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A Two-Phase Program
The BMS offers an English PhD program. Its purpose is to provide a broad and deep graduate education whose structure is compatible with international standards and thus attracts excellent students from around the world. It is designed to combine the traditional strengths of the German graduate education with the format of successful US graduate schools.
The BMS study program has two phases. Students with a Bachelor's degree start with Phase I. Admission to Phase II is either upon successful completion of Phase I or with a Master's degree or equivalent e.g., German Diplom.
The purpose of the three-semester Phase I study program is to provide all BMS students with an excellent and broad mathematics graduate education, and thus with a secure basis for their own thesis research work. The program of this phase consists of basic courses giving a broad view of mathematics, and first advanced courses including seminar courses, which provide in-depth background in various areas of specialization and thus prepare students for their future thesis research.
The core offering of the BMS Phase I study program consists of 16 one-semester basic courses, two or three for each of the seven teaching areas. The requirement for admission to the Qualifying Exam is the successful completion of five basic courses, including courses from at least three different BMS teaching areas, and two advanced courses: one lecture course of four hours per week (or two of two hours per week) and one seminar.
The coursework is typically completed within the first three semesters, leaving time in the fourth semester for a possible master's thesis and the BMS Qualifying Exam.
The Qualifying Exam will be oral and conducted by at least two examiners from the BMS faculty. Two-thirds of the BMS Qualifying Exam is devoted to the student's intended area of research. This could cover eight semester-hours of coursework, for instance one Basic Course and one Advanced Course, but usually goes somewhat beyond standard coursework. In the case that the student is working on or has completed a master's thesis, this part of the Qualifying Exam usually covers the contents of that thesis, and can even take the form of a thesis defense. The final third of the BMS Qualifying Exam is devoted to an unrelated topic, typically the contents of a BMS Basic Course. Since the BMS Areas overlap to some extent, to ensure the desired breadth it is necessary but not sufficient that this course be from a different BMS Area. Passing the Qualifying Exam will assert that the student has reached a sufficient level of general and specialized training to begin high-level research in the chosen area of mathematics.
The Phase II study program, the research phase, has a maximum duration of six semesters. During this phase, students work on their specific thesis projects. Many of them will be integrated into one of the Berlin RTGs, CRCs or IMPRSs. In addition, students in the research phase are offered further advanced courses and special lecture series, some of them organized by the RTGs, CRCs and IMPRSs. Phase II students will also be given the opportunity to gain teaching experience as tutors for basic courses in Phase I. The final examinations will be carried out according to the regulations of the university that confers the PhD degree.
To design and monitor the study program, each student will have a member of the BMS faculty assigned to him or her as a mentor. The mentor will be independent of the thesis supervisor. The thesis supervisor will provide support in all aspects relating to the dissertation, including advice on choosing the right conferences and publishing articles. The separate mentor gives the student advice and feedback, and can help resolve problems and provides non-scientific advice.
On every second Friday during semester time, the Friday colloquia of BMS represent a common meeting point for Berlin mathematics: a colloquium with broad emanation that permits an overview of large-scale connections and insights. The conversation is about "mathematics as a whole," and mathematical breakthroughs are discussed. So far, two Field medalists presented their work. At the lunches prior to the "Sonia Kovalevskaya Colloquia" female students have a chance to discuss the career paths of successful women in mathematics.
In addition, the BMS offers annual Summer Schools, which rotate among the participating universities and have a different focus each year.