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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Can both of my co-advisors be from the same department?

No. AIM is fundamentally an interdisciplinary degree program. Each Ph.D. student must have one co-advisor from the Department of Mathematics and a second co-advisor from any partner-discipline department other than mathematics.

I am interested in applied mathematics, but I am not so sure I want to be in program as interdisciplinary as AIM; I'd rather focus on the methodology of "applicable mathematics" than any specific application. How can I do this at Michigan?

The AIM program is just one degree program in the Department of Mathematics. Some fraction of students entering the standard Mathematics Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan also choose to work on "applied" problems for their thesis research, but typically do not seek supervision outside of the Department of Mathematics. Whether you choose AIM or the Mathematics degree programs, you will have access to exactly the same faculty in the Department of Mathematics, and exactly the same mathematics courses and seminars. AIM graduate students share office space with, take many of the same courses as, and are advised by some of the same faculty as graduate students in the standard Mathematics graduate program. The degree requirements for the two programs are somewhat different, however.

Why can't I find any AIM courses on Wolverine Access (the University's course registration system)?

Since AIM is a graduate program and not a department, we do not offer our own courses. Instead, all relevant graduate-level courses offered by the Department of Mathematics or any other department at the University of Michigan are available for AIM students. For details and suggestions, check out the coursework requirements page.

How highly is the AIM Program ranked?

This question does not have a straightforward answer because AIM is a separate graduate program within the Department of Mathematics at the University of Michigan. However, in the 2014 U.S. News and World Report survey, the University of Michigan was ranked 9th in Mathematics and 10th in Applied Mathematics. The applied mathematics faculty at the University of Michigan (including researchers from the Department of Mathematics and others, all of which are available to AIM students as co-advisors) was ranked 1st in the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index computed by Academic Analytics in 2007. The AIM Program is too young to be evaluated in the most recent National Research Council (NRC) Survey, for which the data was collected in 2006. However, in the latest NRC rankings released in September 2010, graduate study in mathematics at the University of Michigan was ranked in the range from 4th-12th (for the "regression based" quality score) and from 7th-20th (for the "survey-based" quality score).

My background is in another area, but I've taken a few upper-level undergraduate mathematics courses, and I see that AIM considers applicants like me. My question is: if I am not as well-versed in mathematics as some other students when I start, will I have trouble teaching mathematics courses as part of the typical support package for Ph.D. students?

Teaching assignments for first-year graduate students vary, but usually consist of teaching a section of our introductory calculus course. This is a highly-managed course with many instructors and is taught in small sections, so your interaction with your students will be quite highly structured using materials designed by experienced faculty. It is a rewarding and educational experience that incoming AIM students of all backgrounds are qualified for. Other possible assignments for first-year graduate students involve grading for a higher-level course or tutoring in the Math Lab (the tutoring center for the Department of Mathematics).

How many students are in the AIM degree programs?

For the last several years, the AIM Ph.D. program has been admitting between 5 and 7 students per year, and the attrition rate is quite low (most admitted students graduate). The time-to-degree is nominally 5 years, so there are about 30 AIM Ph.D. students total in the program. The M.S. program usually has about 10 students, including 4 in the recently added Marjorie Lee Browne Scholars Program.

...and how does that compare with the number of graduate students in the standard mathematics graduate program?

There are currently about 150 graduate students total (including AIM) in the Department of Mathematics.

I'm a faculty member from another department, and a mathematics Ph.D. student in the AIM Program recently approached me about being a thesis "co-advisor". What does this mean? Will I or my department be financially responsible for this student in some way?

The first thing you should know is that the AIM student is not looking for financial support from you or your department. All AIM Ph.D. students are fully supported through the Department of Mathematics. Each AIM Ph.D. student must work with a co-advisor from outside the Department of Mathematics and a co-advisor from the Department of Mathematics. You can find out some more specific information about the responsibility you would be taking on in a co-advisor role on our Faculty Resources page.

Do any of the AIM degree programs require knowledge of a foreign language?

No, none of the AIM degree programs require an examination on a foreign language. However, the Mathematics PhD program does currently require students to pass an examination in either French, German, or Russian.