Division of Science






Department of Mathematics
The City College of New York
160 Convent Avenue
New York, NY 10031

Phone: (212) 650-5346
Fax: (212) 650-6294

Master's Program FAQ: Courses and program information

This is a page devoted about the CCNY Math Master's Program addressing frequently asked questions about our courses and the program.

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.

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.

How can I find the time and locations of courses?

Please look at the class schedule on the Registrar's Website. Before a semester begins, this is usually the most up to date information about our courses. Later this information is copied to the schedule page on the Department's website.

What is the schedule for the 2021-2022 academic year?

During this academic year, we will offer A/B sequences in Topology, Algebra, Real Analysis, and Statistics. These courses start in the Fall, with the following courses and continue into the Spring as the corresponding B-level courses.

  • A6300: Topology, Prof. Shub, MoWe 4-5:40pm. We hope all classes are in person.
  • A4900: Modern Algebra, Prof. Daugherty, MoWe 6-7:40pm. Hybrid classes, online but with in-person exams.
  • A3400: Real Analysis, Prof. Merenkov, TuTh 4-5:40pm. Class will be fully online.
  • A7800: Statistics, Prof. Chatterjee or possibly Prof. Amarasingham, TuTh 6-7:40pm. Hybrid classes, online but with in-person exams.

Important Note: The B-level Topology course has two A-level prerequisites: Math A4900 and A6300. So, if you intend to take the B-level topology, you will need to enroll in A4900 if you haven't already taken it.

In Fall 2021, we also plan to offer the following topics course:

  • Math A1203: An introduction to spectral graph theory, Prof. Jorgenson, TuTh 2-3:15pm. Fully online. For more information on the course, see this course proposal. The prerequisite is undergraduate linear algebra (Math 34600). This course is unlikely to have a B-level follow up. (This class was canceled due to low enrollment)

In Spring 2022, we anticipate offering the following topics course:

  • A6100: Differential Geometry, Prof. Cleary. Time and mode of instruction are to be determined. This course is unlikely to have a B-level follow up.

We may be able to offer an additional topics course in Spring 2022.

Notes on modes of instruction: There is still a lot of uncertainty, and how much we are able to hold in person is dependent on progress containing the virus, and on logistical issues faced by the college (since it has to run at reduced capacity). So, it is possible courses will move in the direction of more online material in Fall. Teaching modalities may change between the Fall and Spring (hopefully in the direction of more in-person interaction). Please contact the course's Professor if you have concerns about being able to continue an A-B sequence into the Spring.

What about the following academic year?

In the 2022-2023 academic year, we anticipate offering the following A/B sequences:

  • A3200 / B3200: Complex Analysis
  • A4900 / B4900: Algebra
  • A7700 / B7700: Stochastic Processes
  • A4500 / B4500: Dynamical Systems or A3500 / B3500: Differential Equations (at this time, Dynamical Systems seems more likely)

We typically offer three topics courses per year, one in Fall and two in Spring. These topics vary, but often include Number Theory, Linear Algebra, Differential Geometry, and Combinatorial Analysis. Recently, we have been able to offer courses in Numerical Analysis and Stochastic Differential Equations.

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 will be the textbook for my graduate courses?

These vary from semester to semester as they are chosen by the instructor. To find out the textbooks for a given course, please consult CUNY First. If no textbook is listed, please consult with the instructor of the course.

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 aore information is innd 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 has agreed, he/she will need to complete the independent study form and email it to the graduate advisors. The form needs to be completed and submitted well before the term starts.

Approval is up to the discretion of the graduate advisors and the chair. In general, Master's level independent studies are only granted to students who have successfully completed several Master's courses in the department and have a graduate GPA well above 3.0.

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 non-degree application is linked to on CCNY's Admissions Forms and Documents page.

What happens if I take a semester off?

If you take a semester off, you need to pay a Maintenance of Matriculation fee. If you do not maintain matriculation by paying this fee, you will need to apply for readmission. See the Maintenance of Matriculation section of the bulletin.

Return to the graduate program page