Graduate Admissions FAQ
Additional Information Regarding Admissions
for the MA and PhD Degrees
Department of Mathematics & Statistics
There is a great deal of information posted on the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ website regarding admissions policies and procedures. In particular, the Graduate School website has pages for:
- degree requirements
- admissions procedures and application materials (including online applications)
- answers to a number of frequently asked questions (in addition to the questions answered below)
If you have a question about admissions, there is a good chance that it is answered on one of those pages.
Occasionally we get questions that are not answered on those pages. Here are some of those questions and their answers:
- I have a GPA of x, GREs of y, and a TOEFL score of z. What chance do I have of being admitted? What chance do I have of receiving financial aid?
It is impossible for us to prescreen applications. The qualifications necessary for application are stated on the Graduate School website mentioned above. However, admissions decisions are made only after careful consideration of a complete application, including all transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and official reports of examination scores from the Educational Testing Service. Proof of English proficiency is required of all applicants by submitting official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The following minimums on the TOEFL IBT are as follows:
- Reading: 21
- Listening: 18
- Speaking: 23
- Writing: 22
You must attain each of these minimums separately. A deficit in one area cannot be made up by a surplus in another. Moreover, an applicant would have to do better than most of these minimums to be considered for a teaching assistantship. This requirement is waived only if you have received, or expect to receive, an undergraduate or graduate degree from a college or university in any of the following countries prior to enrollment in GRS: the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland.
- Do I have to take the GRE subject test in mathematics?
We have two tracks in our MA and PhD programs, a mathematics track and a statistics track. If you are interested in mathematics (including probability), then you must submit the results of the GRE subject test with your application. If you are interested in statistics you may submit the results of the GRE subject test with your application but are not required to do so. If you are interested in statistics and your undergraduate work has not been in mathematics, then you may want to submit other information to support your application to help us evaluate your level of mathematical preparation. The Admissions Committee will be looking for information that demonstrates that you are capable of completing our program successfully so any data that you can provide to help us with that task is important.
- May I substitute GMAT scores for GRE scores?
No. Applicants must take the GRE general test and the GRE subject test in mathematics. (See the answer to the question immediately above.)
- My native language is not English, but I will have received a degree from an institution where the instruction is in English. Do I need to submit the results of a TOEFL exam?
In most cases, yes. The TOEFL requirement is waived only if you have received, or expect to receive, an undergraduate or graduate degree from a college or university in any of the following countries prior to enrollment in the GRS: the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland.
- I missed the November date for the GRE subject test, and the next exam is scheduled for April. What can I do?
You should wait to apply until next year and take the test in April.
- Do I have to include official score reports for my GRE and/or TOEFL exams? Will photocopies suffice?
You may include photocopies of your examination results with your application, but we will not be able to accept you unless you provide official score reports from the Educational Testing Service.
- What’s the difference between the postbachelor’s MA/PhD program and the post-master’s PhD program?
The post-master’s program is only for students who have received a master’s degree in mathematics or statistics from a program that is equivalent to the program at Boston University. If the Admissions Committee feels that an applicant is qualified for admissions but has applied to the wrong degree program, we will communicate with the applicant and recommend an appropriate change in the application.
- Whether you are applying to our program in applied mathematics or our program in probability & statistics, on the application page at the Graduate School you should apply to the “M.A./PhD-Mathematics” Program. Then, indicate in the “Area of Specialization” field what your particular interests are e.g. Statistics, Geometry, Applied Mathematics, etc.
- Admissions to our PhD program for the Spring semester are only made under exceptional circumstances. In particular, there is no financial aid available for spring admissions. Thus, all PhD candidates are encouraged to apply for fall admission.
- Application deadlines are January 15th for Fall admission and September 30th for Spring admissions.