Graduate Programs

Four graduate degrees are offered by the Mathematics and Statistics Department.

  • M.S. in Mathematics (Pure Math)
    The Pure Math Graduate Program trains students in mathematical concepts independent of application outside mathematics.
  • M.S. in Mathematics, Applied Mathematics Option
    The Applied Math Graduate Program trains students in applied math methods with strong emphasis on computational skills.
  • M.S. in Mathematics, Mathematics Education for Secondary School Teachers Option*
    The Math Education Graduate Program is designed for people who are currently teaching or planning to teach secondary or community college mathematics. This option will give educators greater expertise in mathematics and mathematics education (curriculum, teaching, learning, assessment, and research).
    *Note: Starting Fall 2024, this degree will be renamed "M.S. in Mathematics for Educators."
  • M.S. in Applied Statistics
    The Applied Statistics Graduate Program trains students to utilize statistical methods to draw valid and meaningful inferences from data.

Additional information can be found in the Mathematics and Statistics - CSULB Catalog (23-24).

The following is advice for:

To-do list for current graduate students:

  1. Remove deficiencies.
  2. Meet the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).
  3. Maintain a GPA of at least 3.0.
  4. Decide between comprehensive exams and a thesis/project.
  5. Advance to candidacy.
  6. Pass comprehensive exams or defend and submit your thesis to the library.
  7. File for graduation.

Remove Deficiencies

If you were admitted to the program conditionally, contact your advisor to determine what you must do to have the conditional status removed.  Generally this involves taking missing prerequisite courses, or repeating undergraduate courses in which you received low grades.

Meet the GWAR

Please visit the page Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement Policy for details.

You must first pass the GWAR before applying for Advance to Candidacy. If you haven't passed the GWAR, contact your graduate advisor for guidance.

Maintain a GPA of at Least 3.0

Graduate students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 to remain in good standing. If the GPA falls below 3.0, students will be placed on academic warning and may eventually be disqualified (removed from program).

Decide Between Comprehensive Exams and a Thesis/Project

To complete the graduate program, you must pass two comprehensive exams associated to their program or work with a faculty advisor to write a thesis/project.

Comprehensive Exams

Students opting to take comprehensive exams must take both exams during the same semester. You have at most two attempts to pass each exam. The area of examination is determined by field of study:

  • Pure Math: Algebra, Topology, Complex Analysis, Real Analysis, and Functional Analysis
  • Applied Math: Partial Differential Equations, Applied Nonlinear Ordinary Differential Equations, and Numerical Analysis. Applied mathematics students may replace one of these exams by the statistical compreprehensive exam Statistical Inference.
  • Math Education: one representing MTED 511/512 and another in a selected area - MTED 540, 550, 560, 570, or 580
  • Applied Statistics: Statistical Inference and Experimental Design and Analysis

Pass the exams with grade C or better. Retake any failed exam(s). Maximum two attempts in total.

You must file the paperwork to Advance to Candidacy before signing up to take the comprehensive exams.  The exams are offered during the third and fourth weekend of each semester.  The sign-up period roughly begins three weeks before the end of the previous semester and ends roughly a week before classes begin. Fliers announcing the exams will be posted in the department during these periods.

See: Comprehensive Exam Preparation.


The thesis/project option is a much more significant undertaking than the comprehensive exams. A thesis/project is a collaborative activity between a faculty advisor and the student. Both the topic and the content of the thesis/project should be generated in collaboration; you should not attempt to generate a thesis/project topic or research without faculty guidance. Students considering the thesis/project option should speak with faculty members about the possibility of working together on a thesis/project. With the faculty advisor, you and advisor should together:

  • Solicit two other faculty members to be readers and committee members who will evaluate the thesis/project once it is complete. In case of the project option, an addtional industrial advisor is also required.
  • Write an abstract of the thesis/project work to be completed to be submitted with the paperwork required to Advance to Candidacy.

Students completing the thesis/project option must enroll in at least 3 units of 698 after Advancing to Candidacy.

