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Phone: 218-726-8747 / 218-726-8254
Fax: 218-726-8399
Undergraduate Studies:
Graduate Studies:
140 Solon Campus Center (map)
1117 University Drive
Duluth, MN 55812-3000

Home > Graduate Studies > Steps to Success



First Registration

Before your first registration, you need to be aware of several important items:

  • All registration is done online.
  • You must register before the first day of classes to avoid late registration fee! This only applies to your initial registration. If you miss the deadline, you need to request a registration exception.
  • International students cannot register before arriving in U.S. More detailed info about necessary steps concerning Social Security Number, employment paperwork and registration is here.
  • The end of the second week of the semester is the last day to add a course or change sections of a course, or cancel a course without a "W" (indicating withdrawal) appearing on the transcript.
  • Some courses seem to be full, and their status is "Closed". This is because there is usually more demand than can be satisfied so they are kept closed in order to allow our graduate students to register first. You need to go to the department office to get a permission number from Pamela Arola to register for one of these courses. This typically applies to Stat 5571 Probability.
  • It a good idea to take three courses in your first semester (plus Math 8980 Graduate Seminar, which is mandatory); preferably at least two of Math 5201 Real Variables, Math 5371 Abstract Algebra I, and Stat 5571 Probability, which are part of your Comprehensive Exam. The first two are offered in the Fall Semester only, Stat 5571 is offered in both semesters. Students who intend to concentrate in Statistics should take Stat 5571 in the Fall Semester, others may wait until the Spring Semester, depending on other courses selection. Taking less than three courses would mean taking more courses in your second year, when you should concentrate on your Project or Thesis.
  • Math 8980 Graduate Seminar is a mandatory (and also very useful) course which is offered in the Fall Semester only. Everybody should take it in the first year of study. You need to go to the department office to get a permission number from Pamela Arola to register for it. Moreover, every student must attend at least 16 Graduate Colloquia. Colloquia run every other Thursday at 3 PM and you should attend as many as possible during your first year.
  • Many Math and Stat classes fill up early in the registration period. Register for classes as soon as you can. If you are uncertain about all of your intended classes, you can still register for classes as soon as possible and drop/add classes later. If you decide to drop a class, be sure to complete the procedures for dropping a class; otherwise the instructor will give you an F in the class.
  • Students who plan to use statistical methods in their graduate projects should at least take Stat 5411 or Stat 5511. Students who plan to concentrate in statistics should discuss their course selections with one of the statistical faculty. Usually, students concentrating in statistics should include at least Stat 5511, Stat 5531, Stat 5571, and Stat 5572 in their graduate programs. 
  • An exception to the rule above may be the case that you are really interested in a course that is offered only every other year. Check the list first.
  • If you still need to finish an undergraduate course or two, here are instructions how to proceed with registration.

First Semester

During your first semester, pay attention to the following:

  • Decide whether you want to do Plan A with Thesis, or Plan B with Project. That may affect the number and selection of courses for your second semester.
  • Before registering for Spring Semester courses, remember that you should definitely take Math 5327 Advanced Linear Algebra, which is a part of your Comprehensive Exam and is offered in the Spring Semester only. (If you started in January, you should register for Math 5201 Real Variables, Stat 5571 Probability and Math 5371 Abstract Algebra I for your second semester.)
  • It is a good idea to meet with Director of Graduate Studies (who is your Advisor anyway) to discuss your course selection for the second semester.
  • Then check the list of courses for the following two years to see which ones are offered only every other year.
  • It is a good idea to register for three courses for your second semester, especially if you decided to choose Plan B. Otherwise you would have to take too many courses in your last semester, when you want to focus on the research for your project.
  • Do not forget that you need to take at least 6 credits in Related Field(s). STAT counts as related field except STAT 5571 Probability, which does not count towards the 6 credit requirement. If you want to obtain a Minor, then the Related Field credits need to be with the same course designator, and a faculty member in that field has to be on your Examining Committee.
  • Make sure that you learn as much LaTeX as you can in Grad Seminar. You will need it when writing your thesis/project! A good supplemental resource is here.

Second Semester

There are several major items you need to take care of this semester:

  • You should be taking Advanced Linear Algebra, because it is a degree requirement and you need to pass this portion of the Comprehensive Exam.
  • After the first few weeks start thinking about your choice of Advisor, topic for your Thesis/Project, and whether you want to pursue Plan A (thesis) or Plan B (project). It is a good idea to talk to faculty about the topics offered the following academic year.
  • Find an Advisor by April 1 or November 1. Email the Advisor's name to DGS at Discuss with your Advisor the area of your Thesis or Project, your second year course choices, and choices for the two members of your Examining Committee. When planning your courses, do not forget about the Related Field requirement. If you choose Plan B, try to leave at most two courses for your fourth semester. If you choose Plan A, you should save your last semester for research and finishing your Thesis. The only exception would be if there is a course which you are extremely interested in and it was not offered during your first year.
  • Then meet with the whole committee. Discuss with them your plan of courses for the second year of study as well as the research area for the Thesis or Project. [This is not required, just recommended.]  
  • Your list of courses (including all your first year courses and all planned courses for the second year) must be approved by your Advisor. Then you complete the Graduate Degree Plan, take it to DGS for approval and submit it to the Math Department Office by April 20 or November 20. Keep a copy for your records, and do the same with all other important documents that you submit to the Grad School or department.
  • Also by April 20, complete the Application for Comprehensive Examination Form and submit it to Math Department office, even if you are not planning on taking it that semester—in that case you need to state your reasons for not taking it, i.e., you have not completed the courses yet (this is usually the case if you started in January). The exam is typically given on Saturday, one week after the Final Exam week at 9 AM in SCC 130. If you started in January and want to take the exam, complete the Application for Comprehensive Examination Form by November 20. However, the Fall semester exam is only given when sufficient demand exists.
  • If you want to apply for the Summer Research Fellowship, you need to complete the Application by April 30. (Instructions are here.) Every graduate student is eligible for the fellowship at most once over the course of study. Most students use this opportunity during their first summer to get a head start on their thesis or project research. After completing their summer research project, all students are required to submit a brief (2-4 pages) Final Report approved by their Advisor by September 1.
  • If you are going to apply to a PhD program next year and the schools of your choice require the GRE Subject Test, start studying! It is never too early. These tests are only offered in September and October.
  • When you register for next semester, make sure you are following your approved list of planned courses! Any changes would have to be approved in writing by your Committee and DGS.

