
Graduate Program: Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to questions commonly asked by current and future
ETSU math graduate students. The questions and answers are broken into the
following categories:
 Mathematics or Statistics?
 Application
Process
 Program
Requirements
 Financial Aid
and Assistantships
 International
Students
 Thesis and
Graduation
MATHEMATICS OR STATISTICS?
 Does the ETSU program provide a degree in mathematics or in statistics?
This is a program in mathematics, not statistics. The core consists of pure math classes (in particular, the Real Analysis 1 class which has a prerequisite of one year of senior level analysis corresponding to ETSU's Analysis 1 and 2 [MATH 4217/5217 and 4227/5227]). You may take classes in statistics and do thesis work in statistics, but this is a degree in "mathematical sciences" and you will take pure math classes while in the program and so will need some background in pure math before entering the program (such as a course in introduction to proof techniques, corresponding to ETSU's Mathematical Reasoning [MATH 3000]).
APPLICATION PROCESS
 What background do I need for admission to the Math Department's
masters program?
The only formal requirements are: (1) a bachelor's
degree in mathematics or in a related area, with (2) an undergraduate grade
point average of 2.5 or better (on a four point scale) for domestic applicants and 3.0 or better for international applicants, (3) 3 letters of
recommendation, and (4) general GRE scores. From a practical point of view,
you should have taken classes in calculus, linear algebra, differential
equations, and proof techniques. An exposure to Real
Analysis is also desirable. If you lack some of this background, then you may
be "conditionally admitted" into our program. You would then be required to
take appropriate remedial classes. In fact, you can take Introduction to
Modern Algebra (MATH 4127/5127) and Analysis (MATH 4217/5217 and 4227/5227)
for graduate credit.
 Do I have to take any standardized tests?
Yes. Effective Fall
2003, you must take the general part of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
However, you don't have to take the subject test. International students must
take the TOEFL test (unless their native language is English) see FAQs for
international students below.
 In addition to the graduate application and GRE scores, what else must
I submit for admission?
See the School of Graduate Studies webpage for the application fee. The
Graduate School also requires (1) official transcripts of all previous
undergraduate and graduate work, except previous coursework taken at ETSU and
(2) a personal essay addressing your areas of interest in graduate school,
especially your proposed field of study, abilities or strengths you bring to
the program, and your career objectives. You also need to submit three letters
of recommendation.
 What is "provisional admission?"
Often times, an applicant may
not have sufficient mathematical background to begin graduate study. In this
situation, the applicant is "provisionally admitted" and required to make up
the background work as soon as possible. The most common reason for
conditional admission is an insufficient background in real analysis (you need
the equivalent of our Analysis 1 and 2 classes  MATH 4217/5215 and
4227/5227).
PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
 How many hours must I take? How many hours of thesis?
A minimum
of 30 semester hours of credit is required for a degree. No less than 3 credit
hours nor more than 6 credit hours of Thesis (MATH 5960) may be applied to the
30 hour total (see the Graduate Catalog for details).
 Are there required "core courses?"
Yes! You must take Real
Analysis 1 (MATH 5210) and Modern Algebra 1 (MATH 5410). If a student does thesis work with one of the departmental statisticians then a substitution of Mathematical Statistics I (STAT 5047) and Statistical Methods I (STAT 5710) for Modern Algebra I (MATH 5410) may be approved.
You must take at least one twocourse sequence (see the Graduate Catalog for
examples).
 Is there any sort of "entrance exam?"
Yes, in a sense. You are
required to pass two comprehensive exams: one in calculus and one in linear
algebra. The purpose of these exams is to force you to review undergraduate
material so that the material is fresh in your mind. In this way, graduate
classes based on this background (such as analysis, applied math, and
statistics) can go more smoothly. These exams are each offered twice every
Fall and Spring semester and once during Summer. You should take these exams
as soon as possible (preferably during your first semester). You must take at
least one exam each time they are offered (during the Fall and Spring) until
you have passed both exams. A grade of B or better (83% or better) is required
to pass. It is important that you pass these exams early on, since you may not
register for Thesis (MATH 5960) until you have passed both tests. For sample
tests and study guides, see here.
 The graduate catalog lists "colisted" and "graduate only" classes.
What is the difference and may I take classes from both of these
categories?
Classes colisted may be taken by both undergraduates and
graduates  they are numbered 4xy7/5xy7. Graduates and undergraduates sit in
the same class, but graduate students have additional requirements beyond that
of the undergraduates (to be determined by the instructor). You may count up
to 9 hours of these cross listed classes towards the required 30 hours for
your master's degree. You may take more than 9 hours of cross listed classes
(and you may have to if you need to do more remediation), but only 9 hours
will count.
