Department of Mathematics
Frequently asked questions: courses and program information
What are the courses?
There is a fair amount of flexibility in the program. The courses are primarily grouped into two groups: year-long sequences and electives. The year-long sequences have an A-level course offered in the fall and a B-level course offered in the spring. The electives are generally A-level courses which have only undergraduate-level prerequisites, and which do not have a second semester. A-level courses can be offered either term. The B-level courses are more advanced and generally have at least one mathematics graduate course as a prerequisite.
What are the current degree requirements for the Master's in mathematics?
The program requires a student to complete 30 credits of course work in mathematics or in a related field as approved by the graduate advisor, complete 3 "B-level" courses, and have a GPA of at least 3.00. A thesis is not required for the degree. See the Master's Program Description. The most recent CCNY Graduate Catalog lists the current degree requirements.
What are the previous degree requirements for the Master's in mathematics? (for students admitted Fall 2009 and earlier)
The earlier program requirements were for a student to complete 30 credits of course work in mathematics or in a related field as approved by the graduate advisor. Furthermore, students selected one of two options: Pure Mathematics, or Probability and Statistics. The latter option required that students competed two graduate courses in computer science, so students were advised to have some familiarity with programming in a high-level language. A thesis was not required for the degree. The exact requirements for the degree are given in the catalog and are described here: Master's Description earlier.
What happened to the options?
The new requirements do not require selecting an option.
I was admitted before Spring 2010, which requirements apply to me?
The older program requirements. Note that any combination of courses which satisfied the previous program will satisfy the current program requirements, although (as always) courses outside of the mathematics graduate program courses require graduate advisor approval in advance.
How long will it take to complete the Master's degree?
Most students take two years to complete their degrees, though full-time well-prepared students entering in the fall may complete the program in a year.
Students who enter the program in the spring semester may require an extra semester because of scheduling constraints.
Courses are generally offered on a two-year cycle, described below, which is good to consult for planning. Some students taking one course each semester finish in four years. Students taking two courses per semester often finish in two years. Students taking four graduate courses per semester who start in a Fall semester can finish in one year.
I appreciate the flexibility but it would be helpful to see some of the programs of study that students have completed for their degree.
Here are some sample graduate programs of study to serve as examples, reflecting different interests and paces through the program.
How are grades assigned in graduate courses?
Your instructor will inform you at the beginning of the term his or her method for computing grades. Although exams play a role in the evaluation, instructors will often give more weight to outside assignments than is done in undergraduate courses. Note that the lowest passing grade in graduate courses is a "C" and that you need a "B" (that is, 3.0) average in your graduate courses to be in good standing and to be awarded the Master's degree.
When is registration?
For continuing graduate students in good standing, web registration starts in May for the Fall semester and November for the Spring term and is ongoing. For new students and continuing students interested in in-person registration, see the registrar's page for dates. New students will need to meet with a Graduate Advisor before registering.
I'm having difficulty with the online registration - the system says that I don't have a prerequisite course but I really do. What should I do?
Contact the Graduate Advisor, as the system does not always recognize prerequisite courses that you have taken at CCNY, or equivalent ones at another institution. Furthermore, with the transition to the CUNY First system, there have been some adjustments.
Can I begin doing mathematical research for my Master's degree?
Generally the Master's degree in Mathematics does not have a research component. However, some of our faculty will provide Master's students with the opportunity to work with them on a research project, which may be credited towards the degree. If you are interested in doing such work you should consult directly with the faculty person with whom you wish to work, or consult the department graduate advisor. Such work is typically done through independent study courses.
Can a student in the Math M.S. program take undergraduate mathematics courses?
Yes, though these courses do not count toward the 30 graduate credit requirement. Taking undergraduate courses can be a required part if a student does not already meet the admissions requirements. Students may also want to take undergraduate courses to serve as prerequisites to graduate courses or to broaden their mathematical preparation. Though undergraduate courses do not count toward the 30 graduate credit requirement, they do appear on transcripts.
Can a student in the Math M.S. program take graduate math education courses?
No. The courses for these programs are quite different in scope from the courses for the Master's in mathematics. The Math courses taught as part of the various advanced certification programs administered through the School of Education are designed for students with different mathematics backgrounds and objectives than students pursuing the M.S. in Mathematics. On the other hand, a Master's in Mathematics would provide an excellent mathematics background for a career in secondary education, though a student would still need to complete various education requirements to obtain NY State certification. Details regarding teaching certification programs can be found at the School of Education website.
What is the anticipated schedule of courses?
Graduate course offerings generally follow a four-semester cycle, described in the table linked below
What is the schedule for Fall 2016?
