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Mathematical Sciences: PhD

Mathematical Sciences

Students earning a PhD in mathematical sciences can choose to study in several different areas. The department’s excellent ratio of graduate students to faculty permits close personal guidance for each student. Students are able to tailor their programs of study to match their interests in specific areas of mathematics and statistics as well as interdisciplinary research.


Students must choose a specialization.

All four specializations require a program of study with 45 credits beyond a master’s degree or 72 credits beyond a bachelor’s degree. Students applying to the PhD program without a master’s degree will usually be directed to MS programs in Mathematics, Industrial Mathematics or Statistics, unless they have a strong background and clear professional interests. Satisfactory performance in an MS program can lead to admission to the PhD program in Mathematical Sciences.

  • Pure and Applied Mathematics: This is a traditional doctoral program in mathematics, offering broad training in the foundations of modern mathematics together with specialized training in an area of mathematical research. The dissertation represents a significant contribution to mathematics research in the chosen area of specialization.
  • Statistics: This specialization offers broad training in theoretical and applied statistics for students seeking careers in data sciences, academia, industry, or government. The dissertation represents a significant contribution to statistical research.
  • Interdisciplinary Studies: This specialization gives students the opportunity to receive advanced training in mathematics and/or statistics in the context of another field of inquiry, such as biology, business, education, engineering, ecology, economics, or physics. Students in this specialization usually take about two thirds of their coursework in Mathematics and Statistics and the remaining third in the other discipline. The dissertation itself will generally entail the development of advanced mathematical or statistical methods to solve problems in another subject area.
  • College Teaching: This specialization is designed for students preparing for careers focused on teaching mathematics and statistics. Students in the College Teaching specialization receive broad training in pure and applied mathematics and statistics and complete six credits of College Teaching Internship under the guidance of their supervisory committee. The dissertation for this specialization is flexible and may include original research in mathematics, statistics or education as well as exposition of important mathematical and statistical theories and their historical relationships.
  • Climate Adaptation Science (Mathematical Science PhD): The Climate Adaptation Science specialization provides students with experiences in actionable science through internship and research experiences. Program includes interdisciplinary research to identify adaptive responses to changing climate extremes and two-part internships with agency, NGO, and industry partners. In a first internship, students contribute to projects and learn the workplace cultures and science needs of the host. The internship experiences inform interdisciplinary climate adaptation research by student teams. In a second internship, students share science results and tools with the host organization and help put that science into action.

Graduates are employed as research-track faculty or lecturers at universities and colleges as well as governmental labs, industrial research centers, and private industry. We have had 98% success at employing doctoral graduates, and US News ranked Statistician as one of the nation's Top Five Careers.

Admission Requirements

Students may enter the PhD program after completing an MS or directly from a bachelor’s in the case of well-qualified candidates. Applicants are not required to have undergraduate degrees in mathematics or statistics, but must have strong backgrounds in these areas as evidenced by their transcripts.

Application to the PhD program is through the USU School of Graduate Studies website.

Students must provide:

  • GRE general scores (subject exams not required). We look for Quantitative scores above 60% and Verbal scores above 40%, but the application process is competitive so higher scores may be neccessary be competitive with other applicants.
  • TOEFL or IELTS (unless you have earned a degree in an English-speaking country, e.g. US, UK or Canada). To qualify for a teaching assistantship in our department the total TOEFL iBT score must be 100 or above. IELTS must be at or above 6.5 for TA consideration.
  • Transcripts of all past coursework. Your GPA *must* be above 3.0 during the last two years, and *should* be above 3.5 in technical subjects.
  • Contact information for three references who can speak to your academic preparation, professional goals and work ethic.
  • Personal statements on our Departmental Application Form (request from the Graduate Program Coordinator,

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admission Deadlines

Most students are admitted in Fall semester. The target date for Fall semester applications is January 15; admission notice and offers of support are generally mailed in March. Students are asked to accept/decline offers of support on or about April 15.

