Information and Policies
Introduction
The mathematics program provides an excellent liberal arts background from which to pursue a variety of career opportunities. UCSC graduates with degrees in mathematics hold teaching posts at all levels, as well as positions in law, government, civil service, insurance, software development, business, banking, actuarial science, forensics, and other professions where skills in logic, numerical analysis, and computing are required. In particular, students of mathematics are trained in the art of problem-solving, an essential skill in all professions.
The Mathematics Bachelor of Science degree is designed for students who value the theoretical study of mathematics, not only for application, but also for its own sake. Theoretical mathematicians focus on the big how and why questions of mathematics, and attempt to find new formulae and methods while utilizing insights from a tradition of thousands of years. The mathematics B.S. is recommended for those interested in graduate study in mathematics, and those who seek a rigorous education that involves not only foundational computational skills but also rigorous explanations of how mathematics works. A well-rounded education in mathematics requires an introduction to proof class, and a balance of advanced coursework in algebra, analysis, and geometry. Majors who seek graduate study at top institutions often go beyond the required courses to enroll in graduate courses as well.
Academic Advising for the Program
The undergraduate adviser may be contacted via email at mathadvising@ucsc.edu. The adviser provides information about requirements, prerequisites, policies and procedures, learning support, scholarships, and special opportunities for undergraduate research. In addition, the adviser assists with the drafting of study plans, as well as certifying degrees and minors. Students are urged to stay informed and involved with their major, as well as to seek advice should problems arise.
The Mathematics Department website is a critical resource for students. Here you will find a link to the undergraduate program; the materials at that link constitute the undergraduate handbook. Students should visit this first to seek answers to their questions, because it hosts a wealth of information. Each student in the major is encouraged to regularly review the materials posted to stay current with requirements, course curriculum, and departmental policy. Transfer students should consult the Transfer Information and Policy section.
Getting Started in the Major
It should be emphasized that the nature of mathematics changes dramatically between lower-division and upper-division courses. Students often find that the material becomes far more abstract and theoretical. In addition, the role of computation in assignments diminishes and a greater weight is placed on deductive reasoning and the integral role of mathematical proofs. The Mathematics Department recommends that students interested in a mathematics major enroll in MATH 100 as early as prerequisites allow in order to decide whether they are interested in upper-division mathematics courses.
Program Learning Outcomes
Learning outcomes summarize the most important knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes that students are expected to develop over the course of their studies. The program learning outcomes clearly communicate the faculty’s expectations to students, provide a framework for faculty evaluation of the curriculum based on empirical data, and help improve and measure the impact of implemented changes.
Mathematics Undergraduate Student Learning Objectives
The mathematics program promotes mathematical skills and knowledge for their intrinsic beauty, effectiveness in developing proficiency in analytical reasoning, and utility in modeling and solving real-world problems. To responsibly live within and participate in the transformation of a rapidly changing, complex, and interdependent society, toward a sustainable and socially just society, students must develop and unceasingly exercise their analytical abilities. Students who have learned to logically question assertions, recognize patterns, and can distinguish the essential from the irrelevant aspects of problems can think deeply and precisely. Students equipped with these skills will be in a position to help solve the “big” problems of our time such as climate change.
Students majoring in mathematics attain proficiency in:
Critical thinking. The ability to identify, reflect upon, evaluate, integrate, and apply different types of information and knowledge to form independent judgments including analytical and logical thinking and the habit of drawing conclusions based on quantitative information.
Problem solving. The ability to assess and interpret complex situations, choose among several potentially appropriate mathematical methods of solution, persist in the face of difficulty, and present full and cogent solutions that include appropriate justification for their reasoning.
Effective communication. The ability to communicate and interact effectively with different audiences, collaborate intellectually and creatively in diverse contexts, and appreciate ambiguity and nuance, while emphasizing the importance of clarity and precision in communication and reasoning.