 What are the classes "Supervised Teaching," "Supervised Research," and
"Supervised Administration"?
The classes "Supervised Teaching" (MATH
5019), "Supervised Research" (MATH 5029), and "Supervised Administration"
(MATH 5039) are 1 credit hour classes intended for math graduate students on
assistantships (who are expected to take one of these per semester). In
particular, students preparing for teaching associate positions during their
second year of graduate school, should register for Supervised Teaching (MATH
5019). These classes do not count towards the 30 hours of required
credit for the master's degree.
FINANCIAL AID AND ASSISTANTSHIPS
 What types of financial assistance are available?
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics offers tuition scholarships and several types of assistantships. The stipend for the assistantships range from $8,000 to $9,800 for an academic year. There are four 12month assistantships which pay $11,000. Tuition scholarships and assistantships come with a tuition waiver for the period of the scholarship/assistantship.
Tuition Scholarships are available to first semester graduate students only
(but may be renewed), cover tuition, and require the student to work 8 hours
per week. Teaching Assistants are required to work 20 hours per week.
Graduate Assistants who have successfully completed 18 hours of graduate study may have the opportunity to teach their own class.
Preference for assignment to an assistantship is given to those applicants with GRE scores at or above the 50th percentile in the quantitative, verbal, and writing categories.
Contact the graduate coordinator for more details on available positions.
 What are the requirements to keep a scholarship or assistantship?
Students must register for at least 9 hours per Fall and Spring semester,
and 3 hours per supported summer term. Students on Math Department support
must not be employed elsewhere on campus, unless special permission is given.
A minimum grade point average of 3.00 must be maintained. You must also register for the 1 hour class Supervised Teaching (MATH 5019) in order to keep your assistantship (this is a rule of the School of Graduate Studies  the class does not count towards the required 30 hours for the degree).
 How do I apply for an assistantship or tuition scholarship?
Once you are admitted to the program, you are automatically under consideration for an assistantship or tuition scholarship.
 What other fees am I responsible for?
As a holder of an
assistantship or a tuition scholarship, you are responsible for debt service,
a post office box fee, technology fee, and Student Government Association
(SGA) fees. These fees total around $1,000 (based on fall 2019).
You also must pay for your books and related supplies.
 How long may I hold an assistantship?
The standard length of
time a student may hold an assistantship is 2 years. Under extraordinary
conditions, an assistantship may be renewed for one semester beyond the two
year period.
 As a recipient of financial aid, how am I evaluated?
At the end
of each academic year, the Math Graduate Coordinator will fill out a
Graduate Assistant/Tuition Scholarship Performance Appraisal form (a
copy is available
here). The coordinator may elicit input from other department members (such as the CFAA Director and the Department Chair) when filling out these forms.
 When is payday?
Assuming all paperwork is processed on time
(usually by the 10th day of the first month of work), assistantship paychecks
are distributed on the last working day of the month. A Fall
semester assistantship will pay 4 paychecks, one for each of the months
September, October, November, and December. A Spring semester assistantship
will pay 4 paychecks, one for each of the months January, February, March, and
April.
 What forms does a graduate assistant need to complete in order to be
processed for payroll?
Domestic students must submit: a current ETSU
Employment Application, an I9 form with copies of your social security card,
a W4 card, and an approved graduate assistant contract. International
students must complete these forms along with: an international
employee/student tax status questionnaire, a copy of a current foreign
passport, employment authorization forms (I20 and I94), and any applicable
tax treaties and statements. These forms are available in the Human Resources office and online here. International
students should contact the International Student Advisor, Maria Costa
(email: costa@etsu.edu) of the Office of International Programs
for help.
 Can I get my paychecks directly deposited into my bank account?
Yes  in fact, effective January 1, 1998 direct deposit must be
used by all newly hired employees and reappointments except for students and
temporaries. This includes regular fulltime, regular parttime, adjuncts,
graduate assistants and residents. An Authorization for Direct Deposit of
Pay form can be obtained from the Payroll Office.
 How many hours must I register for to keep my financial support?
You must register for at least 9 graduate hours per Fall and Spring
semester. If you are on summer support, then you must register for 3 hours per
summer term. The exception to this rule is that if you are in your last (Fall
or Spring) semester, then you may register for only 6 hours, provided that you
have filed an Intent to Graduate form (see the School of Graduate Studies "Forms" webpage).
 If I am a nonmath graduate student, am I still
eligible for a math graduate assistantship or tuition scholarship?
Yes! However, you must realize that the priority of the Math Department is
to fund and assist math graduate students. After this has been done, and if
there are still positions, then you may be considered for such a position.
