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Course Study

All doctoral students are required to take three required compulsory courses and eight elective professionally-related courses based on their individual background and research interest.


Master students are required to take three compulsory courses and six elective professionally- related courses based on their individual background and research interest.


SMS provides all the graduate students with about 50 courses every semester, which meet various demands for all the disciplines and levels. These courses focus on training professional skills and research ability to strengthen their mathematical background and motivate potential capacity. Appendix I outlines all the courses for the graduate students.


All doctoral students are required to attend academic lectures at least six times every semester. Other students working for Master degree are requires to attend at least four times every semester.


SMS offers about 50 learning seminars every semester in which students discuss their own research problems, share reading materials with group members, or present research progress in front of their peers. This regular scientific activity helps develop the ability to present, discuss and debate in a professional manner. Appendix II outlines all the learning seminars for the graduate students.


All graduate students must take part in teaching to get 2 credits. This can be easily fulfilled by serving as a teaching assistant (TA).


Qualifying Exams

The qualifying exams are written exams, held once a year. A typical exam lasts 3 hours. Areas covered areAnalysis, Algebra, Geometry and Topology, Differential Equation, Probability, Computational Methods, Statistic, Digital Signal Processing,Algorithm and Data Structure,Introduction to Theoretical Computer Science. Students majored in Pure Mathematics must take at least one exam onAnalysisorAlgebra; Students majored in Computational Mathematics can choose any subject from Analysis to Computational Methods. Students majored in Probability must take exam onProbability, and students majored in Statistics must take exam onProbabilityandStatistics.


Students in the doctoral degree program should pass the qualifying examination before the end of the sixth semester. A student must choose two subjects approved by her/his supervisor. With successful pass of these two exams, the student is eligible to work towards the Ph.D. degree and enters into the research stage. If failed, students may take qualifying exams repeatedly before the sixth semester. Those students who failed three times can apply for the program of Master of Science, or to drop off the program. With approval of the application and the successful completion of the requirement, the student can receive a degree of Master of Science at the end of the eighth semester. On the other hand, students in the MS program can also apply for the doctoral program if they pass the qualifying exams during period of Master program, and their course credits can be counted in the Ph.D. program.Elimination rate of the qualifying examination is from 1.5% to 4.7% during years 2014-2017.


Selecting and Approval of a Research Topic


Based on interest in the research fields, students discuss with their advisor on the selection of the topic for the Ph.D. dissertations after passing the qualifying exam. At the end of the sixth semester, the student should make an oral presentation to brief the research plan to his/her thesis committee. A written proposal needs to be submitted to the thesis committee before giving an oral presentation.


Dissertation and Defense


A Ph.D. student is required to give a pre-defense of the dissertation work to the defense committee, six months before the final defense. A student who fails the pre-defense may apply for an extension of study to complete the Ph.D. degree.


During their study, the doctoral candidates are required to publish at least onepaper in a SCI-indexed journal (or 1 paper in a SSCI journal, or 2 papers in EI journals). The published research paper is a part of dissertation. In light of lengthy waiting period, a paper being accepted by the time of graduation is deemed as publication. This requirement can be waived for students who have tried to challenge the difficulty problems and have made a substantial progress in research. In this case, the advisor should submit a petition to the academic degrees committee of SMS for approval.


A Ph.D. dissertation is unanimously reviewed by five experts including at least two experts outside Peking University in the same discipline, and is voted for the approval to give the defense. The defense is scheduled when all 5 reviews are positive. If 2 or more reviews are negative, the procedure is terminated. If only one negative review is received, the sixth review will be sent to an expert in the field. Depending on the outcome of the sixth review, a defense will be held if the outcome is positive, and will be terminated otherwise. The defense committee usually consists of 5 professors, with at least 2 from outside PKU. The supervisor cannot serve on the defense committee. A two-thirds-majority of the committee votes will determine whether the defense is successful or not. Appendix 3 outlines the topics of Ph.D. thesis in 2017.


Graduate students in the Master program also have to defense their thesis, in a similar procedure with a lighter standard. For example, the defense committee is consists of three faculty members.


Every year, over 60% of doctoral students can graduate successfully with certificate of graduation and certificate of degree during the normal learning duration. Some other students extend the learning period for better research work. In addition, several students graduate only with certificate of graduate, for they haven’t qualified research publications.