Students acquire and enhance these abilities in mathematical contexts, but the acquired habits of rigorous thought and creative problem solving are invaluable in all aspects of life. These skills are acquired through experience in the context of studying specific mathematical topics and exploring problems chosen to challenge students’ abilities, spurring them on to acquire new techniques and to abandon familiar but restrictive habits of thought. The overarching objectives can be realized in terms of more focused, appraisable objectives specific to mathematics described on the Mathematics Department website.
Curriculum Matrix
All of the key objectives are addressed to some extent in all courses. For example, the ability to formulate precise mathematical statements and to reason logically are essential skills that are progressively developed throughout the curriculum. However, some skills are more heavily emphasized and utilized in some courses than in others. Some courses are specifically intended to help students move to a new level of proficiency with a particular portfolio of skills, while others are accessible only to students who have already reached a given level; the latter courses make heavy use of particular skills, and thus enhance and reinforce the student’s mastery of them, but the skills themselves are not the primary focus of such courses. Some connections between the key objectives, main subject-specific areas, and courses are indicated in the tables of lower- and upper-division mathematics courses at the Mathematics Department’s website.
Major Qualification Policy and Declaration Process
While enrolled in or after finishing the final required qualification courses a student should follow the directions to apply on the Mathematics Department Major Declaration webpage.
Major Qualification
Admission to the Mathematics B.S. major is contingent on students successfully passing the following introductory courses or their equivalents:
Choose one of the following courses:
MATH 19A | Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics | 5 |
MATH 20A | Honors Calculus | 5 |
Plus one of the following courses:
MATH 19B | Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics | 5 |
MATH 20B | Honors Calculus | 5 |
Plus all of the following courses:
It is strongly recommended that only students who earn grades of B- or better in MATH 100 consider applying to the major in mathematics.
Students may only declare once they have passed all introductory courses or their equivalent courses with a grade of C or better. Students who receive two grades of NP, C-, D+, D, D-, or F in the introductory courses are not eligible to declare in the major.
Appeal Process
Students who are not eligible to declare may submit an appeal to the department's undergraduate vice chair. See the department webpage for details on submitting an appeal. Students are strongly encouraged to file an appeal as soon as a student is no longer qualified to declare. The mathematics adviser will subsequently notify the student, and their college, of the decision, no later than 15 business days after the submission of the appeal. An appeal decision may be in the form of an approval, denial or conditional approval. For students who have not completed all of the major qualification courses, conditional approvals are based on subsequent performance in the remainder of the qualification courses.
How to Declare a Major
See the Mathematics Department website for directions on How To Declare the Major.
Transfer Information and Policy
Transfer Admission Screening Policy
The following courses or their equivalents are required prior to transfer, by the end of the spring term for students planning to enter in the fall.
MATH 19A | Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics | 5 |
MATH 19B | Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics | 5 |
MATH 21 | Linear Algebra | 5 |
MATH 23A | Vector Calculus | 5 |
Students planning to transfer to UCSC from a California community college should reference the assist website to determine which courses are equivalent to these required courses.
Recommended Course for Transfer Students
In addition, the following course is recommended prior to transfer to ensure timely graduation.
MATH 24 | Ordinary Differential Equations | 5 |
Prospective students are encouraged to prioritize recommended major preparation, and may additionally complete courses that articulate to UC Santa Cruz general education requirements as time allows.
Getting Started at UCSC as a Transfer Student
While enrolled in or after finishing the final required qualification courses, a student should follow the directions to apply to declare the major on the Mathematics Department Major Declaration webpage.
To obtain equivalency for MATH 23A, transfer students will have taken a course that may also be equivalent to MATH 23B. Students are encouraged to contact the undergraduate adviser to determine if this applies to their situation.
Letter Grade Policy
There are no restrictions on grading options for Mathematics Department courses. Please see the UCSC-wide policies on grading options.
Course Substitution Policy
The Mathematics Department undergraduate vice chair approves requests for course substitutions. See the department website for details on requesting an exception to policy or course substitution.
Honors
Honors in the Mathematics Department are awarded to graduating students whose academic performance in the major demonstrates excellence at a GPA of 3.5 or above. Highest Honors are determined by a cumulative review of student performance in mathematics courses. They are awarded to students who excel in challenging courses and in their capstone projects.