Department of Math and Computer Science
Math Comprehensive Exam Description
All students are required to complete a Capstone Experience in order to receive the M.S. degree in mathematics. For Options I and III, this Capstone Experience is a Comprehensive Examination; for Option II, it is the Project.
The following information applies to Options I and III only. The comprehensive exam consists of four sections, each covering one area of mathematics. The exam for each section lasts two hours. In Option I, the areas are: Real Analysis, Complex Analysis, Algebra, and Topology. For Option III, they are: Applied Analysis (covering advanced calculus and differential equations), Numerical Analysis, Linear Programming, and Probability.
The exams are offered in Fall and Spring quarters, generally on the Thursday and Friday of the last (or next-to-last) week of the quarter. Syllabi listing topics to be covered on each exam are available, as are copies of exams from previous years, from the Mathematics/Computer Science Student Center.
Students must pass all four sections of the exam. Students who pass only one part of the exam at a given time receive no credit for that part and must repeat the entire exam at a later offering. Students who pass at least two parts at once will receive credit for those parts, and may take (or retake) the remaining parts at a later time. Thus, although a student may elect to take only two or three sections of the exam at one time, it is not useful to take only one section.
At most two attempts at the entire exam, or three attempts at any one part, are allowed, although the student may appeal to the Mathematics Graduate Committee to allow further attempts.