Joint Math/CS PhD
In Winter 2018, the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Computer Science launched a joint program through which participating students can earn the degree
“Ph. D. in Mathematics and Computer Science.”
The basic structure is that students must gain admission to both PhD programs and satisfy both sets of course requirements. They write a single dissertation that satisfies both programs.
While the program is open to all eligible students, we expect that at least initially it will be most popular among students working in CS Theory, Discrete Mathematics, and Mathematical Logic.
Each student in this program will have a primary program (either Mathematics or Computer Science). Throughout the course of studies, the primary program will provide administrative support to the student, including in matters regarding financial support.
To be admitted to the joint program, students will have to be admitted by both departments as follows.
Application before entering the PhD program
The applicant must apply to the primary program indicating in the application that he/she wishes to be considered for the joint program. If admitted to the primary program, the application will be automatically forwarded to the Graduate Admissions Committee of the secondary program. To be assisted in making the decision, the Graduate Admissions Committee of the secondary program may request from the applicant additional materials in accordance with customs and rules of its department.
Application after entering the PhD program
Students enrolled in either the Mathematics or the Computer Science PhD program may apply to the joint program during the first four years in their current program. If admitted to the joint program, their current program will be primary.
Such an applicant must submit the following material to the Director of Graduate Studies/Graduate Committee Chair of the intended secondary program, while notifying the Director of Graduate Studies/Graduate Committee Chair of the primary program:
- current CV
- statement of purpose, explaining why the joint program is the right program for the applicant
- statement of coursework and research done so far
- statement of a schedule how the applicant proposes to satisfy the secondary program’s requirements
- advisor’s recommendation, including endorsement of the applicant’s statements (items 2, 3, 4 above)
- if the application occurs during the first year of the primary program, the applicant needs to provide two additional letters of recommendation and their undergraduate transcript. It is permitted to reuse material from the application to the primary program.
Students enrolling in the joint program will need to satisfy the course requirements of both departments. They will have to satisfy the course requirements of their primary program on the schedule of that program, and satisfy the course requirements of their secondary program by the end of their fifth year in the primary program.
According to current rules, two of the CS electives can be courses offered by the Mathematics department. These courses are permitted to overlap with the Mathematics course requirements.
Students in the joint program shall fulfill the examination requirements of the primary program; the current list of requirements can be found at
For students participating in the joint program, the deadlines for these exams can be relaxed by petitioning the Director of Graduate Studies/Graduate Committee Chair of the primary program.
Monitoring student progress
Students’ annual progress reports go to both departments’ Director of Graduate Studies/Graduate Committee Chair in accordance with each department’s format.
PhD dissertation and defense
Subject of the dissertation
The dissertation is expected to be in an area relevant to both fields.
PhD thesis defense
The scheduling of the PhD Thesis defense follows the Mathematics Department’s custom as follows.
- A nearly final draft of the thesis is made accessible to faculty at least two weeks prior to the defense, either in hard copy in the departmental office or, preferably, by posting on the internet.
- The dissertation is reviewed in writing by two readers, one of whom is typically the thesis advisor.
- The reports by the first and the second readers are circulated among faculty of both departments, along with the Thesis abstract and the following information: the location (physical or virtual) where the thesis can be viewed, the planned time and location of the defense, and the names and affiliations of the thesis committee members.
- There is a two-week period for comments by faculty before the admission of the thesis for defense.
The thesis defense itself consist of a 50-minute public presentation of the main results and methods of the dissertation, followed by a public question-answer period, followed by a closed-session question-answer period.
The program proceeds under joint Math-CS oversight, exercised by the Director of Graduate Studies/Graduate Committee Chair of each department.
The following rules apply to all examination committees (Qualifying/Topic Exam, Master’s, Candidacy, and PhD). The committee will consist of at least three members, including the student’s advisor(s). It will include at least one member of each department, and will either be chaired by a joint appointee of the two departments or co-chaired by a member of each department. Each department shall publicize these exams in accordance with its established customs.