Third Semester

Only a few items in this semester:

  • Make sure that you discuss with you Advisor a detailed timeline of your research.
  • If you are on Plan B, you need to register for 2 credits of Math 8994 Directed Research in both your third and fourth semester. You only need to turn in the Directed Research Form once for your first registration. The deadline is the first day of classes. After that you would need submit another one if there are significant changes in your research, like a new Advisor or a new topic.
  • If you are on Plan A, you should be almost done with your courses. You have probably started working on your research over the summer, so keep working hard! Also make sure that you distribute your 10 credits for Math 8777 Thesis properly. (Here are some more details about how to register.) To be a full time student, you need at least 6 semester credits. So if you are not planning on taking any courses next semester, save 6 credits of Math 8777 for later and use at most 4 this semester.
  • If you are going to apply to a PhD program, you need Letters of Recommendation. You should ask the recommenders to write the letters for you early enough—in early November is a good time. Writing such a letter takes time and you want to be sure that you do not miss the deadline.
  • If the schools of your choice require the GRE Subject Test, start studying! It is never too early. These tests are only offered in September and October.
  • If you started in January, you need to fill the Application for Comprehensive Examination Form by April 20 unless you already passed the exam. You should also submit your application for the Summer Research Fellowship; you need to complete the Application by April 30. (Instructions are here.) Every graduate student is eligible for the fellowship at most once over the course of study.

Fourth Semester

Here are the major items you need to take care of this semester:

  • If you are on Plan B, you need to register for 2 credits of Math 8994 Directed Research again. However, you (usually - see above) do not need to fill the form again.
  • Fill the online form (you may need to do some digging here since the original location has changed) to get your committee set up and approved. You can also go directly to committee approval page. Remember that one member of the committee must rep resent your "related field." Hence, it must be someone from another department, or in Statistics. Be careful about whom you put into that box when filling the form. Please make sure that you discuss the committee membership with the prospective members. You cannot put someone on your committee unless you have their approval!
  • Once you know when your Thesis/Project will be finished, discuss with your Advisor a date for your Final Examination. Then check with the other Committee Members that they would be available. Remember that the committee members need to get a copy of your thesis/project 10 days before the defense date. The final version (with all changes recommended by the committee included) is due only after the defense. Guidelines for formatting etc. are here.
  • However, you still need to complete your Application for Degree Form and submit it to the UMD Graduate School Office on or before the first working day of the month in which you intend to graduate. The form is currently NOT downloadable and you need to get it from Graduate School.
  • If you want to take part in Commencement, you need to submit the Commencement Attendance Questionnaire by March 1. More details can be found at the Graduate School page.
  • Before the Final Examination (e. i., your defense) you need to request the Graduation Packet from the Graduate School at least two weeks before the defense date (more info here). Please talk to your Advisor and/or DGS about it early enough. Your Advisor will take care of the paperwork after the defense .
  • A pdf file with the final version of the thesis/project needs to be submitted to the department. For Plan A, another pdf file must to be submitted to the Graduate School. Instructions are here. It can be also posted in the UMD d-Commons (for instructions, ask Shelby or DGS).


Here are some irregular items that did not fit elsewhere:

  • A nice list of important Graduate School dates and deadlines is here.
  • Another list of important Math Dept dates and deadlines.
  • If you want to take a course (even online) at UM Twin Cities Campus, you need to fill out and submit a multi institutional application. Typically you will send in the form with the parts A through D filled out.  
  • If you need to take a break in your study (semester, academic year, or even more), you should maintain your Active status by registering for GRAD 999 or MATH 8333 courses. To learn which one is better for you, see the policy. If you do not register for one of them, you may need to re-apply before you come back and you may lose your benefits and/or visa status. Information about readmission is here and the official policy is here, Ask your Advisor or DGS about details. Another option is to apply for a Leave of Absence (for up to two years). Related policy is here and the application form is here. There is also a to guide that policy and FAQs.
  • If for some reason you want to end your GTA appointment before the end of your contract (e.g., you get a job that begins before the contract expires, or you complete your degree in less than four semesters), discuss the procedures with Paula Cotten, Department Head, and/or DGS before you resign. Early resignation may have financial consequences, when not done properly.
  • If you want to change your registration (e.g., add, drop, change your grade basis) after a deadline or to register for more than 18 credits, you need to request a registration exception. Remember that if you have TA benefits, you need to pay for any credits over 14 per semester.
  • Graduate Teaching Assistants' reappointment is regulated by GTA Reappointment Policy.


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Last modified on 08/27/12 02:45 PM
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