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 Applied & Interdisciplinary Mathematics Master's Degree
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 Applied & Interdisciplinary Mathematics Ph.D.
 Mathematics Ph.D.
 Recent Ph.D. Recipients
 Student Handbook  AIM & Math
 Students On the Job Market  AIM & Math
 Student Spotlight  AIM & Math
 Thesis Defense Schedule
Thesis Proposal, Committee, & Preliminary Examination
AIM students are encouraged to explore potential advisors in both math and the partner discipline. The math advisor should be chosen first, and the partner discipline advisor should be chosen in consultation with the math advisor. Exceptions may be allowed in special cases with the approval of the AIM Director in consultation with the AIM Graduate Admissions & Fellowships Committee.
During the second or third year of study, students will work with their two coadvisors to prepare a thesis proposal. When the proposal is written and a committee is assembled, each student will then take a Preliminary examination (based on the proposal and related coursework) administered by the committee. Upon successful completion of the Preliminary examination and a sufficient fraction of the required coursework for the AIM Ph.D., the Director will recommend that the student advance to candidacy.
How to Declare your CoAdvisors
The AIM Thesis Proposal
Preparing for interdisciplinary research requires the mastery of background information from two distinct fields of study, as well as careful planning. The AIM Thesis Proposal is a document that crystallizes the process of preparing for an extended research project. Unlike the Mathematics Ph.D. degree, the AIM Ph.D. degree emphasizes the Thesis Proposal because writing highquality research proposals is an important skill to develop for work in many research careers.
The Thesis Proposal should be prepared by the student in collaboration with both coadvisors. The proposal should contain
 a careful review of the relevant literature,
 a well thoughtout plan for the dissertation research, and
 any Prelim results already obtained.
The AIM Thesis Proposal should also explain how the dissertation work is expected to make an original contribution, using novel mathematical ideas, to the partner discipline field. The length of the written document is not specified, but rather is determined by the two coadvisors accounting for the required contents. An average AIM Thesis Proposal is approximately 20 pages in length.
Assembling a Dissertation Committee
As the AIM Thesis Proposal nears completion, the student should assemble a dissertation committee, consisting of individuals who will follow the dissertation work to its completion, and in particular who will administer the Preliminary examination and defense of the dissertation. The dissertation committee is made up of at least four people, including:
 the mathematics coadvisor,
 the partner discipline coadvisor,
 a second faculty member from the Department of Mathematics, and
 one more faculty member representing any department (including mathematics).
Once the committee members have expressed their agreement to serve on the dissertation committee, the student should provide each with a copy of the AIM Thesis Proposal.
The Preliminary Examination
When the committee has had sufficient time to review the AIM Thesis Proposal, the student should next work with the committee and Department of Mathematics staff to schedule a time and location for the 2hour Preliminary examination. The Preliminary examination takes the form of a presentation by the student to the dissertation committee based on the AIM Thesis Proposal. The student should plan for a 50minute presentation, although it may take longer if the committee members wish to ask questions during the talk. After the presentation is finished, the committee may ask other questions, possibly related to other relevant coursework or preparation that is not covered in the proposal document or presentation. Generally speaking, students should expect questions broadly related to the partner discipline and associated mathematics. The result of the examination will be decided by the committee in attendance at the conclusion.
How to Schedule your Prelim Exam
Advancing to Candidacy
The Rackham Graduate School requires that all Ph.D. students achieve candidacy by the beginning of the fall semester of the fourth year of study. Candidacy refers to the final stage of the Ph.D., in which the student is focused on original research as planned in the AIM Thesis Proposal and the careful writing of the doctoral dissertation. A student must do the following:
• take the AIM Student Seminar course (Math 501) for the first three semesters
• pass two AIM QR Examinations within the first 13 months of graduate study
• write an AIM Thesis Proposal and pass the Preliminary examination
• complete the required coursework (The requirement of completing coursework is crucial to allow graduation by the end of the fifth year of study.)
Term Wish to Achieve Candidacy  Prelim Window 
Winter 2025  Thursday, August 29, 2024 through Friday, January 10, 2025 
Fall 2025  Saturday, January 11, 2025 through Thursday, May 8, 2025; OR Monday August 25, 2025 through Wednesday, August 27, 2025 
Winter 2026  Thursday, August 28, 2025 through Friday, January 9, 2026 
Once completed, then he or she will be eligible to advance to candidacy. The Rackham Graduate School mandates that a student in the candidacy stage of the Ph.D. degree must enroll each fall and winter term for 8 credits of Math 995 under the supervision of their advisor. Students may elect to register for additional courses not totaling more than 4 credits per term. Any coursework beyond that may result in tuition charges for which the student would be responsible to pay.