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This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Bachelor of Science in Mathematics

The following department requirements are in addition to the University's basic requirements for the bachelor's degree:

Students wishing to major in Mathematics must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Department of Mathematics courses (other than MATH 100) totaling at least 49 units credit; such courses must be taken for a letter grade. For the purposes of this requirement, STATS 116, PHIL 151, and PHIL 152 count as Department of Mathematics courses.
  2. Additional courses taken from Department of Mathematics courses numbered 101 and above or from approved courses in other disciplines with significant mathematical content, totaling at least 15 units credit. At least 9 of these units must be taken for a letter grade.
  3. A Department of Mathematics adviser must be selected, and the courses selected under items '1' and '2' above must be approved by the department's director of undergraduate study, acting under guidelines laid down by the department's Committee for Undergraduate Affairs. The Department of Mathematics adviser can be any member of the department's faculty.
  4. To receive the department's recommendation for graduation, a student must have been enrolled as a major in the Department of Mathematics for a minimum of two full quarters, including the quarter immediately before graduation. Students are encouraged to declare as early as possible, preferably by the end of the sophomore year.

Students are normally expected to complete either the sequence 19, 20, 21 or the sequence 41, 42 (but not both). Students with an Advanced Placement score of at least 4 in BC math or 5 in AB math may receive 10 units credit and fulfill requirement '1' by taking at least 39 units of Department of Mathematics courses numbered 51 and above. Students with an Advanced Placement score of at least 3 in BC math or at least 4 in AB math may receive 5 units credit and fulfill requirement '1' by taking at least 44 units of Department of Mathematics courses numbered 42 and above.

Sophomore seminar courses may be counted among the choice of courses under item '1'. Other variations of the course requirements laid down above (under items '1' and '2') may, in some circumstances, be allowed. For example, students transferring from other universities may be allowed credit for some courses completed before their arrival at Stanford. However, at least 24 units of the 49 units under item '1' above and 9 of the units under item '2' above must be taken at Stanford. In all cases, approval for variations in the degree requirements must be obtained from the department's Committee for Undergraduate Affairs. Application for such approval should be made through the department's director of undergraduate studies. The policy of the Mathematics Department is that no courses other than the MATH 50 series and below may be double-counted toward any other University major or minor.

It is to be emphasized that the above regulations are minimum requirements for the major; students contemplating graduate work in mathematics are strongly encouraged to include the courses 116, 120, 121, 147 or 148, and 171 in their selection of courses, and in addition, take at least three Department of Mathematics courses over and above the minimum requirements laid out under items '1' and '2' above, including at least one 200-level course. Such students are also encouraged to consider the possibility of taking the honors program, discussed below.

To help develop a sense of the type of course selection (under items '1' and '2' above) that would be recommended for math majors with various backgrounds and interests, see the following examples. These represent only a few of a very large number of possible combinations of courses that could be taken in fulfillment of the Mathematics major requirements:

Example 1—A general program (a balanced program of both pure and applied components, without any particular emphasis on any one field of mathematics or applications) as follows:

  1. either MATH 19, 20, and 21, or 41 and 42 (or satisfactory Advanced Placement credit); 51, 52, 53; 104 or 113; 106; 109; 110; 115;
  2. plus any selection of at least eight of the following courses, including three Department of Mathematics courses: MATH 108, 131, 132, 143, 146, 147, 148, 152, 161; CS 137; ECON 50; PHYSICS 41, 43, 45; STATS 116. These courses from other departments are only meant as examples; there are many suitable courses in several departments that can be taken to fulfill part or all of requirement '2.'

Example 2—A theoretical program recommended for those contemplating possible later graduate work providing an introduction to the main areas of mathematics both broader and deeper than the general program outlined above:

  1. either MATH 19, 20 and 21, or 41 and 42 (or satisfactory Advanced Placement credit)
  2. either the sequence 51, 52, 53, or the sequence 51H, 52H, 53H; 106 or 116; 113; 120; 171
  3. plus nine or more 3-unit math courses numbered 121 or higher (the logic courses PHIL 151 and PHIL 152 are considered to be such courses), including at least one algebra course, one analysis course, and one geometry/topology course. (See the description of the honors program below.)

In addition, those contemplating eventual graduate work in Mathematics should consider including at least one graduate-level math course such as MATH 205A, 210A, or 215A or B. Such students should also consider the possibility of entering the honors program.

Example 3*—An applied mathematics program:

  1. either MATH 19, 20, and 21; or 41 and 42 (or satisfactory Advanced Placement credit); 51, 52, 53; 104; 106; 108; 109; 110; 115; 131; 132; STATS 116
  2. plus at least 15 units of additional courses in Applied Mathematics, including, for example, suitable courses from the departments of Physics, Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, and Statistics.

* Students with interests in applied mathematics, but desiring a broader-based program than the type of program suggested in Example 3, including significant computational and/or financial and/or statistical components, are encouraged to also consider the Mathematics and Computational Science program.


The honors program is intended for students who have strong theoretical interests and abilities in mathematics. The goal of the program is to give students a thorough introduction to the main branches of mathematics, especially analysis, algebra, and geometry. Through the honors thesis, students may be introduced to a current or recent research topic, although occasionally more classical projects are encouraged. The program provides an excellent background with which to enter a master's or Ph.D. program in Mathematics. Students completing the program are awarded a B.S. in Mathematics with Honors.

It is recommended that the sequence 51H, 52H, 53H be taken in the freshman year. To graduate with a B.S. in Mathematics with Honors, the following conditions apply in addition to the usual requirements for math majors:

  1. The selection of courses under items '1' and '2' above must contain MATH 106 or 116, MATH 120, and MATH 171 and must also include seven additional 3-unit Math courses numbered 121 or higher. (The logic courses PHIL 151 and 152 can also be used.) These seven courses must include at least one algebra course (121, 122, 152, 154, or 155), one analysis course (131P, 132, 136, 151, 172, 173, or 175), and one geometry/topology course (143, 145, 146, 147, or 148).
  2. Students in the honors program must write a senior thesis. In order to facilitate this, the student must, by the end of the junior year, choose an undergraduate thesis adviser from the Department of Mathematics faculty, and map out a concentrated reading program under the direction and guidance of the adviser. During the senior year, the student must enroll in MATH 197 for a total of 6 units (typically spread over two quarters), and work toward completion of the thesis under the direction and guidance of the thesis adviser. The thesis may contain original material, or be a synthesis of work in current or recent research literature. The 6 units of credit for MATH 197 are required in addition to the course requirements laid out under items '1' and '2' above and in addition to all other requirements for math majors.

In addition to the minimum requirements laid out above, it is strongly recommended that students take at least one graduate-level course (that is, at least one course in the 200 plus range). MATH 205A, 210A, and 215A or B are especially recommended in this context.

Students with questions about the honors program should see the director of undergraduate advising.

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