Do I need the GRE Mathematics Subject Exam in order to get into UCLA's PhD program in applied mathematics? The mathematics department requires the GRE subject exam. It is rare for a student to be admitted to our program without this score.
My major is in a field other than mathematics, but I have decided I want to persue applied mathematics graduate work. can I apply to your program? Students in our program need to have advanced undergraduate analysis and linear algebra in order to pass our basic qualifying exam. We expect that proficiency upon entering the program. Typically students from other disciplines do not have such training. We encourage students from other departments who are interested in our program to consider a masters degree in mathematics from another institution before applying to our PhD program. We have several successful PhD students in our program who have followed such a path.
Can I be admitted directly into your research group? Departmental policy is to admit students to the program as a whole. After the students have passed all the qualifying exams they typically choose a thesis advisor. Funding for students is typically decided at the department level rather than at the level of an individual research group. This policy also allows the student flexibility to work with different professors rather than being tied down to a particular research group. Because of this structure, admission to the department means that we expect a student is capable of successfully completing the program with a variety of different possible thesis advisors.
Having an externally funded graduate fellowship allows a student significant more flexibility with their program of study as compared to departmental support. We encourage all students in our program to apply for external fellowships. Sometimes having such a fellowship in hand can make the difference between admission to a program and non-admission - if that program prefers not to admit students without funding.
US Citizens and Permanent Residents can apply for the following fellowships, most of which have application deadlines in the fall and winter. These fellowships do not require any service of the fellowship holder after the conclusion of the fellowship or the degree program.
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship
DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship
A number of UCLA PhD students have these fellowships.
The SMART program is open to both undergraduates and graduate students. However there is a service requirement tied to that program. This program is especially helpful to people who are currently in a career at a DOD lab or expect to enter one upon completion of the degree.
Foreign Nationals should check with their own government regarding the availability of fellowships for study in the US. We have recently had students from Canada, China, Germany, France, and Vietnam study in our program on an external fellowship. Some of these awards were for visiting study of 6 months to one year. Others were for full time study in our PhD program.
If you are a US citizen or permanent resident, you might consider applying for the NSF postdoctoral fellowship in the mathematical sciences and/or the UC Presidents Fellowship. Please have your thesis advisor contact me about this option if you have an interest. Typically one needs several months to put together the application since it requires a sponsoring faculty member. I currently sponsor David Uminsky as an NSF postdoctoral fellow and UC Presidents Fellow at UCLA. Several of my past PhD students have obtained NSF postdoctoral fellowships.
Our department is very focused on test scores, most notably the GRE subject exam score and also the TOEFL. The GRE subject exam is a yardstick that we use to get an idea of the student's likelihood to pass our basic qualifying exam upon entrance to UCLA. The two exams are quite different but the students who do well on the GRE often do well on our basic. Not always but there is enough of a correlation that we find it very useful. Because many students TA in their first year, the TOEFL is critical to make sure that the student can speak English. We also look at the general GRE to get an idea about writing ability and basic math - if your general math GRE score is not at the very top then you probably do not belong in our program.
Another important part of the appliation is the Statement of Purpose (SOP). I beg and implore you to please NOT write about how much you liked numbers at the age of 5. Or six or seven. Believe it or not, everyone in our department was pretty fixated on numbers at a young age. You kind of have to be if you are going into a profession where you do math all day, all week long. So leave those details off the SOP and write about what you want to study IN GRADUATE SCHOOL. Most importantly we need to know which profs in the department you want to work with and WHY you want to work with them. I note that sometimes students send us an application to applied math and say they want to work with a famous pure mathematician in our dept. If the professor is not currently publishing in applied math then chances are you should be applying to our program in pure math. We would also be very happy to read a relatively short SOP that focuses on your undergraduate math courses, research projects and your career goals and goals for the PHD and graduate study. The SOP need not be long - some of us read over 100 applications every year and appreciate brevity.