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, we also offer numerous opportunities to get involved in areas inside and outside the classroom to foster independent and collaborative growth.

To augment this experience, this site consolidates many of the resources frequently used by our graduate students.


  1. Qualifying Exams and Milestones
  2. Associations and Conferences
  3. Graduate Student Organization
  4. Typesetting with LaTeX and Beamer
  5. Graduation Materials
  6. Software and Technology
  7. Professional Development (jobs, internships, etc.)
  8. MA Tax Forms
  9. Housing
  10. Organizations for Women in STEM
  11. BU Underrepresented Graduate Student Organization

Qualifying Exams and Milestones

Qualifying Exams:

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.

  1. Preliminary Exams
  2. Statistics MA Qualifying Exams (including Statistics Ph.D. Applied Qualifying Exam)
  3. Statistics Ph.D. Theory Qualifying Exams


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.

  1. Pure & Applied Mathematics
  2. Statistics

Associations and Conferences

Below you will find useful information about the various mathematics and statistics associations and conferences. It is almost a certainty that you will get involved with some of these in some way, so you should definitely take the time to familiarize yourself.


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):

  1. American Mathematical Society (AMS; free through BU)
  2. Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM; free through BU)
  3. Mathematical Association of America (MAA; $35)
  4. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM; free through BU)
  5. Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA)
  6. American Statistical Association (ASA; $15)
  7. Royal Statistical Society (RSS; ~$13)
  8. Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS; free)
  9. International Statistical Institute (ISI; ~$66)
  10. 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:

  1. Joint Mathematics Meetings
  2. Joint Statistical Meetings
  3. New England Statistics Symposium
  4. AMS Calendar
  5. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Calendar
  6. IMA Program

A number of these associations organize, sponsor, or host programs over the summer that graduate students are encouraged to participate in. An extensive (though not exhaustive) list of such programs can be found here.

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.

  1. GSO Homepage

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).

Installation: Using LaTeX requires the installation of MiKTeX and your choice of text editor. Some popular choices, somewhat tailored for LaTeX, are TeXnicCenter and TeXworks.

References: The guides below offer introductions and tutorials of varying lengths for the use of LaTeX.

  1. Short Guide 1
  2. Short Guide 2
  3. Short Guide 3
  4. Long Guide 1
  5. Long Guide 2
  6. TikZ Guide (for drawing and graphics)

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.

  1. LaTeX Custom Style File Example
  2. LaTeX Example
  3. Beamer Example
  4. Poster Example

Resume and Curriculum Vitae: Here are a number of LaTeX templates for your resume and curriculum vitae.

Graduation Materials

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.

  1. BU Dissertation Style File and Example

Deadlines: Graduation year is filled with deadlines and deliverables that are important for you to be aware of well ahead of time. Note that the first deadline is usually for the Dissertation Prospectus around early October.

  1. Intent to Graduate Forms are due according to the following schedule for both MA and PhD students:
    1. September 28th for January graduation
    2. January 25th for May graduation
    3. September 25th for September graduation

For PhD Students

  1.  At least three weeks prior to the dissertation defense, you must schedule your final oral examination (with abstract approval), request a special service appointment (if applicable), and submit a formatted draft of your dissertation to GRS Records (
  2. The last day to hold a final oral exam is typically 1.5 months prior to the intended graduation date. Please check the GRS website for specific dates.
  3. Following the defense of your dissertation, the below items must be submitted about one month prior to the intended graduation date (check the GRS website for specific dates)
    1. Final submission of dissertation (online)
    2. Submission of approval page with original signatures
    3. Payment of dissertation processing fee
    4. PhD contact information form
    5. BU doctoral exit survey
    6. Survey of Earned Doctorates

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.

  1. R and RStudio (a popular interface for R)
  2. Mathematica
  4. Python
  5. SAS
  6. JMP

Professional Development

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. A particularly good resource for those graduating is a presentation by alum Margaret Beck et al. A recently held professional development seminar about the job search and application process resulted in a plethora of useful information for future graduates.


  1. Dynamics Journals

Internships, Jobs, and Fellowships:

  1. MathJobs: A useful website for finding jobs that caters to mathematicians.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. AAAS: The American Association for the Advancement of Science – Science and Technology Policy.
  10. Summer Programs: Summer programs and institutions offering research and networking opportunities both inside and outside the United States.

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.

  1. Massachusetts state taxes filing and payment information


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.

Housing options are numerous including on-campus graduate student housing offered by Boston University. Finding other apartments or roommates can be done in a multitude of ways including craigslist.

Women in STEM
There are several on-campus organizations that support Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), by providing resources and organizing professional and social activities. They include the following:

  1. GWISE
  3. Women in Mathematics and Statistics: This is an informal group within our department that meets a couple times each semester for tea, with the goal being to foster connections and to create a supportive work environment. We welcome the participation of all PhD students, postdocs, and faculty in the department who identify as female, trans, or nonbinary. For more information, or to be added to the group’s email list, please contact Jennifer Balakrishnan ( or Margaret Beck (

BU Underrepresented Graduate Student Organization
There is a student group for underrepresented graduate students across campus that provides a variety of resources and offers monthly activities.