How it works

Quick facts:

  • SUBgroups is organized for junior mathematicians, by junior mathematicians.
  • There is no cost to participate in SUBgroups.
  • Applications are due in August/September, and the program runs September/October through December.

What are SUBgroups?

A SUBgroup is a small group of first-year students (3 to 5 members), all from different math graduate programs. The group meets every two weeks by video chat for about an hour through the fall. Topics of conversation will include members’ recent successes and difficulties in grad school as well as tidbits of math they’ve recently encountered. Some norms and some suggestions for how the meetings can run well are shared with participants; see the Handbook. For instance, it’s a norm that everyone will have a turn to talk about whatever recent experiences they choose. The meetings will be run by the participants themselves.

We want all participants to find their SUBgroup to be a supportive peer group. To help make sure that happens, we ask for input from participants about the make-up of their groups. In particular, we help to connect folks who belong to groups that are underrepresented in mathematics.


There are three main goals for these groups and chats. 

share:  One challenge of math graduate school is that it isn’t always easy to share the experiences you’re having. Family and friends may not always “get” these experiences, and you may or may not feel comfortable sharing everything with your new classmates or professors. In your SUBgroup you will be able to share your experiences with people who can relate to beginning a graduate career, but from a little distance. You’ll also have the chance to share about the cool math you’re learning! 

uplift:  One way that the members of your SUBgroup will uplift each other is just by listening to each other. Being heard feels good. You will also cheer each other on, sympathize, commiserate, and offer advice and perspectives. 

bridge: Your SUBgroup will help you to bridge the transition into being a graduate student. It will also help you to bridge into the wider mathematical community beyond your program. You’ll get to know people “virtually” who you may later meet in person at conferences and other events. And finally, you will be helping to bridge the information barrier: different PhD programs are different, and what seems normal at your program might seem wonderful or worrisome to someone else. It’s good for all of us to share best practices and worst pitfalls!