PhD Milestone Procedures

Recommended Procedures

For the Applications for Doctoral Milestones

Department of Mathematical Sciences
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

(Version of February 2015)

Graduate Program Forms

Now that the doctoral milestone system has moved online, the following procedures will help facilitate the milestone process. For graduate school policies, visit 

  1. Preliminary Exam. When you are sufficiently prepared – normally you have earned 24 credits in specific areas above the 700 level math courses, take these steps to schedule and complete your preliminary exam:
    1. Form your exam committee. Choose three faculty members representing three (3) different fields from these five (5) fields: algebra, analysis, applied mathematics, probability and statistics, and topology. The Associate Chair for Graduate Program must approve both the selected fields and the committee members. Your preliminary exam committee members are usually the faculty members from whom you took the corresponding courses.
    2. After your examination areas and committee have been approved, schedule your preliminary exam with your committee members and apply for the preliminary exam online using the doctoral milestone system.
    3. Reserve a room for the exam through the departmental online room request system. You should schedule your preliminary exam for two (2) hours and make room reservation Normally, a preliminary exam takes an hour and thirty minutes to two hours to complete.
    4. Print the Departmental PhD Preliminary Exam Form and take it to the exam. The Departmental PhD Preliminary Exam Form is for our department’s record and will not be sent to the graduate
  2. Proposal Hearing. When you are ready (to be decided by you and your PhD dissertation adviser), take these steps:
    1. Form your proposal hearing committee and schedule your proposal hearing with the committee.  Work with your adviser to select your proposal hearing committee members and obtain the approval from the Associate Chair for Graduate Program. Our Department requires  that you form a proposal hearing committee with five (5) graduate faculty members with at least one member outside your dissertation field. Note the difference here with the statement in the graduate school webpage “the committee must have at least three UWM graduate faculty members, including your chosen major professor”. Here, the departmental policy is consistent with the graduate school policy and it supersedes the statement there.
    2. Start the online application for your proposal hearing through the doctoral milestone system.  Reserve a room (for two hours) for your proposal hearing through the departmental online room request system.
    3. Fill in and print the Departmental PhD Proposal Hearing Form and take it to your proposal hearing.
    4. After your proposal hearing, return the Departmental PhD Proposal Hearing Form to the Associate Chair for Graduate Program.
  3. Apply for Dissertator Status. To become a dissertator, you must have:
    1. your PhD candidacy in place (have passed your preliminary exam),
    2. satisfied the course requirements for both the primary field and the secondary field – this requires careful planning well ahead of time,
    3. satisfied the Computer Proficiency Requirement, and
    4. passed your proposal
  4. Check these with the Associate Chair for the Graduate Program. Usually you can start your dissertator status application through the PhD milestone system after your proposal hearing has been approved by your committee. Note that
    1. If you are a teaching assistant, your pay will increase significantly after you become a dissertator. You can attain dissertator educational status at any point during the semester. However, in order to be paid at dissertator rate during the semester, you must achieve dissertator status on or before the Registrar’s add deadline. There are two cases:
      1. You can attain dissertator status by the first contractual date as defined by the published academic year calendar of the semester, then you will be paid at the dissertator rate at the beginning of the semester.
      2. You can attain dissertator status between the contractual date and the Registrar’s add deadline, then you will be paid the dissertator rate starting with the first payroll period after the add deadline.
    2. It is a graduate school policy that after you become a dissertator, you will need to (and can only) register for three (3) credits of reading and research (Math-990). You will not be able to take other classes.  For details on the dissertator policy, including the continuous registration requirement, visit
      Our Department has a partial exemption to the three credit rule: as dissertator, you may take one three (3) credits 900-level course in your field plus one (1) credit of Math-990.
  5. Apply for Dissertation Defense and Graduation The procedure for this milestone step is detailed at the graduate school web page at
    Note that

    1. The graduate school sends out emails to remind all UWM graduate students the deadlines for application for graduation, thesis defense, and thesis submission (to the graduate school), before each semester starts.
    2. If any of the deadlines are not met, you must apply and graduate in the next semester.  You will not be required to register for the next semester if the dissertation has been defended, passed, and accepted by the Graduate School before the first day of classes for the next semester. The date of graduation, however, will be the next semester.
  6. If your concentration is one of Actuarial Science, Applied Mathematics, or Statistics, you will need to complete the corresponding forms. See the Concentration Verification of Completion forms:
    1. Verification – Actuarial Science
    2. Verification – Applied Mathematics
    3. Verification – Statistics

When you and your committee have selected a defense date you must reserve a room for the defense through the departmental online room request system. You must include your adviser’s name, defense title, and an abstract (for our departmental announcement) with your room request. You should schedule your dissertation defense for two (2) hours and make the room reservation accordingly.