Skip to main content

Information for Prospective Graduate Students


The Department of Mathematics offers the doctor of philosophy and master of arts degrees in mathematics. Most of our students pursue a Ph.D.

The Ph.D. program requires 72 credit hours of course work, including dissertation research. Doctoral candidates complete a core curriculum in algebra, analysis, and topology. After passing preliminary exams in two of these three areas, students study in their area of concentration. For Ph.D. candidacy students pass a qualifying examination involving either an oral examination in their specialty or an expository paper. Once students have qualified for Ph.D. candidacy, they concentrate on dissertation research.


  • The most recent (2010) National Research Council (NRC) report on U.S. math graduate programs places our department in the top group of graduate programs surveyed.
  • The Department of Mathematics has a distinguished international faculty that includes three invited speakers at the International Congress of Mathematicians.
  • The department has a variety of research groups: geometric group theory, geometry/topology, approximation theory, number theory, noncommutative geometry, operator algebras, gravitation and waves, mathematical biology, partial differential equations, and graph theory.
  • The stimulating research environment is supported by an ongoing program that attracts visiting scholars from institutions around the world and hosts several major conferences a year.
  • The Department of Mathematics has approximately twenty five research faculty and twenty five resident graduate students. It is large enough to support a wide range of courses, but small enough for students to receive individual attention from faculty members.
  • Graduate students are given one to two years of training to teach at the college level. After that period, they generally serve as TAs and eventually instructors in calculus classes. This opportunity provides valuable experience in communication, even for students who do not pursue careers in academia.
  • Our graduate students are very successful in securing jobs.
  • Nashville offers the amenities of a large city and the friendliness of a small town.


Most Ph.D. students in mathematics receive a Graduate Teaching Assistantship and support is usually provided for a five-year period. Teaching assistants receive a University Tuition Scholarship (a service-free award that pays all tuition costs), student health insurance coverage and a twelve-month stipend. For 2024/25 the stipend is $36500. Some highly qualified applicants are awarded University Graduate Fellowships that provide an additional stipend up to $5,000. Also, the Graduate School awards several Provost’s Graduate Fellowships that provide an additional $10,000 to highly qualified students from underrepresented groups.

Students who do not have financial aid pay tuition of $2215 per credit hour.


First-year graduate students participate in a weekly teaching seminar and conduct tutored study halls for calculus.

Second and third-year students serve as TAs. Responsibilities include attending class meetings, conducting a weekly recitation section, holding office hours, and grading papers.

Fourth and fifth-year students with good teaching evaluations and strong recommendations from their faculty mentors are assigned to teach a first-year calculus course.


Vanderbilt University’s libraries are among the top research libraries in the nation, home to more than eight million items, including print publications, microfilm items, and digital collections. The mathematics collection is housed in the Science and Engineering Library, conveniently located in the math building. This collection is excellent, both in books and access to electronic resources, including e-journals and online databases such as MathSciNet and Web of Science. Items not available locally can be borrowed through interlibrary loan, which is free of charge to graduate students.

Computational resources available to graduate students include access to the university’s large cluster and desktop computers equipped with computer algebra software and LaTeX. Graduate students may use these facilities freely for research, writing, and teaching.

Furthermore, the graduate students’ office suite is a newly renovated state-of-the-art facility.


Ample private housing is available within walking distance of the campus. The Office of Housing and Residential Education maintains an off-campus housing referral service. Visit their web page at: Off-Campus Housing.


Vanderbilt is a private university, founded in 1873. The university includes the four undergraduate schools, the Graduate School, and eight professional schools.

Located approximately two miles from downtown Nashville, Vanderbilt is situated on 330 acres and is designated as an arboretum. A diverse student body of about 6,800 undergraduates and 6,200 graduate and professional students is taught by more than 4,300 full-time faculty members.

The metropolitan Nashville area, in the heart of middle Tennessee, has a population of over one million. The city, a center for music of all kinds, has many other cultural and entertainment opportunities, including theatre, film, museums, symphony, recreation areas, and three major league sports teams and one minor league baseball team.


Applications should be made online and can be accessed through Vanderbilt’s Graduate School at Application Process. Your application will simultaneously be sent to the Department of Mathematics. Details of application deadlines for Fall 2025 will be announced shortly. Information about the applications for the previous cycle are below for reference.

In the event you are unable to apply online, please send an email message to and request a copy of the application. A printable version of the application form will then be sent to you as an email attachment.

Below is a list of required information and materials you will need in order to complete your application. You may begin an application at any time and fill in the missing information when it becomes available.

  1. GRE General Test scores (No minimum score required) The GRE General Test is optional for our current graduate application cycle with admission in Fall 2024.
  2. GRE Mathematics Subject Test score (No minimum score required) The GRE Mathematics Subject Test is optional for our current graduate application cycle with admission in Fall 2024.
  3. Letters of recommendation (Minimum of 3 letters required)
  4. Transcripts
  5. Statement of purpose
  6. TOEFL score is required of all applicants that have not received a degree from an English-speaking university. (The minimum acceptable score on the paper-based test is 570, and for the internet-based test, 88.)

We look forward to reading your application!


Applications to our graduate program ordinarily require an application fee. Some fee waivers are available to US citizens/permanent residents via the Graduate School directly, as documented here. The math department also has a limited number of additional fee waivers available upon request. Please write to to request a waiver. We will assume if you are asking for a fee waiver from the department that you are not eligible for the fee waiver offered by the Graduate School, or have been denied that waiver.

Note: Please do not send tax return documents or any other documents showing sensitive or confidential personal information such as your social security number.

FAQs for Prospective Graduate Students


For further information, please contact:
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Mathematics, 1326 Stevenson Center
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37240, U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 615 322 6672
Fax: +1 615 343 0215