Department of Mathematics

some math pictures

The M.A. Program in Mathematics

The Master of Arts in Mathematics at SFSU offers students the opportunity to study advanced mathematics under the guidance of a faculty encompassing many different areas of research. Classes are small, usually fewer than 20, and graduate students pursue their own mathematical interests through seminars and research projects with faculty members.

The expected completion time for the program is two years. After graduation, students enroll in Ph.D. programs, seek employment in the San Francisco Bay Area's technology and financial industries, or at one of California's 110 community colleges.

Support for graduate students is provided through teaching assistantships and scholarships. For many students, teaching is an important part of their career preparation. At SFSU, graduate student instructors manage all aspects of their classes.

San Francisco State University is a large comprehensive urban university enrolling about 7000 graduate students in 124 different Master's degree and credential programs. The campus is located in an unusually vibrant and beautiful city with a rich intellectual and cultural life. Graduates find opportunities in nearby Silicon Valley, home to many of the world's leading technology companies, in downtown San Francisco's large financial and insurance industry, and in a thriving biotechnology sector.

San Francisco State University is strongly committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. Applications are encouraged from underrepresented groups.

For more general information, contact the Graduate Coordinator Dr. Chun-Kit Lai. You are encouraged to contact individual faculty members if you have specific questions about their research activities.


Admission Requirements & Application Procedures

Admission to the program requires an undergraduate degree but not necessarily in mathematics. Many students with minors in math have succeeded in the SFSU graduate program. Successful applicants are expected to have completed three semesters of calculus, linear algebra, and three upper division math courses, including modern algebra and real analysis, with a grade of B or better. However, an applicant who is deficient in one of those courses may be admitted conditionally on passing it satisfactorily during the first calendar year of study.

Information on how to apply along with on-line application forms are available from the Graduate School. Applicants must contact all colleges and universities where they have been enrolled and order official transcripts for SFSU. Applicants for fellowships and teaching positions must submit at least two letters of recommendation. These letters may be from academic supervisors, past employers or anyone else who can address the applicant's qualifications for graduate study in mathematics. Applicants may submit these with their applications.


Application Deadlines

  • Priority Deadline for the Fall semester is March 1. The Mathematics Department will continue to review applications on a space available basis.
  • Priority Deadline for the Spring semester is October 1. The Mathematics Department will continue to review applications on a space available basis.

General information about graduate studies at San Francisco State University can be obtained from the university web page or by calling 415.338.2234. International students should contact the Office of International Programs, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, 94132, USA. Their phone number is 415.338.1293, and they have a very informative web page.


Course Requirements

The basic requirement for the MA degree is 30 units of approved coursework in mathematics, following these guidelines:

  1. Complete Math 735 and Math 770. If students have taken a second semester abstract algebra or real analysis courses in the past, they may consult the graduate coordinator to determine whether these courses should be taken or not. If Math 735 or Math 770 are waived, other courses need to be substituted to fulfill the 30 units requirement
  2. Complete three out of the following four course options:
    • Math 710
    • Math 725
    • Math 850
    • Math 711 or Math 730.
  3. Among the 30 units, at least 70% from graduate courses, at least 50% from unpaired graduate courses, at most 30% from (approved) undergraduate courses. In addition to the requirements in 1. and 2., select an additional three units from unpaired graduate courses other than 898 or 899.
  4. Students who have not already completed a complex analysis course with a B or better will need to take Math 380 or Math 730. Note that Math 380 will not count towards the 30-unit requirement.
  5. At most 6 units of Math 899 Graduate Independent Study can be counted towards the MA. Math 699 Undergraduate Independent Study cannot be counted towards the MA.
  6. At most 6 transfer units can be counted towards an MA. Transfer units must be approved by the graduate coordinator and fulfill the requirement of the graduate division as listed in the application form.

Students who have not passed the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment with a score of 4 or better are encouraged to take Math 729 Communicating Mathematics to satisfy the Level One Written English Proficiency Requirement. Alternatively, students can also take University's Graduate Essay Test prior to their first semester of study or enroll SCI 614. The latter can only be taken through the College of Extended Learning and may not count as units towards the degree.


Culminating Experience

In addition to coursework, the MA degree requires a culminating experience, for which there are two options:

Graduate study at SFSU is guided by the philosophy that graduate students should develop and pursue their own mathematical interests. As much choice as possible is provided in the approved courses, including courses in other disciplines like computer science, the physical and biological sciences, and philosophy. The culminating experience, too, is largely guided by the students own background and interest.

Important deadlines and graduation requirements/timeline

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