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Changes to Qualifying Exam System

(Effective January 2022)

The student must pass 2 written examinations chosen as described below. The exams are based on material that is covered in the courses listed and on material from undergraduate prerequisites. Credit for passing a similar examination at another university cannot be transferred.

The Qualifying Examinations are written examinations offered twice a year during week long Qualifier Exam Sessions the week before classes start in August and January. Each examination is written and graded by a faculty member or a committee of faculty members chosen by the Graduate Committee.

The following four subject areas are called the Core 4 Areas:.

  • Complex Analysis (MA 530)
  • Real Analysis (MA 544)
  • Abstract Algebra (MA 553)
  • Linear Algebra (MA 554)

The student must pass two qualifying exams, one in Algebra and one in Analysis, among the Core 4 Areas.

Three possible combinations are allowed:

  • Real Analysis (MA 544) and Abstract Algebra (MA 553)
  • Real Analysis (MA 544) and Linear Algebra (MA 554)
  • Abstract Algebra (MA 553) and Complex Analysis (MA 530)

New incoming students are allowed a free attempt at the qualifying exams. It is strongly recommended that new students thinking about taking some of the qualifying exams review the qual topics (see Graduate Program handbook) and work through some of the old qual exams.

The Qualifier Deadline for students who enter the program with a master's degree is the January Qualifier Exam Session of their second year. The Qualifier Deadline for students without a master's degree is the January Qualifier Exam Session of their third year. Students who have not passed the four exams on or before the session of their Qualifier Deadline will have their privileges to continue in the Mathematics PhD program terminated.

Each Qualifier Exam can be attempted a maximum of three times and students may attempt as many Qualifier Exams as they wish at any Qualifier Session on or before their Qualifier Deadline.

If you feel you are adequately prepared for the exams, send your name and which exams you plan to take to Shannon Cassady (

Department of Mathematics, Purdue University, 150 N. University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2067

Phone: (765) 494-1901 - FAX: (765) 494-0548  Contact Us

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