Before admission to candidacy for the Ph.D., students must submit a qualifying portfolio that will be evaluated by a candidacy committee. The portfolio can be submitted to the committee after all core coursework and the three research seminars have been completed, as well as any additional preparatory coursework recommended by the admissions committee and at least one systems research project (SYSM 697 Systems Research).

  • project work from courses taken as part of the program;
  • all writing samples from the research seminars;
  • products from the systems research courses;
  • statements from the faculty they have worked with.

The candidacy committee will consist of three faculty members from the Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research and the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. The candidacy committee will evaluate the students’ readiness to begin their dissertation work in the following four areas:

  • a base of fundamental knowledge and strength in theory to perform research from a sound theoretical and functional perspective;
  • a base of fundamental knowledge and strength in theory to create models of systems in the field;
  • ability to perform mathematical or computational work in the field; and
  • ability and readiness to perform independent research.

The committee will then determine an appropriate set of qualifying exams covering the mathematical and computational knowledge critical to success in research in the chosen field of research. Three decisions are possible at this point:

  • admission to candidacy;
  • specified remedial course work and one more chance to submit a revised qualifying portfolio and retake the qualifying exams;
  • rejection and removal from the program.

If rejected, the student will be in a strong position to complete a master’s degree in mathematical sciences at VCU.

Once the qualifying portfolio has been passed, the student must complete all additional required coursework. They are then ready to begin their dissertation.