Applied Mathematics for the Life and Social Sciences PhD

This doctoral degree is specially designed for students who want to make innovative and far-reaching scientific contributions to the global challenges of our time, yet also move beyond conventional disciplinary boundaries. Unique advantages of this program versus other leading universities includes:

1. A faculty body composed of mathematicians, statisticians, theoretical biologists and social scientists from five different schools at Arizona State University.

2. Curriculum with dynamic and statistical approaches as critical and unifying components, aimed at producing first-rate scientists whose skills will always be in high demand.

3. A way of thinking that builds upon foundations established in:

  • mathematical epidemiology
  • genomics
  • population dynamics
  • bioinformatics
  • ecology
  • computational sciences
  • mathematical analysis
  • social science

4. An interweaving of theory, applications and analytical approaches with cross-disciplinary and international collaboration, attracting students with strong and potentially diverse scientific and cultural backgrounds.

5. Since our school also offers graduate programs in anthropology, environmental social science, global health and museum studies, we are able to offer world-class training in these areas as well.

Want to be part of the scientific movement that revolutionizes the ways we manage natural resources, respond to epidemics or educate the next generation of scientists? Explore with us this new and exciting frontier at the intersection of the environmental, health, life, social, mathematical, physical and computational sciences – and prepare to make a difference.

Current alumni job titles include director of global security initiatives, principal biostatistician, and senior associate of financial modeling.

5 years to degree
7:1 faculty ratio
105k median salary

Degree Overview

The 84-credit program requires comprehensive exams, a prospectus and a dissertation.

We are very interested in students who wish to work in two or more of these areas, in which we provide particularly strong graduate-level training:

  • biostatistics
  • complex adaptive systems
  • disease evolution
  • epidemiology
  • human ecology
  • human-environment interaction
  • institutional analysis
  • modeling and simulation
  • mathematical and theoretical biology
  • quantitative methods

Concentrations

Students in this program may include the following optional concentration in their coursework and should consult the graduate advisor for more information.

Complex Adaptive Systems Science

This concentration trains the next generation of scientists in advanced concepts and methods needed for approaching diverse phenomena in the social and life sciences. The program is tightly integrated with diverse, ongoing, university-wide research on complex adaptive systems science and emphasizes the value of this perspective to give better insight and a more active role in seeking solutions to a broad array of critical issues facing our society today. Students will be fluent in the common language of complexity while also receiving a solid foundation in the domain knowledge of existing academic disciplines. Students will select 15 credits from an approved list of applicable courses.

How to apply

APPLICATION DEADLINE: March 1

Prospective students must submit an application for graduate admission, the application fee and the following required materials:

  • official transcripts
  • personal statement outlining educational and professional goals
  • current curriculum vitae or resume
  • GRE scores
  • three letters of recommendation
  • proof of English proficiency

Applicants may also submit an optional scholarly writing sample not to exceed 20-30 double-spaced pages. More information on submitting your materials is available from the Graduate College.

To be considered, prospective students must have earned a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants must have a minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of a student's first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

Prior to admission, students should have completed, at the undergraduate junior or senior level, a minimum of the following:

  • 15 hours of mathematics or statistics
  • nine hours of life sciences and social sciences coursework at the senior or college graduate level
  • no fewer than three hours each of life sciences and social sciences coursework

4x
Job growth for mathematicians and statisticians is projected to be four times higher than the standard rate by 2026.

Curriculum

The PhD in applied mathematics for the life and social sciences requires a total of 84 credit hours. A previously awarded master’s degree in a related area can be used to satisfy 30 hours of this requirement. An additional 30 hours of coursework are required.

Students entering the program do so with diverse backgrounds and with varied career goals, so we recognize the need to be flexible in planning the most appropriate path for each student. Thus, curricular tracks will tend to be individualized, and final determination of the most appropriate course of study or how each requirement should most appropriately be met is made by a student’s advisory committee in consideration of the research and career goals of the student.

RequirementCredits

Core courses

15

Numerical analysis course*

3

Approved elective courses

42

Research

12

Dissertation

12

     Total credits

84

* Required for students admitted with a master's degree.

Courses and electives

Students entering the PhD in applied mathematics for the life and social sciences do so with diverse backgrounds and with varied career goals, so we recognize the need to be flexible in planning the most appropriate path for each student. Thus, curricular tracks will tend to be individualized and final determination of the most appropriate course of study or how each requirement should most appropriately be met is made by a student’s advisory committee in consideration of the research and career goals of the student.

All students will take the following courses:

AML 610 Topics in AMLSS (3 credits)
AML 611 Research Design and Proposal Writing (3 credits)
AML 612 AMLSS Modeling Seminar (3 credits)
AML 613 Probability and Stochastic Modeling for LSS (3 credits)
One course in biostatistics (3 credits)

Students admitted to the program with a master's degree are required to take one course in numerical analysis (3 credits). Students admitted without a master's degree will instead take an additional approved elective course (3 credits).

Students will choose the courses that best fit their needs in consultation with their committee (42 credits).

Research Skills Portfolio
The student writes two publishable research papers that demonstrate the ability to develop research questions, and to gather, analyze and interpret data systematically to address those questions. Such papers are normally written in the context of program courses, but papers written in other contexts are also encouraged. Students present one of the research papers in a school-wide research symposium, held in the latter part of each spring semester.

Doctoral Examinations
Prior to advancing to candidacy, the student completes a written doctoral examination and prepares and orally defends a dissertation proposal (oral examination). The dissertation proposal should (in most cases) serve as the written part of the comprehensive exam.

Dissertation
Students write a dissertation, which must be approved by their supervisory committee. The format of the dissertation must be in accordance with ASU Graduate College guidelines. While the ASU Graduate College will accept either three published papers or a dissertation format, for AMLSS students a research dissertation is almost always recommended. Because of the program's emphasis on use-inspired research, the dissertation should include a perspective or component that addresses the relevance of the research to society. The culmination is the public presentation and oral defense of the dissertation.

AML 792 Research (12 credits)
AML 799 Dissertation (12 credits)

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