Ph.D. in Mathematics


The Department of Mathematics and Statistics offers instruction and research experiences leading to a Ph.D. degree in Mathematics. Particular research strengths include phylogenetics and algebraic statistics, polytopes, control and inverse theory for PDEs, soliton theory and mathematical physics, and configurations of points and lines.

Since UAF's Mathematics Ph.D. program is small, it offers the opportunity to work especially closely with leading researchers in mathematics following individualized educational and research plans. Students may be accepted into the Ph.D. program following completion of either a Bachelors or Masters program in Mathematics or a related field; those who have not completed work comparable to a Masters in Mathematics will earn an MS in their first two years of the program. The program is designed for flexibility, but Ph.D. research areas are limited to those of the faculty advising Ph.D. students.

Currently, six faculty members advise Ph.D. studies. For more information on these faculty and their research interests, see 'Faculty advising Ph.D.s'. If you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. at UAF, we strongly suggest you investigate these areas before you apply, to be sure that available research opportunities match your interests.

Program structure

The Ph.D. program includes challenging coursework through the M.S. level, followed by individualized study leading to the solution of research problems. A typical route through the program involves: passing written M.S. examinations, learning background material for a research area through an M.S. project, completing a Ph.D. examination as designed by the student's graduate advisory committee, presenting a thesis proposal, and performing original research. The written dissertation must be high quality original work, worthy of publication in a professional journal. After the M.S., Ph.D. students should expect their studies to be primarily research-focused, under close supervision of their advisor. See 'Program requirements and timelines' for more information on typical progressions through the program.


Students in good standing may be funded as Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants (TAs and RAs). Duties of a TA vary from leading recitation sections for calculus and providing tutoring, to teaching undergraduate courses. We take seriously the development of TAs into solid mathematics instructors, as part of their preparation for an academic career.

A Research Assistantship is usually funded through a grant to an individual faculty member, and is generally available only to more advanced students. If a student is awarded an RAship, then it is expected that the student's own research will be in the area funded by the grant.

Applications are evaluated when complete. To be competitive for financial support, applications should be complete at least six months before intended admission. Firm application deadlines are June 1 for fall admission and October 15 for spring (March 1 and Sept 1 for international applicants). Applicants who are not native English speakers are eligible for TAships, but language skills are taken into account in funding decisions.

While summer support is not provided through TAships and most RAships, students with some teaching background can teach summer session courses to supplement their income.


Students wishing to be admitted to UAF's Ph.D. program in mathematics must apply to the UAF graduate school, through UAonline. Materials needed for a complete application are: official transcripts, resume or CV, a statement of academic goals, and at least three letters of recommendation. Recommendation letters should address educational background, mathematical ability, and research and teaching potential. Applications are evaluated as received, but to be competitive for financial support should be complete at least six months before intended admission. Firm deadlines are June 1 for fall admission and October 15 for spring (March 1 and Sept 1 for international applicants).

While submission of GRE scores is generally not required, we recommend that the GRE Mathematics subject test score be submitted by Ph.D. applicants.

International applicants from countries whose primary language is not English must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores, under UAF policies. (Requests for exceptions to this must be submitted to the Office of Admissions, and not to the department.) International applicants with GPA equivalents of 3 or less on a 4 point scale must also submit GRE general test scores. For more detailed requirements for international applicants please see the UAF catalog.

To start an application, visit UAOnline and follow directions for a "New Student" applying for admission. You will be asked to create a login ID and a six number PIN. You can then begin electronic submission of application materials. Letters of recommendation should be sent from the recommenders to the admissions office, either by e-mail or standard mail.

Ph.D. applicants who are denied admission may instead be offered admission and funding for the MS program. While such an offer carries no promise of continuing beyond the MS, a student who is successful in the M.S. program may later re-apply to continue on for the Ph.D.


UAF, the premier research institution in Alaska, is located in Fairbanks, in the interior of the state.

Fairbanks and the surrounding area forms a community of about 100,000 people, easily accessible by major airlines, or by highway. Alaska offers unparalleled opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities year round, including cross-country skiing, hiking and camping, wilderness exploration, hunting and fishing, and appreciation of an exceptionally beautiful natural environment.

For more information on living in Fairbanks, from a graduate student's perspective, read the article Life in Fairbanks, by Ben Abbott.