Willam Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition

The Mathematics Department’s Putnam Exam team is coached by faculty and is currently one of the highest ranking schools in the United States and Canada.


The BYU Department of Mathematics has seen great success in recent years. Enrollment has skyrocketed, research has expanded, and performance has improved dramatically.

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is a particular area of performance that has drawn attention to BYU as one of the top math departments in the country.

The Putnam Competition began in 1938 as a means to provide academia with a team spirit similar to that of athleticism. Mr. William Lowell Putnam, a Harvard graduate, believed that an intellectual intercollegiate competition would establish good relationships between universities and encourage students to devote more time and energy to their studies. Today, this friendly rivalry inspires students nationwide to study mathematics and prepare to compete in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, which takes place each December on the first Saturday of the month.

The Putnam exam consists of two three-hour tests with 12 problems in total. Each problem is graded on a scale of 0 to 10 points. Undergraduates from the U.S. and Canada take the exam, forming teams to represent their respective universities. The top five teams and the top 25 individuals with the highest scores are awarded scholarships and prize money. The Mathematical Association of America names the five highest scoring contestants Putnam Fellows, and awards each of them with $2500. One Putnam Fellow receives the William Lowell Putnam Prize Scholarship; a $12,000 prize plus tuition at Harvard.

In December of 2021, a total of 2,975 students took the Putnam exam. Each team score is the sum of the top three scores at the institution. Joseph Camacho and Gradin Andersen both ranked in the top 100 of all Putnam contestants. James Camacho placed in the top 200. Four other students, Quinlan Leishman, Gordon Bridge, Dallin Christiansen, and Daniel South placed in the top 500 contestants.
Students interested in competing in the Putnam Competition can take a preparatory class, Math 391R in the fall semester, which meets at 12:00-12:50 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and teaches problem solving techniques. Students need not be registered for the class to participate in the Putnam Competition. For more information contact Dr. Michael Griffin or Dr. Mark Hughes.