Even then, though, you will be expected to have the ability to tutor
introductory statistics and freshman level calculus. As a consequence,
nonmath graduate students will not be considered for scholarships or
assistantships until the very last minute.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
 As an International student, what paperwork must I do and who should I
contact for help with this?
You must have a passport and visa. These
are obtained from your government and the U.S. embassy in your country
(respectively). Maria Costa (costa@etsu.edu) of the ETSU Office of International Programs
can help you with additional paperwork, such as the I20.
 As an international student, what is the deadline for my application
materials?
Effective academic 201920: International student application materials should be
received by: April 30  fall semester; September 30  spring semester; February 1 
summer session. The School of Graduate Studies must be notified of any change
in the entering date after admission has been granted... International
students admitted to graduate study are encouraged to arrive on campus two
weeks prior to the beginning of classes and should contact the Office of
International Programs as soon as they arrive.
 What tests on the English language must I take?
You must take
the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and score 550 or better on
the paper version, or 213 or better on the computerbased version. Once in our
program, you must take the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) during the first
two weeks of classes of your first term. Contact Dr. Yousif Elhindi (email:elhindi@etsu.edu, phone 4234395992) of
the ETSU English Department for
details on taking the test.
 How does my performance on the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) affect
my assistantship duties?
The Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) is a
test of assessment developed by the American Council on the Teaching of
Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Your performance on the OPI will determine the
level at which you may interact with ETSU students in fulfilling your
assistantship duties. You may have (1) "High Contact" in which you are solely
responsible for teaching a class, (2) "Medium Contact" in which you may run
study sessions, teach labs, or tutor, and (3) "Low Contact" in which your
duties will involve assisting an instructor with paperwork or research, or
working in a computer lab. The category of contact is determined from you OPI
score as follows:
CONTACT 
OPI RATING 
High Contact 
Superior or AdvancedHigh 
Medium Contact 
Advanced or IntermediateHigh 
Low Contact 
Intermediate and Below 
 From which countries have you had international students in your
program?
The ETSU math masters program has had students
from China, India, Vietnam, Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nepal, Ukraine, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
 As an international student, are there any insurance requirements?
Quoting from the ETSU Graduate Catalog: "All international students are required to have acceptable
insurance coverage against illness and accidents. The health and accident
insurance must be maintained throughout the student's enrollment at ETSU." All
international students must purchase the health insurance at ETSU, unless they
have a scholarship that purchases health insurance for them. Information
regarding health insurance is sent with the I20 and it is recommended that
you do not purchase coverage at home, unless you are certain that ETSU can
accept it. For details, see the ETSU Health Insurance webpage.
 As an international student, must I have some demonstrated financial
resources?
Documented evidence of financial resources sufficient to support the student is required. The amount as of 2018 is around $46,000 U.S. For details, see the International Programs'
estimated expenses webpage.
Financial documentation may include any documentation of tuition scholarship, graduate assistantship,
personal funds, etc.
THESIS AND GRADUATION
 What steps must I follow to graduate and what forms must I
complete?
A checklist of steps are contained in the Checklist for
Math Graduate Students available on the web in PDF form here. All School of Graduate Studies forms can be found on the Graduate School webpage. The general steps are:
 Pass "Calculus Comprehensive Exam" (for a study guide and sample tests,
go here).
 Pass "Linear Algebra Comprehensive Exam" (for a study guide and sample
tests, go here).
 File "Program of Study" form with Graduate Coordinator (should be done
on or before completion of 12 hours).
 Pass Analysis I (MATH 5210).
 Pass Algebra I (MATH 5410) or Statistical Methods I (STAT 5710).
 Take an approved sequence.
 File the "Appointment of an Advisory Committee'' form (in your 3rd
semester).
 File "Preliminary Thesis Presentation" form with Graduate Coordinator,
available here.
 File "Application for Candidacy" form with Graduate School with a copy
to the Graduate Coordinator.
 File "Notice of Intention to Graduate" form with Graduate School with a
copy to the Graduate Coordinator.
 File "Memorandum of Oral Defense" form with Graduate School with a copy
to the Graduate Coordinator.
 File "Results of Examination  Thesis Defense" form with Graduate
School, with a copy to the Graduate Coordinator.
 Deal with the creation of an electronic version of your thesis.
 Must I write a thesis? Traditionally, how long is a math thesis? Must
the thesis contain original research results?
