Graduate Student Resources
The Mathematics and Statistics Department at Boston University provides graduate students with an atmosphere rich in both professionalism and fun. In addition to weekly seminars, opportunities to work and get involved in numerous areas encourage growth both independently and collaboratively; inside and outside the classroom; in intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary ways. In fact, to get more involved and potentially more out of the seminars, graduate students are encouraged to suggest or request speakers themselves. Suggestions can be made to the seminar organizers, found at the link above, in person or via email!
To augment this experience, this site consolidates many of the resources frequently used by graduate students in Mathematics and Statistics.
Qualifying Exams and Milestones
Graduate students in Mathematics are required to take a preliminary exam and then qualifying exams, which vary for post-BA and post-MA students. Graduate students in Statistics are required to take qualifying exams, which also vary for post-BA and post-MA students. Examples of past preliminary and qualifying exams can be found at the following links, but relevant textbooks for all of the qualifying exams can also be checked out at the front office in the Mathematics and Statistics Department.
A Ph.D. program in either Mathematics or Statistics can involve quite a bit, but both tracks involve certain essentials that are important to keep track of. The department has put together the following two sets of “milestones” to help give a sense of the pace a typical student maintains in his or her chosen program.
Associations and Conferences
Every graduate student in Mathematics and Statistics is automatically enrolled as a member of AMS (American Mathematical Society) by the department when they enter Boston University. Other associations and organizations may be worth joining for the benefits they confer, and some require membership in order to participate in certain conferences. Almost all of them require membership dues, but for students these are significantly reduced. Here are just a few (abbreviations and student membership dues in parentheses):
- American Mathematical Society (AMS; free through BU)
- Mathematical Association of America (MAA; $35)
- Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM; free through BU)
- Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA)
- American Statistical Association (ASA; $15)
- Royal Statistical Society (RSS; ~$13)
- Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS; free)
- International Statistical Institute (ISI; ~$66)
- International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA; $25)
Conferences: Involvement in conferences can vary from student to student, but attendance does not necessarily require that you present. Even if you’re not currently ready to present, the deadlines for abstract submission can precede the actual date of the conference by months. Stay informed by visiting the conference’s website. Here are just a few:
Graduate Student Organization
This GSO organizes events and helps facilitate connections for graduate students at Boston University. Students can also apply for travel grants from the GSO if their department is consistently represented at GSO meetings.
Typesetting with LaTeX and Beamer
These are useful tools for creating documents (LaTeX) or presentations (Beamer) that contain non-trivial amounts of mathematical characters. While not exactly programming, typing in LaTeX (and Beamer) can seem like another language. To make the experience smoother, the most frequently used elements have been collected into a few dictionary-like documents (the same language is used in both LaTeX and Beamer).
References: The guides below offer introductions and tutorials of varying lengths for the use of LaTeX.
Another neat tool for looking up the command for a symbol is detexify.
Examples: Here are a few short sample documents to view or use as templates until you become more accustomed to LaTeX and Beamer.
BU Dissertation Style Files for LaTeX: The format and guidelines set forth by Boston University for the dissertation document are extensive. To make conforming to them simple (when using LaTeX to create your dissertation) use the following style file. An example is also provided to help get you started.
Deadlines Graduation year is filled with deadlines and deliverables that it would be very wise to be aware of well ahead of time. Note that the first deadline is usually for the Dissertation Prospectus around early October.
Software and Technology
Boston University offers a host of computing resources to fit a variety of needs. Most students in the Mathematics and Statistics department will use software at some point in their career here, so it’s important to be aware of what’s available and how to access it. Here is a handout describing the computing resources available in the department (and at BU) and some information about their use.
BU Servers: The department allots space for each student on servers within the department. This can be a useful alternative to relying on your personal machine for all of your work here at BU. Logging in remotely involves using the “ssh” command in the terminal if you’re on a Mac or Linux machine; or PuTTY (or a similar program) if you’re on a Windows machine. Tim Kohl has provided a nice walkthrough for PuTTY. Another useful program, for Windows users who are transferring files between machines, is WinSCP.
Software: Some software packages are freely available for download on the web, similar to LaTeX. Boston University provides some others for free as well. Still others can only be used on BU machines. Boston University’s Information Services & Technology can offer assistance for a number of these computing tools with either online help or live tutorials.
Beyond conferences and associations, the importance of growth and development in other arenas cannot be overlooked. The ways in which to do this vary WIDELY, but below is a collection of possibilities in addition to resources that can help with finding a job after graduation, an internship or other extracurricular opportunities. One particularly good resource for those graduating is a presentation by alum Margaret Beck et al.
- MathJobs: A useful website for finding jobs that caters to mathematicians.
- NSF fellowships: The National Science Foundation offers various fellowships that may be of interest to graduate students. One such is the Graduate Research Fellowship. Another is EAPSI. Graduating students should consider applying for the following NSF postdoctoral fellowship.
- AP Reading: Becoming a reader for the AP Calculus or AP Statistics exam provides invaluable insight and experience especially for, but not limited to, those interested in teaching.
- AMSTAT: The American Statistical Association offers extensive resources for statisticians looking for internships or jobs. Though these internship listings fall in the “undergraduate” section of the website, they are not limited to undergraduate students.
- BU Career Services: Boston University’s Career Services, now located in the Student Services building near the post office in Kenmore Square, is a great local resource that can provide more personal and accessible assistance.
- International Students: Boston University maintains certain rules and procedures for employment, and international students can get assistance with following them if they follow the link.
- GWISE: This website for Graduate Women In Science and Engineering offers information about fellowships, application tips and various other things not necessarily limited to women.
- NRC: The National Research Council of the National Academies sponsors a number
of awards for graduate, postdoctoral and senior researchers at
participating federal laboratories and affiliated institutions.
- AAAS: The American Association for the Advancement of Science – Science and Technology Policy.
Massachusetts Tax Forms
Students will likely file state taxes in Massachusetts at some point during their time at BU. The following website explains the tax filing procedure and allows for residents living in Massachusetts for at least a year to file their taxes online.
Securing a place to live, especially if you’re coming from far away, can be challenging. Including the potential commute, this decision can depend on a number of factors and preferences. Your office and most of your classes will be located in the MCS building at 111 Cummington Mall.
If you’re planning on applying to the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Boston University or you’ve accepted an offer and will be here soon, your questions may exceed the answers you can find on this site and the others belonging to the department. In that case, please feel free to contact any of the following graduate students via email!