PhD programs

The proposed PhD program will expand the role of the mathematics department, from currently teaching mathematics and building fundamental mathematical skills and mastery of all students in general to carrying out excellence in research. This research activity will ensure that, at Nazarbayev University, mathematics as science will develop and advance, at least at the same pace as the other sciences, from which the other areas of research can also benefit.


As Kazakhstan strives to become one of the top 30 most developed countries under the ‘Third Modernization of Kazakhstan’ model of economic growth, we anticipate growing demand from local, national, and international sources for highly trained English speaking Ph.D. holder in mathematics, thus, providing a healthy job market for our graduates in academic, corporate, and government sectors. Graduates of this program are expected to find highly respected positions in academia and industry.

Graduates of the Ph.D. in Mathematics program will be prepared to play important roles in Kazakhstan’s economy, especially with respect to research, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. In this regard, this program will serve as a key building block in the research-driven economic and technological development of the region, and as a key amplifier of the influence of the Nazarbayev University within Kazakhstan and beyond its borders.

The proposed PhD program is a 4-year program and comprises compulsory coursework, research, and dissertation writing. The program aligns with the structure of similar programs in North America, and is in compliance with the Bologna process, adopted by the Republic of Kazakhstan and the revised Graduate Programs Framework of Nazarbayev University.


Applicants applying to the Ph.D in Mathematics are expected to have:

1) an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s degree or equivalent) and master’s degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline, to be determined by the Admissions Committee (Admission Committee is in charge to decide what discipline is relevant or not);

2) a minimum CGPA of 2.75 out of 4.00 in their highest degree;

3) the required level of English proficiency;

4) two confidential letters of recommendation. One of the two recommendations shall be written by a current or previous employer or research supervisor. The second referee may be chosen at the applicant’s discretion;

5) a statement of purpose not exceeding 1000 words, explaining the motivation to enroll in the Ph.D. in Mathematics program and the tentative choice of the research subject. Applicants are encouraged to contact Faculty members to discuss potential research projects under their supervision;

6) strong reading, analytical and mathematical skills as demonstrated by GRE test (optional). Although an official GRE score is not an essential requirement, an applicant can enhance her/his application with a competitive GRE score;

7) a curriculum vitae (up to two A4 pages);

The absolute minimum requirement for English language proficiency test reports for admission to the Ph.D. Program is: overall IELTS (except IELTS Online) test score of 6.5 (with at least 6.0 in each subscore), or the equivalent TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition) score as posted on the ETS website.

The absolute minimum requirement for English language proficiency test report for admission to Zero Year of Graduate Programs is an overall IELTS (except IELTS Online) test score of 5.5, only one subscore out of four can be at least 5.0, other subscores must be at least 5.5 or the equivalent TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition) scores as posted on the ETS website.

Applicants to the Program, at the discretion of the Admissions Committee, can be exempted from submitting the language proficiency test report if:

– one of their earlier academic degrees was earned in a country with English as the language of official communication, academic instruction and daily life;

– a Master’s degree or equivalent was earned in a program which was officially taught in English;

– the applicant is a graduate of University.

Application package checklist for the Ph.D in Mathematics program:

1) complete Application form for Ph.D. Program;

2) scanned copy of official degree diplomas/certificates with transcripts (verified);

3) scanned copy of document confirming English as the language of instruction (only for applicants who earned their degree in a program which was taught in English and request an exemption from submitting IELTS (except IELTS Online) or TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition));

4) scanned copy of Passport/national ID (international applicants must provide a scanned copy of passport);

5) two confidential letters of recommendation written within the last 12 months (to be provided by referees via University system or in scanned copy);

6) scanned copy of a curriculum vitae (up to two A4 pages);

7) a statement of purpose not exceeding 1000 words, explaining the motivation to enroll on the Ph.D. Program, and the tentative choice of the research subject;

8) scanned copy of official document confirming name change (if applicable);

9) verified score report of valid Academic IELTS (except IELTS Online) or TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition) test certificate downloaded from the Test Administrator system and its scanned copy. The last IELTS (except IELTS Online)/TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition) certificate submitted to the Personal account will be considered in the admission competition. IELTS (except IELTS Online) or TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition) certificate valid (no more than 2 years) as of date of online documents submission. An applicant must indicate the Nazarbayev University as a recipient when registering for the test. In case if the applicant passed the test earlier, he/she can contact the test center and indicate the University as a recipient;

10) verified score report of valid GRE test certificate valid as of date of online documents submission and its scanned copy (optional). An applicant must indicate Nazarbayev University as a recipient when registering for the test. In case the applicant passed the test earlier, he/she can contact the test center and indicate the Nazarbayev University as a recipient.


