Push the Limits of Knowledge to Find Solutions

We live in a world where math plays an increasingly important role in solving today's most pressing issues. The use of advanced algorithms and computational tools has expanded our understanding of math's vast applications and has also revealed how much we still need to discover.

The PhD in Mathematics at Clarkson University pushes forward innovative solutions by allowing you to acquire specialized knowledge, expand an applied perspective and conduct your own research. Tackle some of the most complex problems with the confidence and know-how of an expert.

Why Earn a PhD in Mathematics From Clarkson University?

Develop specialized knowledge using the resources of a technology-rich university. Through our interdisciplinary approach, collaborate across campus with different scholars and on different issues with an applied mathematical perspective. In addition to increasing your advanced fundamental knowledge of the field, complete your own research meant to bring forward innovative solutions.

We are also a small department with big opportunities. What does that mean? Our faculty are nationally recognized math researchers, conducting studies with academic, industry and government partners. They further serve as dedicated mentors, who guide you toward your individual goals. The Department's environment is collegial and collaborative: we see you as a valuable member of our team and include you to solve research problems together.

Along with research, PhD students gain valuable teaching experience by working with undergrads as teaching assistants or in other capacities.


The PhD in Mathematics consists of 90 credit hours of coursework, seminars and project work. The first two to three years are devoted to coursework, and the remainder of your time centers around research.

The coursework is distributed as follows:

  • A minimum of 15 credit hours in a major area.
  • A minimum of nine credit hours in a minor area.
  • A minimum of six credit hours of work outside the department.

Students also take a General Comprehensive Exam at the end of the second semester. The topics cover Calculus, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Real Analysis, Probability and Statistics. By the fourth semester, you must pass two additional written Comprehensive Examinations from the following:

  • Category I (Pure Math): Real Analysis, Complex Analysis, Sets and Topology and Numerical Analysis.
  • Category II: Matrix Theory and Computations, Partial Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems, Ordinary Differential Equations, Probability and Measure Theory or Statistics.

To complete the degree, prepare to defend a dissertation based on your research.

Review all requirements below. 

The PhD in Mathematics consists of 90 credit hours above a bachelor's degree. These credits are obtained through coursework, seminars and project work to fulfill PhD requirements. The program consists of extensive coursework completed during the first two to three years, followed by the development of an original research dissertation under the direction of one of our faculty members.

PhD candidates take at least 39 credit hours of approved coursework (30 of which may be taken for the MS degree). As required by University regulations, the coursework must contain a minimum of 15 hours in his/her major area, a minimum of nine hours in a minor area and a minimum of six hours of work outside the Department. Cross-registered graduate-level courses from other institutions are acceptable. The major area and minor area must be identified by the candidate's advisor and approved by the graduate committee.

During the program:

  • PhD students must maintain an overall grade point average of at least 3.00 for their coursework.
  • By the end of the second semester (not including summer), every PhD student must pass a General Comprehensive Exam. The purpose of this exam is to determine whether or not a student possesses the fundamental knowledge and skills to pursue PhD-level research and course content. The topics cover Calculus, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Real Analysis, Probability and Statistics. The exam is offered in August, January and May. By the fourth semester (summer not included), every PhD student must pass two additional written Comprehensive Examinations. One exam must be from Category I and the other from Category II below. The choices must be approved by the student's advisor and the graduate committee. In the event that a student has not satisfied these conditions within the time limit allowed, the student must petition the graduate committee in order to continue studies.
    • Category I (Pure Math): Real Analysis, Complex Analysis, Sets and Topology and Numerical Analysis.
    • Category II: Matrix Theory and Computations, Partial Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems, Ordinary Differential Equations, Probability and Measure Theory or Statistics.
  • PhD students acquire at least six hours of seminar credit. A seminar is a course in which the student is expected to make presentations to the class. This is in addition to the minimum of 39 credit hours of approved coursework. One hour of seminar credit may be earned by either attending a regularly scheduled seminar and making one presentation or attending all colloquia for one semester and giving one presentation at a Department of Mathematics Seminar.
  • PhD students make a formal presentation of a proposed thesis topic to their Thesis Committee within one year of passing their Comprehensive Exam. The topic must be acceptable to the committee.
  • Candidates must write and defend (to their Thesis Committee) a dissertation that embodies the results of their original research. In association with this work, the student must obtain at least 21, but no more than 45, hours of thesis credit. The Thesis Committee consists of at least five Clarkson faculty members, including at least one from another department.
  • Candidates complete a total of 90 hours of graduate credit. The Thesis Committee then certifies the satisfaction of these requirements.
  • The typical duration of the PhD program is five to six years.