Advance to Candidacy

The catalog description of the graduate program that is in place the semester during which you Advance to Candidacy describes the program under which you will graduate.  Any changes made to the program before you Advance apply to you; changes made to the program after you Advance do not.  Before you begin the paperwork to Advance to Candidacy, you must:

  • have taken the necessary steps to remove deficiencies in your preparation for graduate work (if you were admitted conditionally).
  • have completed at least 6 units of graduate course work.
  • have at least 3.0 in both your graduate program GPA and cumulative GPA.
  • meet Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).
  • have selected the comprehensive exam or thesis option.

Get the preliminary form to Advance to Candidacy from your graduate advisor. The program you plan when you file this paperwork can be changed, but that requires more paperwork, so choose your courses carefully.

Transfer Credit

The paperwork to transfer the courses to CSULB takes place when the student advances to candidacy. Courses used in obtaining other degrees (bachelors, master's or otherwise) are not transferable to CSULB. At most 9 semester units of credit can be transferred into a graduate program, subject to the approval of the graduate advisor. Courses taken through "Open University" at CSULB come under the same transfer limitations as courses taken at another university. One quarter unit counts as 2/3 of a semester unit; thus an approved course worth 4 quarter units would transfer as 2.667 semester units. Thus at most three courses worth 6 quarter units may be transferred into the program, earning 9 semester units of credit toward the degree at CSULB. Contact your advisor for more information.

Pass Comprehensive Exams or Defend and Submit Your Thesis to the Library

Comprehensive Exams: Students must file the paperwork to Advance to Candidacy before signing up to take the comprehensive exams. The exams are offered during the third and fourth weekend of each semester.  The sign-up period roughly begins three weeks before the end of the previous semester and ends roughly a week before classes begin. Fliers announcing the exams will be posted in the department during these periods.

Thesis/Project: The thesis/project must be submitted to the Thesis and Dissertation Office by the deadline. The following web site shows the deadlines as well as other information for students preparing theses.  TeX and Word templates are available for the CSULB thesis/project format; contact your advisor for more information.

File for Graduation

Student Records has a Graduation Checklist for Master's Students about how and when to file for graduation.

Our graduate programs cover pure math, applied math, math education, and applied statistics. We aim at building strong foundations and providing cutting edge technologies for our students. Our students enjoy strong personal interaction with faculty members.

The programs are designed to serve both full-time students and full-time professionals. Graduate courses usually start at 4PM or later. Most graduate courses are offered on two days a week, either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. Some courses in math education and applied statistics are offered one day per week to accommodate working professionals.


Before you apply to your program, you must meet the following minimal requirements:

  • have competed all but at most one of the prerequisites for your program
  • have a GPA of at least 2.5 in your last 90 quarter units or last 60 semester units of college level course work

If you do not meet these requirements, you should contact the advisor for your desired program to discuss ways in which you can still meet your goals. Students who do not qualify to apply immediately are often directed to Open University, a program though which people not enrolled as students can take courses at CSULB. Before enrolling, seek advice from your program's advisor.

Types of Admission

If you qualify for your program and have a strong background, particularly in the prerequisite courses, you will be admitted to the program unconditionally. If you qualify, but have a weak background, such as C's in the important prerequisite courses, or a missing prerequisite, you may be admitted to the program conditionally. The conditions that must be met to make your status unconditional vary from student to student, but may include making up missing prerequisites, or retaking prerequisites in which you received low grades.

How to Apply

To apply for admission to a graduate program in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, you must apply to the department and to the university. These are separate applications.

To apply to the department, complete the appropriate prerequisite worksheet and email it to the graduate advisor for that program.

To apply to the university, read the Graduate Programs Admissions Eligibility. This involves filing an application online at Cal State Apply, paying a fee and submitting official transcripts to the university. Note that you do NOT need to send transcripts to the department. The advisors will view your transcripts online.

Letters of recommendation and GRE are not required for your admission, but are helpful. The letters should be addressed to the graduate advisor specific to the program.  

Application Deadlines

The Department deadlines for Fall and Spring applications are the same as the Cal State Apply deadlines for our programs. The deadline for the Spring semester is November 1. The deadline for the Fall semester is June 1.

Note: For international students, the application deadlines are much earlier. Please check the College of Professional and Continuing Education for international deadlines.


A few GA/TA positions are available each year for our graduate students. You may apply for one of the positions available. Review of applications will begin April 1 for Fall semester and November 1 for Spring semester, but applications after these dates will still be accepted.