- A3200: Complex I TR 6-8 Prof. Bak
- A3500: PDE I MW 6-8 Prof. Davey
- A4600: Linear Algebra MW 2-4 Prof. Santoro
- A4900: Modern Algebra I TR 4-6 Prof. Daugherty
- A7700: Stochastic Processes I MW 4-6 Prof. Hanson
What will be the textbook for my graduate courses?
These vary from semester to semester as they are chosen by the instructor.
Fall 2016 texts:
- MATH A3200: "Complex Analysis", Bak and Newman (3rd edition) ISBN 978-1441972873
- MATH A3500: "Introduction to Partial Differential Equations" Peter Olver, ISBN 978-3319020983
- MATH A4600: “Linear Algebra and its Applications”, Peter Lax (2nd edition). ISBN 978-0-471-75156-4.
- MATH A4900: "Abstract Algebra", Dummit & Foote, (3rd edition) ISBN 978-0471433347
- MATH A7700: "Essentials of Stochastic Processes" Rick Durrett (2nd edition) ISBN 978-146143614
Textbook information can be found on CUNY First.
You may also find this page of recently-used texts helpful:
I'm a graduate student having a hard time in a course. Should I drop the course or tough it out?
There are many concerns here, and this can be a difficult decision. You will want to talk to your instructor and/or the Graduate Advisor. But there are several important pieces of information to know and to factor into your decision:
- There are no "D" grades for graduate students, so getting a 69 grade will result in an F.
- If you retake a course, both grades (the grade you got the first time and the grade you got the second time) are counted in your GPA. This is different from the way that undergraduate GPAs are computeed, where (subject to some limitations) the new grade may replace the old grade.
- Given that a 3.0 GPA is needed to remain in good standing and to graduate, getting a low grade can make things difficult for quite some time or result in immediate dismissal from the program. For example, a 4 credit F will require getting A's in 3 other 4 credit courses to balance out and bring the average GPA to 3.0, or it will require 5 A- grades or 11 B+ grades to return to a 3.0 average. Note that a typical student takes 8 courses to finish.
- Note that even a B- grade is a problem as that gives 2.7 grade points, below the required 3.0 GPA.
What is the comprehensive examination requirement?
Most commonly, the comprehensive examination requirement has been waived by the Graduate Advisor.
What about a foreign language requirement?
There is no foreign language requirement for the degree.
What are "mathematically based disciplines " where I can take some elective courses?
Courses in "mathematically based disciplines" include some scientific and engineering courses, some economics or finance courses are typical examples of applicable courses in mathematically based disciplines. Remember that for these to count towards the degree, they must be approved by the graduate advisor in advance and must have significant mathematical content, not merely be applications of undergraduate-level mathematics to a field of study. Students need to be in good standing to take courses offered by other departments and the courses need to fit into a coherent plan of study. It is not very common for students to take courses outside of the mathematics department offerings which have sufficient graduate-level mathematical content to meet the degree requirements.
I've already taken some related graduate courses in a mathematically-related discipline, can those count towards my mathematics MS degree?
No, those courses require prior approval of the graduate advisor so if they have already been taken, they cannot be used toward the MS degree.
I've already taken some graduate mathematics courses at another institution, can those count towards my mathematics MS degree?
No, the courses for the degree need to be approved by the CCNY graduate advisors in advance. Those courses may serve as prerequisites for other graduate courses- consult the graduate advisors for specific cases.
I'm very interested in a mathematics course that isn't offered at CCNY. What can I do?
One possibility may be to take such a course through the ePermit process, which is described on the administrative FAQ page . Again, the first step is to discuss your plans with a graduate advisor. To count toward the CCNY degree, such a course needs to be at an appropriate level and there needs to be a compelling justification in each case. Furthermore, such a course needs to be approved in advance by a mathematics graduate advisor.
I'm interested in doing an independent study. How does that work?
The first step in an independent study is finding a faculty member who is willing to supervise it, and there needs to be a compelling reason for such an independent study. Once an instructor is arranged, you need to contact the graduate advisors, and finally complete the independent study form and email it to the graduate advisor. This needs to be completed and submitted well before the term starts. Note that though the administrative course numbers for independent study courses typically start with "B" they are not considered B-level courses for the purpose of the degree requirements.
I'm interested in the program but I missed the application deadline. What can I do?
Students in the situation of not applying in time for admission to the program may apply to become non-matriculated graduate students. That application is much less involved (just one page) and does not require letters of reference. Furthermore, unofficial transcripts are sufficient. Students who are accepted as non-matriculated students can take graduate (or undergraduate) courses and then apply for admission to the program in a subsequent term. Note that there is an absolute maximum of 12 graduate credits which can be counted towards a degree which can be taken while in non-matriculated status.
I can't find the non-matriculated application forms.
The one-page application form and instructions are available here and also somewhere on the Graduate Admissions webpages. There is also an online application available for non-matriculated ("non-degree") graduate students.