4 years

Career and Internship Support

Student support is provided by a combination of services, centrally in the university, by SSH and at the PhD program level. Much of the support focuses on developing students’ skills to enhance their performance in the program.

This support is provided through the main Supervisor and Co-supervisors, who are the primary point of contact for all matters relating to students’ welfare and progress including career counseling. The Supervisor(s) and PhD candidate work together to identify the student’s Advisory Committee. The Supervisor is the key faculty member responsible for guiding the student through the PhD program, and especially through the process of identifying and designing his/her dissertation topic. The Supervisor is also expected to work closely with the PhD student in planning the research work and in the analysis of the data. Finally, the Supervisor must approve the draft of the dissertation prior to it being sent for external review. The Supervisor(s) will work with the student to address the comments and suggestions of the external examiner and will then determine when the dissertation draft is ready for the final defense at the University.

Academic staff delivering taught modules and lectures will provide students with necessary material, in classrooms, laboratories, and workshops, by print and electronic material such as Moodle. Students will be encouraged to attend Professional Development Workshops organized by CAC, SSH or the Department.

All students are required to take part in a 6 to a 12-month internship at an international host laboratory. The host supervisor and supervisory team at NU will maintain communication with the student throughout the student’s stay. The internship supported by supervisor or co-supervisor’s individual faculty grants or from the School budget.

Program structure

The four-year 240 ECTS credit Ph.D. in Mathematics is a research intensive third cycle program designed according to the Bologna requirements. The curriculum of the program consists of three different types of courses:

core pillar courses (20 ECTS),
elective pillar courses (40 ECTS), and
research pillar courses (Thesis Research and Thesis Dissertation) 180 ECTS).

Core pillar courses consist of one disciplinary core course (6 ECTS), and two department core courses (14 ECTS). These courses are designed to give a solid and broad base of advanced knowledge in technology and data-driven areas of mathematics that provides the students with an opportunity to acquire the necessary theoretical and methodological knowledge to succeed in their research. These courses are planned for the first year.
A selection of department elective courses (40 ECTS) in Semesters 1 and 2 will permit students to define specialization areas according to future research and professional career goals.
The Research pillar course Thesis Research spans Years 1-2. In Semesters 1-2 and Summer Term 1 students develop their Thesis Proposal. Semesters 3-8 and Summer Terms 2-4 are dedicated to thesis research only.
Courses may be waived on admission for students who are deemed to have completed equivalent work and have achieved an acceptable level of understanding (min. grade B+) and replaced by Level-8 course(s) (the max. ECTS waive possible 40% of taught elements, i.e. 24 ECTS from
core or elective of equal credit value) selected by the student’s supervisory committee and approved by the corresponding departmental committee.

The list of courses for the Ph.D. in Mathematics is given below:

Discipline CoreCourses (1)
DENG 782 Research Methods & Ethics (6 ECTS)

Department Core Courses (2)
MATH 701 Real analysis (8 ECTS)
MATH 791 Topics in Mathematics (6 ECTS)

Department Electives (8)
MATH 702 Functional Analysis with Applications (8 ECTS)
MATH 711 Advanced abstract algebra (8 ECTS)
MATH 721 Nonlinear Differential Equations with Applications (8 ECTS)
MATH 722 Advanced Partial Differential Equations and Applications (8 ECTS)
MATH 741 Computational Fluid Dynamics (8 ECTS)
MATH 751 Probability Theory (8 ECTS)
MATH 761 Mathematical Finance (8 ECTS)
MATH 771 Operations Research (8 ECTS)

Research Course (2)
MATH 799 Thesis Research (0 ECTS)
MATH 800 Doctoral Thesis (180 ECTS)

Learning and teaching methods utilized in the courses will include
class discussion,
reflective assignments,
literature review,
research paper writing,
research project,
research poster design, and
oral presentation


**Ample funding is available for local and international students, with the majority receiving a full scholarship and stipend.**

To get more details follow the link:

Doctoral students are given the opportunity to work at NU as a Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) or research assistants (RAs).

Important dates
    Application periods for Ph.D. programs:
  • for International applicants: December 5, 2022 – February 28, 2023 inclusive
  • for the citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan: December 5, 2022 – April 18, 2023 inclusive
        The final deadline for submission of IELTS/TOEFL, GRE certificates
      • for International applicants: March 15, 2023 inclusive
      • for the citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan May 3, 2023 inclusive

        The start of orientation week: August 7, 2023

        First day of classes: August 14, 2023

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