period of study, if the time required is within the norm, or otherwise under special circumstances. Usually four years are required for the completion of the work for a Ph.D. for students without prior graduate training. The financial awards are competitive with those of other institutions, and the cost of living in Providence is lower than that in the larger metropolitan areas. Students do not normally participate in teaching or research during their first year, so that they can concentrate on their studies. Typically, students will participate in some teaching activity later in their stay.




There are rooms in Miller Hall, and numerous apartments are available in the vicinity of the University on the East Side of Providence.


Providence and Environs


Brown University is situated on College Hill on the East Side of Providence. This area has a deep historical heritage and has preserved many fine buildings which date from the late 1700s or early 1800s, as well as some from an earlier time. Some of these buildings are part of the Brown University campus. There are numerous cultural activities at Brown and at the Rhode Island School of Design, a well-known school of art and design, as well as at theaters in Providence. Part of the interest of the area is its great ethnic diversity. Providence is less than an hour's drive from Newport, a popular tourist destination offering historical attractions, recreation and entertainment. Boston is also nearby and offers a wealth of cultural and educational attractions. The State of Rhode Island boasts many fine beaches and many other recreational facilities.