Our faculty make significant contributions to the world of mathematics and participate in interdisciplinary research with other academics. As a student, you benefit from their mentorship and work closely with them in a collaborative and encouraging environment. Learn more about their experience and areas of specialization.

Meet Our Faculty

The major areas of emphasis in our Department include:

  • Applied math education
  • Applied statistics
  • Applied optimization
  • Biomathematics
  • Control theory
  • Computational mathematics
  • Data-driven science
  • Dynamical and complex systems
  • Image processing

As a student, you have access to Clarkson University centers like the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, the Institute for STEM Education and the Center for Complex Systems Science, where many of our faculty direct and oversee research projects. 

A complete application consists of the following:

  • Online Application Form.
  • Curriculum Vitae.
  • Statement of purpose.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Official transcripts.
  • GRE test scores are optional for those with MS and BS degrees in mathematical sciences (mathematics, applied mathematics, and statistics); for others it is required, but waivers will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • For international applicants, an English proficiency test is required.
    • Minimum test score requirements: TOEFL (80) and TOEFL Essentials (8.5), IELTS (6.5), PTE (56) or Duolingo English Test (115).
    • The English language-testing requirement is not waived based on language of instruction, nor do we accept university certificates. English testing is waived if an applicant has a degree from a country where English is the Native Language. Click here to see the list of these countries.

Prerequisites: Students must have a BS (or MS) or equivalent degree(s) in mathematics or a closely related field.

Criteria for Acceptance and Helpful Information

What Makes a Successful Candidate?

Typical successful applicants have an undergraduate or a master’s degree in mathematics, applied mathematics, statistics or a related quantitative discipline. While the balance of topics in any student’s background may vary, we expect that applicants have an excellent foundation in undergraduate mathematics, including experience with proof-based courses, coding in at least one programming language such as MATLAB, Python, Julia, R, etc. and fluency in written and spoken English. Prior research experience is not a requirement, but it definitely helps in making a strong case for the student to be accepted.

Dates and Deadlines

Your application can be accepted at any time, although new students are accepted only for the Fall and Spring semesters. Please complete the application at least two months and up to 10 months in advance of the start of the semester. Once an application file is submitted, the faculty review takes at least one month to complete.

Teaching and Research Assistantship Positions

If you are additionally applying for a TA or RA position, please review all additional application deadlines in the Financial Assistance section below.

Reviews for admission and for a TA or RA position are separate, with the TA/RA process significantly more competitive due to a very limited number of available spots. Past successful applicants to TA/RA positions have had significant undergraduate research experience (e.g., participating in semester-long or year-long research projects or potentially co-authoring a publication), and some experience in teaching, whether as a tutor for college-level courses or an undergraduate teaching assistant. In most such cases, recommendation letters and statements of purpose give the committee a good understanding of the content of research/teaching experience and the degree to which students were involved.

Research Fit/Topics

It is critical that the evaluation committee understands how specifically a student may fit into the research program at Clarkson; statements that say “I will do whatever it takes/work on whatever topic” are typically not helpful — instead, we encourage applicants to describe a smaller set of research topics for which they believe they are well prepared and which may keep their interest for the next five years.

No Minimum GPA/GRE Score Required

There are no GPA, GRE or other scales/cutoffs that we use to accept/disqualify applicants; rather, the committee evaluates holistically the set of skills and experiences applicants bring with them.

Most current graduate students are supported by Teaching Assistantships or Research Assistantships. A full appointment covers 30 credit hours of tuition and provides a stipend that covers estimated living expenses.

