FSU Department of Mathematics among top U.S. producers of doctoral degrees

Over the last 20 years, the number of doctorates awarded in mathematics by U.S. institutions has nearly doubled, according to recently published data from the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED). Florida State University is among the top contributors to that exceptional growth.

In the January edition of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, Florida State’s Department of Mathematics was ranked 11th in the country by the SED for the number of doctorates awarded, with a total of 342 doctoral degrees conferred from 2000 to 2019.

“It’s great to see how the FSU mathematics graduate program has developed and grown over the years, as reflected for example in the substantial increase in the number of doctoral degrees awarded per year,” said Washington Mio, mathematics department chair.

In the category of applied mathematics, FSU broke into the top 10, ranking No. 5 among public universities and No. 7 overall in number of doctorates awarded. The SED is a joint effort of the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, Department of Education, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is widely considered the most comprehensive report of earned doctorates available in the United States.

“Our standing in these rankings is quite a remarkable achievement especially considering that our faculty size is about half the size of some of the top 10 mathematics departments,” said Professor of Mathematics and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies Giray Ökten. “This shows the productivity of our faculty and hard work of our students. A lot of credit also goes to faculty, some of whom are retired now, who developed our innovative graduate programs about 20 years ago.”

In the early 2000s, Florida State saw a major increase in the demand for researchers and professionals with mathematical skills in the field of financial engineering and the rapidly growing domains of quantitative and computational biology and medicine. In response, the department developed and implemented new doctoral tracks in financial mathematics and biomathematics, greatly reinvigorating and expanding the doctoral program.

“We are now in the early days of a similar investment in mathematical data science and I am very optimistic about its future,” Mio said.

FSU’s Interdisciplinary Data Science Master’s Degree Program, which welcomed in its inaugural class of graduate students in Fall 2021, features program tracks in mathematics as well as computational science, computer science and statistics.

The rankings reflect progress made toward the academic and research excellence goal outlined in FSU’s 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, tracking with concerted efforts on many fronts at once: attracting and retaining top faculty talent; becoming a destination for the brightest graduate students; encouraging high-impact interdisciplinary inquiry; and developing innovative teaching strategies.

“Mathematics faculty and students have been incredibly productive and efficient,” said Sam Huckaba, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The deliberate expansion by mathematics of innovative offerings, starting two decades ago, has provided a fantastic complement to our traditional tracks. And I am most proud that these achievements have happened with a continuing emphasis on high quality.”

Mio adds that one of department’s greatest strengths is the supportive, inclusive environment that has been created for students to develop and grow as mathematicians and citizens of the professional community. This includes student mentoring tailored to individual needs and consistent, constructive interactions between students and their major professors.

“As a department, we have had an important role in shaping many successful careers in a broad landscape of domains, often opening the doors to life changing opportunities for our graduates,” Mio said. “I see this as a key measure of success and the ultimate reward for our collective effort in graduate education.”

The success of the math department has also made Florida State a destination for scholars from around the globe, with the university routinely hosting national and international lectures and conferences. This March, the Department of Mathematics is set to host the Tenth International Conference on Sensitivity Analysis of Model Output (SAMO), the first to be held in the U.S. since 2004.

To learn more about the FSU Department of Mathematics, visit math.fsu.edu.