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Computational Mathematics: Frequently Asked Questions

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Below is a list of quick links to all frequently asked questions and answers.  Alternatively, you can browse topically based on the type of question you have: application, financial, program, or career.

  1. What background do you expect your students to have before beginning the program?
  2. What application materials do you require?
  3. I'm experiencing technical difficulties with the application process. Who should I contact?
  4. Do you have required minimum GRE scores?
  5. Do you have a required minimum undergraduate GPA?
  6. Do you have required minimum language scores for international students?
  7. How do I provide an explanation for weaknesses in my application (weak background in all three program disciplines, inconsistent undergraduate grades, poor GRE scores, etc.)?
  8. Will you consider an incomplete or late application?
  9. How much does the program cost?
  10. What types of financial assistance do you offer?
  11. How do I apply for financial assistance?
  12. What is a normal full-time course load?
  13. How long does it take to complete the program?
  14. Can I take all of my classes in the evening?
  15. What is the internship requirement?
  16. Do you provide internships?
  17. What is the thesis/project requirement?
  18. What is the 4-1 program for Duquesne undergraduates?
  19. What are your graduates doing?

Application Questions

  1. What background do you expect your students to have before beginning the program?

    An adequately prepared student will have at least the equivalent of a minor, preferably a major, in one of the three disciplines--mathematics, computer science, and statistics--covered by the Computational Mathematics program. Specific courses they will have had will include two semesters of a majors-level calculus sequence, an introductory majors-level programming course in a language such as Java or C++, and a calculus-based probability and/or statistics course similar to Duquesne's MATH 301. The student will have earned good grades (typically, B or better) in all of the relevant classes. Students without prior coursework/knowledge equivalent to at least a minor in one of our program's disciplines will likely not be admitted. Students missing one or more of the specific courses mentioned above will, if admitted, be admitted provisionally, with regular admission contingent on the student successfully filling in the missing background in a manner satisfactory to the department. This background will be required prior to the student taking core courses in the affected disciplines.

  2. What application materials do you require?

    Application begins by completing an online form that asks for contact and certain other information. Additional materials required are

    • transcripts of prior work (even if undergraduate work was completed at Duquesne University);
    • three letters of recommendation, at least two of which should be from references who can comment meaningfully on the student's prior academic performance;
    • a brief (no more than approximately 500 word) personal statement;
    • a resume;
    • GRE general exam scores.

    Students for whom English is a second language must also submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Note that the Computational Mathematics program does not require a writing sample beyond the personal statement. Details regarding the application process can be found at the Graduate School of Liberal Arts application page.

  3. I'm experiencing technical difficulties with the application process. Who should I contact?

    The application process is overseen by the Graduate School of Liberal Arts. Their contact information can be found on the left side of the application page.

  4. Do you have required minimum GRE scores?

    Although we look at applications holistically and have no fixed numeric requirements, generally speaking, we expect an applicant's GRE quantitative scores to be in the top quartile. Very low verbal GRE scores can also be a detriment to admission.

  5. Do you have a required minimum undergraduate GPA?

    Again, we take a holistic approach to applications and have no fixed numeric requirements. That said, we do look carefully at grades in majors-level math, computer science, and statistics courses, where we want to see strong performance, say, a GPA 3.5 or above on the standard 4.0 scale. A student who has struggled in such courses as an undergraduate will likely not do well in our graduate program. A number of low grades in other subject areas could also lead our committee to decide against admission.

  6. Do you have required minimum language scores for international students?

    Overall, we expect TOEFL scores of 80 or more or IELTS scores of 7 or above.  The University also performs its own testing on accepted students and may require English as a Second Language (ESL) courses; see the ESL page on language policies for more information.

  7. How do I provide an explanation for weaknesses in my application (weak background in all three program disciplines, inconsistent undergraduate grades, poor GRE scores, etc.)?

    The personal statement can be used to state not only why you are applying to Computational Mathematics but also to explain why you believe that you should be admitted despite shortcomings in your prior academic record.

  8. Will you consider an incomplete or late application?

    Although we might consider an almost-complete or slightly late application, we only guarantee to consider applications which are complete by the application deadline.