Teaching Assistantships (TA)

Most PhD students are supported by a TA position. A full appointment requires the student to teach up to 20 hours/week (on average) during the Fall and Spring semesters. In return, a TA position covers the full tuition and pays a living stipend to the student that covers the estimated expenses of living in Potsdam for the full academic year (including during summer). Regularly, PhD students are prioritized for TA positions.

  • To apply for a TA position, simply indicate your interest on the application form. Prior teaching experience is not necessary, but it is helpful. The number of TA positions available each year varies. Offers are issued during the Spring semester (for Fall admittance) after a competitive review of interested applicants by the admissions committee.
  • All TA positions start in the Fall semester, and the contract runs for one year at a time. If you are looking to start in the Spring semester, you should expect to have external funds to cover the tuition and living expenses for your first semester here (Spring); you would then be competitively evaluated for any available TA positions open in the subsequent Fall.
  • TAs can expect to be reappointed in subsequent years for up to five years total, under the condition that they maintain good academic progress (maintain a cumulative GPA above B/3.00 and complete examinations according to deadlines) and perform their teaching duties well.
  • The tuition and stipend provided by the full-year TA contract can be used by international students to certify the level of income needed to apply for the F1 visa. The university does not cover the costs of applying for a visa or relocating to Potsdam, NY.
  • All new TAs must complete a TA training during their first summer (“TA boot camp”) that involves a virtual/remote portion and an in-person portion during early August. During the TA boot camp, TAs get introduced to different teaching methods, teaching activities and typical U.S. university classroom dynamics. The TA boot camp is organized by the Institute for STEM Education, which additionally tracks the progress and development of TAs. We hope that through this continual teacher training, our PhD graduates have an edge in their first job search and can quickly translate this experience to all future academic positions.

Research Assistantships (RA)

Faculty members occasionally obtain a research grant that funds an RA position. An RA graduate student works closely with the faculty member to achieve research goals. In many cases, this research can form a significant part of the student’s PhD project; in other cases, it may be unrelated to the student’s research.

The RA position carries a similar hourly commitment to the TA position, with the difference that the commitment extends for the full duration of support (not simply Fall/Spring semesters) and with continued funding limited by performance, the need of the funded project and the duration of the grant. RA positions are often filled by second and more senior graduate students. When there are unfilled RA positions open to first-year students, the Department advertises them below.

The annual Mathematics Colloquium is Clarkson University's flagship series of talks in mathematics. Once a week during the Spring semester, we invite visiting speakers, faculty members and graduate students to present their most current research.

Mathematics Colloquium

The program is held on our main campus in Potsdam, New York. Many of our full-time, research-based master's and PhD programs are housed here, as well. Students have access to research facilities, onsite laboratories and other resources.

Potsdam Campus

Career Possibilities

Clarkson's PhD in Mathematics provides the rigorous training and research-heavy experience required to enter the world of academia. With your degree, apply to professorships and positions in prestigious research centers.

Your skills are also high in demand in today's job market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of available positions for mathematicians and statisticians is expected to grow 31 percent by 2031. Roles for mathematicians can be found in almost every industry that deals with science, engineering, data or technology.

Clarkson graduates may find themselves in the following roles:

  • Actuary
  • Algorithmic engineer
  • Data scientist
  • Entrepreneur
  • Investment banking analyst
  • Management consultant
  • Operations research analyst
  • Process engineer
  • Project manager
  • Quality assurance manager
  • Software developer
  • Statistician

| STEM OPT Eligible

Contact Us

Department of Graduate Admissions
Email: graduate@clarkson.edu
Phone: 518-631-9831

Interested in learning more about the PhD in Mathematics? Contact the Office of Graduate Admissions today with your questions.

Find out more about the Department of Mathematics.

100% Graduate Placement Rate - Program Specific

Super Power

When you need a mega-dose of computing power to solve complex problems, turn to ACRES — our high-performance computing cluster. Short for Accelerating Computational Research for Engineering and Science, ACRES delivers 160 teraflops of solving speed.

Learn More About ACRES

Deepen Your Expertise

Gain specialized knowledge, conduct original research and qualify for a wide range of academic and industry opportunities with a PhD in Mathematics from Clarkson.