Masters and Ph.D. students take the same courses in the first year of their programs. From 2011, first year students take Analysis and Algebra which are year-long courses, and Complex Variables, a semester-long course. In addition, students take the Problems Seminar course to help prepare the Qualifying Exam which is taken at the end of the first year. Ph.D. students must pass this exam with distinction in order to continue with their studies. Students have two opportunities to pass the Qualifying Exam. Students take at least four optional courses. After passing the Qualifying Exam, students start their dissertation which takes approximately three years to complete.