It depends on what your goals are. The Master's program is designed to train statisticians for careers in industry or government, while the research focus of the Ph.D. program is more oriented towards academia (although the Ph.D. can also be used for preparation for jobs in industry). Additionally, the Ph.D. program is more difficult and takes longer to complete. For more information about our statistics options, see this page.
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Graduate Admissions FAQ
Which program / when to apply
At the Ph.D. level it's all one program; students interested in applied mathematics should apply for the Ph.D. in mathematics. The department has a large group of faculty working in applied areas who can direct a thesis.
Our department offers a Master of Science program in Applied Mathematics. We do not offer a direct admit option for a M.S. degree in Mathematics. Ph.D. Candidates who pass the basic qualifying exams but are unable or unwilling to complete the requirements for a doctorate may be able to file for a M.S. in Mathematics.
We do not accept applications for the spring semester for any of our M.S. or Ph.D. programs. Many of our foundational courses last all year, with the spring semester being a continuation of the fall semester. Beginning a graduate program in the spring can also result in difficulties with the timing and completion of qualifying exams. In rare cases students may be able to defer their fall admission to the spring semester, but this requires approval from the Graduate Program Director and is not typically recommended.
Although January 10 is the official deadline for applications to our graduate programs, we do consider late applications. We accept students in several stages through February and into the middle or even late March, and will continue to review applications until the incoming class has filled. Please keep in mind, however, that depending on the applicant pool in a given admission cycle we may fill our class early and so submitting an application before the priority deadline is recommended.
Additionally, applications for the Master of Science in Statistics program at Mt. Ida (Newton campus and the fully remote program) are accepted until May 31 for international students and June 30 for domestic students.
The application for admission to our MS and PhD programs also serves as an application for financial aid (except for the MS in Statistics at Mount Ida). Applicants will automatically be considered for TA support, which also provides a waiver of tuition and some fees.
All application materials must be submitted directly to the online application through the UMass Amherst Graduate School. We cannot accept materials sent directly from applicants. Without the application fee the Graduate Admissions Office will not process the application and will not forward the application to our department. The application fee must be paid at the time that the application is submitted. For information regarding the possibility of receiving a fee waiver or fee sponsorship, please review the How to Apply page.
Examinations (GRE, TOEFL, TSE)
The general GRE is strongly recommended for all applicants, but it is not required. The mathematics subject GRE is required only for applicants to the Mathematics Ph.D. program. The mathematics subject GRE is not required for the Applied Math M.S., Statistics M.S., or Statistics Ph.D. programs.
UPDATE for Admission in Fall 2024: Because of the impact of COVID-19 on ETS test administration, the GRE subject test will not be required in order to apply to the Ph.D. program in Mathematics. Optionally, prospective candidates are welcome to submit their subject GRE scores if they have taken the Mathematics test.
The TOEFL, or other English Prociency Test accepted by the UMass Graduate School, is required of all foreign applicants. For more information about English Language Proficiency Requirements and waiver conditions, please visit the UMass Graduate School's website for International Applicants.
Despite the impact of COVID-19 on test administration, we require submission of a TOEFL (or other accepted English Proficiency Test) score.
TOEFL scores expire within two years of the test date, and must be valid on the expected date you will enter the program. For details about sending in your TOEFL or other English Language Proficiency scores, please visit the International Applicants page.
Yes, we accept both paper-based or computer-based versions of the GRE and TOEFL exams. Official test scores must be submitted electronically directly from the testing administration. Please be advised that for the TOEFL, only the in-person or iBT Home Edition scores will be accepted. Full details are available on the International Applicants page.
The University requires a minimum score of 80 on the iBT for all applications who are required to take the TOEFL. This is a University-wide policy, and the department cannot make exceptions. In fact, since our students will do a fair amount of teaching, we usually want TOEFL scores to be quite a bit better than the minimum. For additional information about the English Language Proficiency Requirement for international students, please visit the Graduate School's website here.
Score reports should be sent to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, school code 3917. There is no specific code for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
International students must demonstrate proficiency in spoken English in order to be a Teaching Assistant (TA). In addition to the required English Proficiency Test scores, new international graduate students may also be asked to complete the International Teaching Assistant (ITA) English proficiency screening test depending on the scores received on their TOEFL or other English Proficiency exam.
Recommendations and transcripts
We require three letters, but if more letters will give a better picture of an applicant's strengths, it will certainly help. There is no upper limit on the number of letters allowed.
After submission of the electronic application, the Graduate School will send an email to each reference with instructions on how to electronically deliver their recommendation.
The university will require official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate schools you have attended, where six or more credits were taken. Official transcripts should be provided directly from the College or University, and may be submitted either electronically or via sealed envelope to the Graduate School. For additional information regarding the submission of official transcripts, please visit the Graduate School's After You Apply page.
Hearing from us
The UMass Amherst Graduate School will not send our department an application for review until the minimum required materials are received. This includes application fee, unofficial transcripts, at least two letters of recommendation, and English proficiency scores if an international student. The admission committees will read and seriously consider all applications that are received by our department, even if not 100% complete. To ensure that your application is not disadvantaged, however, we ask that you explain the reasons for the omission of any of the required materials.
Since we do admissions in batches, there is no single answer to this. We make a large number of decisions beginning in January, and most of our decisions are made by late March. At that point we reject the remaining applicants, except that sometimes we keep a short waiting list until after the April 15th deadline for students to accept or reject our offers. If more students than expected reject the offer, we can admit students off the waiting list.
Please check the status of your application online via the graduate school's website. We receive hundreds of applications each year for graduate study. Because of this, we are not able to individually respond to inquiries regarding receipt of materials.