Financial Questions

  1. How much does the program cost?

    Costs vary from year to year; see the graduate tuition rates page for details. As of 2016-17, undiscounted tuition is $1,234 per credit, and certain fees might also apply. There is also currently a 25% tuition award for new students enrolled in the program who are taking at least 6 credits per semester. This award brings the 2016-17 tuition down to $925.50 per credit.

  2. What types of financial assistance do you offer?

    In addition to the 25% tuition award that is currently (2016-17) being offered, the department awards a limited number of teaching assistantships each year, typically to students entering in the fall. In the past, these assistantships have required approximately 15-20 hours of teaching-related work per week during the academic year in exchange for 9 tuition credits each semester and a modest stipend toward living expenses. There might also be research assistantships available, based on faculty grant funding. The University maintains a page of information on graduate financing.

  3. How do I apply for financial assistance?

    To be considered for financial assistance, indicate on the initial online application form that you want to be considered for assistantships or other financial assistance.

Program Questions

  1. What is a normal full-time course load?

    Nine graduate credits is considered a normal full-time course load in our program. The University considers a student who is enrolled in a graduate program and taking six graduate credits to be a full time student.

  2. How long does it take to complete the program?

    The program requires 36 credits, plus possibly one additional internship credit (see below for more on the internship requirement). The program is designed so that a well-prepared full-time student beginning in a fall semester can complete the program in two years, typically including at least one summer of work to fulfill--or have waived--the internship requirement and perhaps a second summer to complete the project or thesis requirement. A part-time student will typically require longer. For instance, at a rate of three credits per semester, the program would require something like six years. Note that the maximum amount of time allowed by the University to complete a Master's program is six years.

  3. Can I take all of my classes in the evening?

    It has been possible to complete the Computational Mathematics program while taking only evening courses, and we expect to continue to offer enough evening classes to make this possible in the future. As of 2015-16, all of the program's core courses are offered in the evening, and at least some electives each semester are also evening courses. You can view current and past class schedules; our program code is CPMA.

  4. What is the internship requirement?

    All students are required to either have paid work experience in areas closely related to the program or to complete an approved internship, paid or unpaid, for credit. If a student fulfills the internship requirement by earning credit, that credit is over and above the normal 36 credits required to complete the program.

  5. Do you provide internships?

    We support students seeking internships in a variety of ways, including providing advice on resume development, arranging seminars led by industry professionals, and communicating internship opportunities. However, we do not provide or arrange internships. This is each student's responsibility. A high percentage of our students have located well-paid internships after successfully completing our program's core coursework.

  6. What is the thesis/project requirement?

    Each student is required to complete, under the supervision of one of our faculty members, a thesis or project that applies some of the knowledge and skills they have acquired in one or more of the program's three disciplines to a question or problem of interest to the student. The student then writes a paper describing their answer to the question or solution to the problem and presents their work at a public "defense." You can watch a video of a recent graduate describing his thesis work and access online copies of past theses. Up to 6 credits of the 36 credits required by the program can be earned through completing the project or thesis.

  7. What is the 4-1 program for Duquesne undergraduates?

    The 4-1 program allows a student to count up to six graduate credits toward both the undergraduate degree and the Computational Mathematics program. If the student's schedule allows, additional graduate credits can be earned during the senior year that can be applied toward the M.S. degree but that will not count toward the undergraduate degree. This program could conceivably allow a student to complete both an undergraduate degree and a Master's degree in as little as five years as opposed to the six years that would otherwise typically be required. Duquesne undergraduate students potentially interested in the 4-1 program should contact the Computational Mathematics Graduate Director by the end of the fall of their junior year.

Career Questions

  1. What are your graduates doing?

    A number of our graduates are employed in areas that would broadly be described as "data analysis" for either firms that specialize in analysis or that have large amounts of their own data to be analyzed, such as banks and insurance companies. A sizeable fraction have entered other graduate programs, particularly Ph.D. programs in statistics or applied mathematics. Still others have taken teaching positions. For more information, you might read profiles of two recent graduates, Shelly Lukon and Meghan McCarthy.