Program Requirements

Doctoral comprehensive examinations in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics are set by a student's supervisory committee and are intended to test the student's depth of knowledge in areas related to their research specialization and career goals. The exams themselves may be comprised of individual exams set and graded by subsets of the supervisory committee, a single exam written and graded by the committee, oral examinations by the committee or a subset, or mixtures of these as the committee sees fit. Comprehensive exams must be taken in or before the third year of matriculation in the doctoral program.

Financial Assistance

A majority of students receive major financial assistance with their studies via teaching or research assistantships. All students that meet the qualifications may receive tuition awards and subsidized health insurance as well.

A variety of additional funding opportunities are available, including fellowships, scholarships, and travel support.

Ian Anderson, PhD, University of Arizona
Area: Differential geometry, global analysis
Office: ANSC 302
Phone: (435) 797-2822

David Brown, PhD, University of Colorado - Denver
Associate Professor, Associate Department Head
Area: Discrete mathematics, graph theory
Office: ANSC 109
Phone: (435) 797-3224

James Cangelosi, PhD, Louisiana State University
Area: Constructivism in mathematics education, psychometrics, behavior management
Office: ANSC 324
Phone: (435) 797-1415

Chris Corcoran, ScD, Harvard University
Professor, Department Head
Area: Epidemiology, biostatics, statistical genetics, categorical data, permutation methods
Office: ANSC 110
Phone: (435) 797-2810

Michael Cortez, PhD, Cornell University
Assistant Professor
Area: Community-level ecological and evolutionary dynamics
Office: ANSC 216
Phone: (435) 797-7695

Daniel Coster, PhD, University of California - Berkeley
Area: Optimal design, computational statistics
Office: ANSC 219
Phone: (435) 797-2815

Adele Cutler, PhD, University of California - Berkeley
Area: Statistical computing, statistics
Office: ANSC 308
Phone: (435) 797-2761

Richard Cutler, PhD, University of California - Berkeley
Area: Environmental and ecological statistics, experimental design
Office: ANSC 202
Phone: (435) 797-5363

Mark Fels, PhD, McGill University
Area: Differential geometry, differential equations
Office: ANSC 303
Phone: (435) 797-0774

Guifang Fu, PhD, Pennsylvania State University
Assistant Professor
Area: Biostatistics, statistical genetics, functional data analysis
Office: ANSC 312
Phone: 435-797-0749

Nathan Geer, PhD, University of Oregon
Associate Professor
Area: Low-dimensional topology, lie theory
Office: ANSC 316
Phone: (435) 797-0755

Joseph Koebbe, PhD, University of Wyoming
Associate Professor
Area: Applied mathematics, computational fluid dynamics
Office: ANSC 209
Phone: (435) 797-2825

Brynja Kohler, PhD, University of Utah
Associate Professor
Area: Mathematics education, mathematical biology
Office: ANSC 223
Phone: (435) 797-2826

Andreas Malmendier, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Assistant Professor
Area: Algebraic geometry, string theory, gauge theory
Office: ANSC 307
Phone: (435) 797-5518

Brendan McLellan, PhD, University of Toronto
Assistant Professor
Area: Contact Geometry, Heisenberg Calculus, Hypoelliptic Operators, Quantum Topology
Office: ANSC 216
Phone: (435) 797-4130

Zhaohu Nie, PhD, Stony Brook Univversity
Assistant Professor
Area: Differential geometry, Lie algebra, integrable systems
Office: ANSC 316
Phone: (435) 797-2812

Nghiem Nguyen, PhD, University of Illinois - Chicago
Associate Professor
Area: Partial differential equations, nonlinear analysis
Office: ANSC 201
Phone: (435) 797-2819

James Powell, PhD, University of Arizona
Area: Applied mathematics, mathematical biology, nonlinear evolution equations
Office: ANSC 214
Phone: (435) 797-1953

