Phase I Study Regulations and Master’s degree

Please read the BMS Study Regulations for details on the BMS Phase I requirements.

All Phase I students are matched with a Phase I advisor (a member of the BMS Faculty) after their admission on the basis of their academic interests. All Phase I students are enrolled as master students in mathematics at FU, HU or TU. The university affiliation is determined by their advisor choice. This is done in the hope that the student will find the right research group for their PhD at this university, however, a change of advisor or university affiliation during or after Phase I is not uncommon and should not be an issue. This should, however, always be discussed with the BMS office as early as possible. All Phase I students are recommended to complete the master’s degree in mathematics at FU, HU or TU parallel to completing their BMS Phase I studies. In most cases, all Phase I courses count towards your master’s degree so you simply need to add one or two more courses to your study plan and write a master’s thesis at the end to complete the degree as well as Phase I.

1st semester:
• Attend three to four different basic courses and find your (mathematical) passion.
2nd semester:
• Attend one or two basic courses.
• Attend an advanced course in your chosen field of passion to get more info.
3rd semester:
• Talk to potential master thesis advisors.
• Attend more advanced courses to prepare for your master's thesis.
4th semester:
• Meet with your BMS Liaison Officer to discuss your plans for the future.
• Write your master's thesis.
• Plan your BMS Qualifying Exam (QE).
• Meet with your master thesis advisor and/or other potential PhD supervisors to discuss your options for a PhD.
• Apply for Phase II Funding (or possibly Gap Funding).

It is your responsibility to find a master's thesis advisor and a PhD supervisor but you can ask for recommendations from the BMS staff or BMS faculty.
It should be the PhD supervisor’s responsibility to organize Phase II funding in the form of a PhD position or scholarship. If they do not have funding available, they should advise you on applying for a BMS Phase II scholarship, another project (e.g. a MATH+ project) or other available scholarships. Please be aware that the number of BMS Phase II scholarships is very limited.

Master Study Regulations

The BMS gives an overview of the master study regulations for Mathematics at FU, HU and TU during the orientation week. After this, it is your responsibility to clarify any questions you might have about the study regulations and reading through the provided links in the presentation. You may contact the student counsel office of your respective university (each major has their own counsel office) so you can get answers to any specific questions. You can also contact your BMS Liaison Officer to help you sort your Phase I courses into the university modules. You will need to keep in mind the regulations when choosing your courses every semester. If you are uncertain you should check with your Phase I advisor or BMS Liaison Officer at the start/ end of each semester to make sure that your course plan works for the BMS Phase I study regulations and your master’s degree.

Qualifying Exam

To complete Phase I and move on to Phase II, all BMS students must pass the BMS Qualifying Exam with a total grade better than 2.5. The BMS Qualifying Exam is a 90 minute oral exam with three examiners from the BMS Faculty. One examiner may be from the BMS postdoctoral faculty. 60 minutes (two thirds) of your exam should be spent on your field of concentration. This may be your master’s thesis defense (30 minute presentation plus 30 minute discussion) or you may choose two courses that align with your research interests. The third part (the final 30 minutes) should be spent on an unrelated topic, e.g. a BMS Basic Course from a different Research Training Area. Your final QE grade will be the unweighted average of all three parts.

  1. If you are ready to take your QE (ideally in the 4th semester), you must email your Liaison Officer and send them a list of your final five basic courses and two advanced courses that fulfill the BMS Phase I study regulations. If not already done, please also send your Liaison Officer your university transcript of records as proof of your grades.
  2. The Liaison Officer will then send you the QE application form which will list your Phase I courses, QE examiners and details of the three parts of the QE. After you have submitted the completed QE application form to your Liaison Officer, they will approve your application or, if necessary, clarify any issues with the BMS Chair.
  3. After your QE application is approved, you need to organize the date, time and location of your QE with your examiners. If the university regulations do not allow in person exams (e.g. due to an ongoing pandemic), it may take place online. If it is online, you will have to set up the meeting link. If it is in person, you can ask the BMS staff to use one of their seminar rooms or the examiners can organize a room (usually each professor has a seminar room close to their office).
  4. At last, you must inform your Liaison Officer of the date, time and place and they will send an official invitation email to all the examiners and you at the latest one week before the QE.

Master’s thesis and defense

As mentioned above, you do not have to complete a master’s degree to complete Phase I and your Phase I advisor does not have to be your master’s thesis advisor if you choose to write one. However, the BMS strongly recommends all Phase I students to complete their master’s degree at FU, HU or TU and has ideally matched you with your Phase I advisor so well that they can become your master’s thesis advisor. If you choose a master’s thesis advisor who is appointed at a different university than the one you are enrolled at, you will need to switch enrollments. Ideally, this is already planned in the 2nd semester so you can be enrolled at the university at which you will be completing your master’s degree in the 3rd semester. Therefore, you must inform your Liaison Officer of a planned switch as early as possible so you do not miss any enrollment deadlines. It is your responsibility to make sure that you register for the master’s thesis at the head of the exams office in due time. You must work on your master’s thesis at least three months after the registration date before you may submit it (the exact time may vary between the universities). Before the defense can be scheduled, the written thesis must be examined and graded by your thesis advisor.

If you have already lined up a PhD position for Phase II, you must complete your master’s degree before you can start the position. It is therefore most important that you plan ahead and are aware of all deadlines and regulations.