Every successful Math
Department masters student must write a thesis! The nonthesis masters degree
was eliminated in the early 1990's. The length of the thesis is not as
important as the content of it. Theses with original research results tend to
be shorter (say 2540 pages). However, not all theses contain original
research. Students sometimes survey a particular research problem without
contributing new results. These types of theses tend to be somewhat longer
(say 4060 pages). The topic, content, and length of the thesis are up to the
student, the thesis advisor, and the thesis committee.
 When should I submit a program of study?
From a practical point
of view, it is a good idea to talk with the Math Graduate Coordinator and
prepare a "pencilled in" version of the Program of Study during your second
semester. By your third semester, you should have your Program of Study pretty
much finalized. The scheduling of classes, though not set in stone, is layed
out according to the plan described in the ETSU Math Department Class
Offerings, Even and Odd Years document (available in PDF form here)  this
schedule should be helpful in planning for future classes to take.
 Which classes should I list on my Program of Study?
The Program
of Study is only for the coursework you wish to use to fulfill the
requirements of the program. You may take as many classes as you like, but the
Program of Study should only include a list of 30 hours.
 When should I select a thesis advisor and committee?
From the
beginning of your graduate studies, you should be thinking about which classes
appeal to you most and which area you would like to explore in your thesis.
Your area of interest will determine who should be on your thesis committee. By the beginning of
your third semester, you should have some idea of the area in which you want
to do your thesis work. During (or before) your third semester, you should
file your Program of Study and Thesis Committee forms.
In order to finish in the preferred two year time frame, you must have your
thesis well under way during your fourth semester (the deadline for defending
the thesis is around November 1 for Fall and March 20 for Spring).
 Must my committee consist exclusively of Math Department members?
No. Your committee must consist of members of the graduate faculty, but
they may be from other departments. Your committee should include members of
the Math Department and your thesis advisor should be a member of the Math
Department (although previous students have had two "cochairs" of their thesis
committee, one of which was not a member of the Math Department).
 How many people should serve on my thesis committee?
You must
have at least three graduate faculty members on your committee (a chair and
two members)  this is the most common situation. You may have four members,
but more than four members is uncommon.
 Can I change my thesis committee?
Yes, if there is a good
reason (such as unavailability of a committee member), then you may change
your committee by filing a Application for Change in Graduate Advisory
Committee form.
 Once I have chosen a thesis topic with my advisor, do I just start on
the research?
Not exactly. You need to meet with your thesis committee
and give a preliminary presentation of your thesis topic. In this way, the
committee knows what you are working on and can critique the topic before you
get too involved in the work. After the preliminary presentation, you should
complete a Preliminary Presentation form (available in PDF form at here) and
submit it to the Math Graduate Coordinator.
 If I fail to finish my work the term listed on my "Intent to Graduate"
form, then what paperwork must I do?
You should contact the School of
Graduate Studies and tell them that you will not be graduating on the
predicted time, and you need to file an updated "Intent to Graduate" form.
 Do I have to register for classes if I have completed the required
hours, but have not finished the thesis?
Yes. You should register for
Readings and Research (MATH 5990) until you have finished (you MUST be
registered the term you graduate). MATH 5990 cannot be counted towards the 30
required hours, though.
 What word processing software should I use to write my thesis?
There is no required software package, but you are strongly, STRONGLY,
STRONGLY (get it?) encouraged to use the software package
LaTeX. This is the "industry standard" for typesetting mathematics  it is
used by textbook publishers, research journals, and mathematicians worldwide.
Though a bit different from other typesetting software (such as Word and
WordPerfect), it is much less frustrating and much more efficient to use in
typesetting mathematical symbols and formulae.
 If I use LaTeX, can I easily conform to the Graduate School's required
thesis format?
Absolutely! A sample LaTeX thesis file is available for
downloaded (with input from Jason Lachniet, ETSU math masters graduate 2007, and Haley Russell, ETSU math masters graduate 2018):
thesistemplate2018.tex.
You may download this file and edit it as you like. In fact, once you have
learned LaTeX syntax and typed your chapters, your thesis becomes a "fill in
the blank" task! Just paste your chapters in the sample file, insert committee
member names and a few other details, and LaTeX will do the rest! You also
need the etsu_thesis.cls.txt
file. Download it and save it as "etsu_thesis.cls" (DON'T OMIT THIS STEP!!!)
in the same directory as the template file.
 Once my thesis is in LaTeX (or other typesetting software) and is
approved by my committee, am I finished?
No! Your thesis must be
converted into PDF format and approved by the Graduate School. A checklist of
steps to Graduate School approval is available here.
If your thesis is in LaTeX form, then it is easily converted to PDF form.
This webpage is maintained by Bob Gardner (gardnerr@etsu.edu). Last updated:
September 14, 2021.