Kady Schneiter, PhD, Utah State University
Associate Professor
Area: Statistics, mathematics education
Office: ANSC 323
Phone: (435) 797-2820

John Stevens, PhD, Purdue University
Associate Professor, Assistant Department Head for Graduate Studies
Area: Bioinformatics, applied statistics, meta-analysis
Office: ANSC 224
Phone: (435) 797-2818

Yan Sun, PhD, University of Cincinatti
Assistant Professor
Area: Time series analysis, interval-valued data, climatalogical statistics
Office: ANSC 310
Phone: (435) 797-2861

Jurgen Symanzik, PhD, Iowa State University
Area: Dynamic statistical graphics, geographic information systems, virtual reality and statistics, web-based applications in statistics
Office: ANSC 313
Phone: (435) 797-0696

Zhi-Qiang Wang, PhD, Institute of Mathematics - Beijing
Area: Differential equations, variational and topological methods
Office: ANSC 205
Phone: (435) 797-3529

Dariusz Wilczynski, PhD, Indiana University
Associate Professor
Area: Geometric and algebraic topology
Office: ANSC 204
Phone: (435) 797-0747

Jia Zhao, PhD, University of South Carolina
Assistant Professor
Area: Numerical analysis, mathematical biology, scientific computing
Office: ANSC
Phone: (435) 797-0747

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

American Mathematical Society: AMS is the largest organization of research mathematicians. The society's programs and services for its members and the global mathematical community include professional programs, publications, meetings and conferences, support for young scholars programs, tools for researchers and authors, and a public awareness office that provides resources to members, students, teachers, the media, and the general public.

American Statistical Association: ASA is the largest organization of mathematicians in industry and academe. The ASA supports excellence in the development, application, and dissemination of statistical science through meetings, publications, membership services, education, accreditation, and advocacy. Its members serve in industry, government, and academia in more than 90 countries, advancing research and promoting sound statistical practice to inform public policy and improve human welfare.

Biometric Society: ENAR and WNAR (the eastern and western North American regions) is an association of statisticians working on problems in statistics with biological, agricultural, and medical applications. The society’s goal is to advance biological and life science through the development of quantitative theories and the application, development, and dissemination of effective mathematical and statistical techniques.

Institute of Mathematical Statistics: IMS is an organization mainly for research statisticians working in academe. The IMS is an international professional and scholarly society devoted to the development, dissemination, and application of statistics and probability. The institute currently has about 4,500 members in all parts of the world.

Interface Foundation: This is a society working on problems at the interface between statistics and computing sciences. Its members are computational scientists, statisticians, mathematicians, and individuals from related discipline areas interested in the interface between computing science and statistics. Interests include topics such as computational statistics, statistical software, exploratory data analysis, data mining, pattern recognition, scientific visualization, and related fields.

Mathematical Association of America: MAA is the largest professional society that focuses on mathematics accessible at the undergraduate level. Its members include university, college, and high school teachers; graduate and undergraduate students; pure and applied mathematicians; computer scientists; statisticians; and many others in academia, government, business, and industry. MAA is focused on teaching particularly at the high school and college levels.

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics: SIAM is the largest organization of applied and computational mathematicians working in industry, academe, and government. SIAM fosters the development of applied mathematical and computational methodologies needed in these various application areas. Through publications, research, and community, the mission of SIAM is to build cooperation between mathematics and the worlds of science and technology.

Journal Club: The purpose of the Journal Club is to introduce participants to mathematics and statistics education research by providing an opportunity to read, present, and discuss noteworthy papers in the field. The primary intended audiences are graduate students and faculty members interested in starting research on education topics, and needing familiarity with the education literature.


Mathematics and Statistics Department


College of Science

Academic Advising

John Stevens
Associate Professor, Assistant Department Head for Graduate Studies
Office: ANSC 224
Phone: (435) 797-2818

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