Master's Exam Policy

Sign up for Fall 2021 Master's Exam will be announced on this page. Old MS exams and other exam materials are available via this Google Drive folder . You will need to be logged in with your Portland State University ODIN account to access the sign up form and the folder. 

Examinations are given in following subject areas:

  1. Algebra
  2. Analysis
  3. Geometry
  4. Numerical Methods
  5. Ordinary Differential Equations
  6. Partial Differential Equations
  7. Set Theory/Topology
  8. Applied Statistics
  9. Mathematical Statistics

Each area examination is based upon a syllabus prepared by the faculty. Each exam is supported by 300 and/or 500-level courses in the topic area. Syllabi and the last six previously given examinations for each topic will be made available to students.

Examinations are given twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. The fall examinations are offered during the week prior to the start of fall term and the spring examinations are offered during the first week of spring term. It is possible for students to sign up for examinations up to the Monday, three weeks before exam week. Students may cancel sign-ups for master’s exams up to the Monday before exam week by emailing Constance Lague, Specific sign up and cancellation deadline dates will be announced by the department at the beginning of the sign up period. Students are required to bring a PSU photo ID card to the exam.

For the MA/MS in Mathematics: Students following degree Option A. must pass one master's exam in either Algebra or Analysis (and complete 501 project). Students following degree Option B. must pass two master’s exams, one of which must be in either Algebra or Analysis. The student chooses the other subject area for their second exam and may select any subject from the above list except for Applied Statistics.

For the MS in Statistics: Both the Mathematical Statistics and Applied Statistics exams are required (see Additional Information for the MS Statistics Exams at the end of this policy).

For dual degrees in MA/MS Mathematics and MS Statistics: Master's exams and 501 projects may not be shared between master's degrees. Please see the Graduate School's policy on dual master's degrees for more information.

For the PhD in Mathematical Sciences: Students who entered the PhD program without a master's degree in mathematics or statistics from Portland State University must pass two exams in any topic of their choosing. If a student plans on earning the MA/MS Mathematics or MS Statistics degree while earning the PhD, the student must choose the exam topics required for the corresponding master's degree.

At each examination period, in the Fall or in the Spring Terms, a student can take either one or two examinations.

A given subject area examination can be taken by a student at most two times. An exam cancellation after the deadline, or not cancelled at all, still counts as one of the two allowed attempts.

For each examination, a student will receive a Pass, a Conditional Pass, or a No Pass (Fail).  Students who receive a Conditional Pass in an examination will have four weeks from the notification date to work with the examination committee to remove the conditions needed to receive a Pass.

Students are encouraged to take examinations early in their graduate program. Most students should be able to plan their programs so that they are able to take these examinations during their first or second year.

Students must be registered for and complete at least one graduate credit hour for the term in which they intend to take an examination. Students taking the fall examination must be registered for fall term, and those taking the spring examination must be registered for spring term.

Students requiring special testing accommodations must arrange them through the Disability Resource Center, 503-725-4150, SMSU room 116,

Additional Information for the MS Statistics Exams

Students must pass two examinations, one in Mathematical Statistics which covers material from STAT 561, 562, 563, and one in Applied Statistics which includes the core topics covered in STAT 564, 565, 566.  For clarity, the grading policy for the master’s exam in Applied Statistics is listed below.

Grading Policy for the Master’s Exam in Applied Statistics 

The Applied Statistics Exam is comprised of two components:

 Applied regression analysis
 Design of experiments and ANOVA

Each of the two components consists of a written exam portion and a separate, in-laboratory, statistical computing applications portion.  The Applied Statistics Exam may be repeated once; that is, a maximum of two tries is permitted. 

Grading Policy: Pass (P) or Fail (F) is given on both components. 


Two P’s equal a PASS on the exam.

One P equals a CONDITIONAL PASS on the exam.  The student should contact the Examination Committee to discuss the requirements for removal of the Conditional.

No P's equal a FAIL on the exam. In this case the entire exam must be retaken.

PhD in Mathematical Sciences Qualifying examinations

These exams are intended to verify that the student has the prerequisites for high-level mathematical courses and also to verify that the student has the basic capabilities and interest in mathematical research. This examination consists of two Master’s level written examinations offered in the Fariborz Maseeh Department of Mathematics and Statistics, as well as defending a Math501/Stat501 Mathematical/Statistical Literature and Problems course. In both cases, this course consists of reading critically a research article and presenting it in writing as well as orally in front of a mathematically literate audience. The qualifying examinations are to be completed before the end of the second year after enrollment in the program, so that the student may engage early-on in the study of higher level mathematics and in research.


updated July 2020