Graduate support and advice

This page is for graduate students, especially those with Assistantship or Fellowship support. It clarifies the rules and procedures you need to know to get the most out of your tuition credits and to avoid paying costly tuition expenses on your own. Since the rules are set by SU Graduate School and the Registrar, Mathematics Department cannot offer you much help if they have not been followed.

Academic Advising

Graduate students without a Ph.D. advisor are assigned an academic advisor (Mark Kleiner, Graham Leuschke, Yuan Yuan, or Dan Zacharia). For others, their Ph.D. advisor will also serve as an academic advisor.


Graduate students must be advised before registering (see above), and must register as soon as possible thereafter. Decisions to cancel upper-level courses, when necessary, are based on enrollments. In addition, teaching assignments are based on registration figures. SU rules on adding and dropping courses, summarized on the teaching page, apply to graduate students as well.

Registration problems

  • In advance of registration, click View Holds on MySlice to make sure you can resolve them on time. The Registrar’s Holds page explains how to resolve them. It is common for graduate students to encounter DBT (no Degree-Bearing Transcript) hold when registering. To avoid this, request the official transcript from your undergraduate school to be sent to Graduate School admissions as soon as the degree is posted to the transcript.
  • If you cannot enroll in a class because it is full, Ms. Kelly Jarvi may be able to help.

Using tuition credits

The Graduate School awards you tuition credit that supplements the Teaching Assistantship awarded by the Mathematics Department. For most Teaching Assistants with a full year assistantship, the tuition award is good for 24 credit hours of course work. If you are within 24 credits of the total needed for your program (currently 90), you will only be issued the number required to get to that total.

You should read your assistantship letter to determine the size of your credit hour award and any restriction on its use. Enrolling in more credits than you are issued can result in huge tuition bills.

Credits can be used at the rate of 9 credit hours in each of the fall and spring semesters and 6 credit hours in the summer. (Caution: there are not usually very many graduate courses offered in the summer.)

  • If you wish to register for more than 9 credit hours of course work in either the fall or spring semester, you must petition to move credits between semesters. To do so, see Mr Jordan Correia as early as practical. If you do not do this by the financial deadline, you will be billed for the additional credits.
  • If you drop a class by the financial deadline, you have not used the tuition credits for that course and may use them elsewhere. However, if you drop a class after the financial deadline, you will have used the tuition credits and they will be gone, even if you did not attend the class. The financial deadline is listed on the homepage of this site and on the departmental planning calendar.
  • Math Education students may be required to take a 4 credit class at some point. Please plan your tuition credits accordingly.

Courses and tuition credits for summer

  • Once you have filed a diploma request on MySlice, you lose any tuition credits that remain after the listed graduation date. For example, if you plan to take a summer course (or courses) and do not wish to pay the tuition for them yourself, do not list a graduation date that is before the end of the session in which the course is offered.
  • Although teaching in summer gives you extra salary, it does not give you any additional tuition credits.

Zero-credit registration

You might want to register for zero credits if either (1) you are already at the total needed for your program, so have no tuition credits left, or (2) there are no courses offered in a given semester that you want to take. In this case you should register for GRD 998.

You could also register for MAT 999 (Dissertation Research) if you are engaged in your dissertation research, but should not register for more than a total of 30 credits over the course of your studies here.

All graduate students holding a fellowship, assistantship, or a full-tuition scholarship in a given semester will be considered full-time students for that semester by virtue of their holding that award. There is no minimum number of credits for which they must register in order to attain full-time status; however, those not registering for credit-bearing courses or thesis/dissertation credits must register for GRD 998 (“degree in progress”) for zero credits.

Special circumstances

If you carry fewer than 12 credit hours without holding an assistantship and need to be certified as a full-time student, please see Julie O’Connor.

Important: If you have completed all your degree requirements but wish to take a course after that completion date, be sure to speak with Julie O’Connor before completing your Diploma Request on MySlice.

Travel support

The department has funds for travel (see also job search support). In recent years nearly every request for travel funds has been met. All requests for travel support have to be approved by the Department Chair. On the Forms page you can find a copy of the Travel Grant Proposal and instructions. See Julie O’Connor for details.

The graduate school also provides limited funds.

Miscellaneous advice

Independent study

If you are interested in a topic not covered by the regular courses, consider Independent Study (MAT 690). The format varies, but usually involves you reading a book or a paper on your own and discussing it with the professor in charge of the course. Hence, you will need to find a professor willing to do this. Together with the professor you fill out the Proposal for Independent Study (see Academic Forms) and submit it to the Registrar’s office by the Add deadline. After a little while MAT 690 will appear on your MySlice schedule. The course carries elective credit (typically 3 credits).


Graduate students supported by either Fellowship or TAship are eligible to audit courses during Fall and Spring (not summer) at no additional charge (“Graduate awards information” link on the right). Audit earns no credit and fulfills no requirements. It may be a useful option for students who would like to participate in a course but do not have enough time or background knowledge to do all homework and exams. Students who audit a course appear on the roster, which means they receive classroster email, have access to Blackboard materials, etc.

Coffee Time

Twice a week, faculty and graduate students gather to enjoy coffee/cookies and socialize. Be there.

MGO Colloquium

Unless you have a time conflict, you should attend every MGO Colloquium. The talks are short and more accessible than a typical seminar. You should consider speaking there as well, to share any neat math you learned in an advanced undergrad course or read on your own.

Departmental Colloquium

Most of our colloquia are given by mathematicians from outside SU, who (attempt to) present a mostly accessible overview of the subject of their interest, including their contributions to it. Traditionally, they are more elementary at the beginning. You may or may not understand much of the second half, but the effort to understand an advanced concept is of its own benefit.


Some of our research groups run regular seminars. Your attendance will correlate with your interest in the field.