Applications to Penn's graduate mathematics program should be submitted electronically. We no longer accept hard copy application forms.
The application period runs from October through December 31, for admission the following August. During that period, the electronic application form for the Graduate Mathematics Program can be accessed here.
(1) Applicants should check that their applications are complete and correct before submitting them, since the online system does not allow changes to be made after that. Complete applications contain the following items:
Transcripts (can be unofficial at this stage)
Letters of recommendation (at least 3, at most 5)
The application form consists of these sections:
No additional writing sample is needed in the application.
Exemptions from the TOEFL are granted to applicants whose native language is English; to those who did their entire undergraduate studies in the United States or Canada; and to those whose spoken English skills have been adequately demonstrated to our admissions committee.
Transcripts are uploaded to the Academic Background section, after entering the other requested information there. The transcript can be unofficial. Those applicants who are admitted will be required to submit an official transcript prior to matriculating in the Penn Math Graduate Program.
(2) The deadline for submission of Ph.D. applications is December 31 (where financial support is being requested). If some of the material related to the application (letters of recommendation or test scores) is received a few days later, the application can still be considered (but must be submitted by December 31). Since the Admissions Committee reads and starts evaluating the files during January, material must arrive by then in order to be considered during the admission process.
If supplementary application materials are submitted after January 1 (whether or not financial support is being requested), a follow-up email message should be sent to the Mathematics Department's Graduate Group Chair, indicating what has been submitted. This includes letters of recommendation.
(3) In order to submit an on-line application, it is necessary to list at least three people (generally mathematics professors) as writers of letters of recommendation. Once your application is submitted, you cannot arrange for any additional letter writers (beyond those you listed in your application) to upload letters directly to the online system. Instead, if you wish to get additional letters beyond those you indicated on your application, you can ask the additional letter writers to email their letters to the Mathematics Graduate Administrator, Reshma Tanna. In their message they should state that this letter is for your application to the Mathematics Graduate Program and that the letter should be uploaded to your application.
(4) Admissions decisions are made by the Mathematics Graduate Admissions Committee, and not by individual professors. Therefore, requests for admission should not be sent to individual members of the faculty, and instead should be submitted as indicated above. Nevertheless, applicants could contact one or at most two professors with whom they may have a particular interest in working, in order to discuss their interest in applying and in doing research in their area. (DO NOT send mass emails to professors!)
(5) Applicants cannot be considered for possible admission (and no admission decision can be made) until an official online application form is submitted by the applicant and is received by the Mathematics Graduate Admissions Committee.
(6) Applicants may wish to visit the Penn Math Department in person (via scheduling an appointment), to get a better sense of the department and the graduate program. Such visits can be helpful to applicants in deciding where to apply and what offers to accept (but are not part of the Admissions Committee's decision process).
(7) Those who are admitted will be notified by email and letter. Those who are rejected will have their status indicated on the online application website. While some decisions will be made in February or early March, others will not be made until close to the uniform reply date of April 15, since our admissions committee must wait for replies from those admitted in the first round before being able to make offers to those on our waitlist.
(8) In the personal statement, all Ph.D. applications within the Graduate Division of Arts & Sciences should address the following: Please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity and/or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected the course of your education. We are interested in your lived experiences and how your particular perspective might contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.
In the Math Graduate Group, we also suggest that your statement include examples of specific mathematical problems or theories that you find particularly interesting, possibly with details of how and why you became interested in these, new results that you may have obtained or are working on, how you envision your future work on those issues, and names of Penn faculty with whom you might want to work on these.
(9) Penn offers application fee waivers for some applicants. All fee waiver requests for hardships, McNair Scholars, etc., should be sent to the Graduate Division of Arts and Sciences for their review. Requests may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that application fee waivers are not provided for international applicants.