Program Introduction

Program Description

Mathematical and Computational Science is an interdepartmental undergraduate program designed as a major for students interested in the mathematical sciences, or in the use of mathematical ideas and analysis of problems in the social or management sciences. It provides a core of mathematics basic to all mathematical sciences and an introduction to the concepts and techniques of computation, optimal decision-making, probabilistic modeling, and statistical inference. It also provides an opportunity for elective work in any of the mathematical science disciplines at Stanford.

The program utilizes the faculty and courses of the departments of Computer Science, Mathematics, Management Science and Engineering, and Statistics. It prepares students for graduate study or employment in the mathematical and computational sciences or in those areas of applied mathematics which center around the use of computers and are concerned with the problems of the social and management sciences.


Mathematics, by its nature, is a broad and varied discipline, straddling virtually all fields of science. The advent of computers has further broadened the importance and impact of mathematics. As a consequence, there has been an increased demand in academic institutions and industry for employees trained in mathematics and operations research.

The goals of our program are ambitious: we aim to provide a broad and deep understanding of mathematical issues in the information sciences. The variety of topics covered in the courses making up the degree program require expertise in a wide selection of subject disciplines; by utilizing the resources of several departments in teaching the courses, we hope to give the students the best possible introduction to mathematical and information sciences.


In 1971, four professors -- Rupert Miller from Statistics, Arthur Veinott, Jr. from Operations Research, John Herriot from Computer Science, and Paul Berg from Mathematics -- created an interdisciplinary group to meet the need of having an undergraduate program for students interested in applied math.

Reflections from MCS Alumni

"I am so grateful for MCS. This dept. has been absolutely fantastic. From pizza parties to the classes to the advising, MCS has completely surpassed all my expectations for what a major department would be. If I were a freshman again, I would declare MCS the first week at Stanford. Thank you all very much for making my Stanford experience so great!"
Trevor Shaddox, 2009, UCLA Medical School

"Taking statistics classes outside of Stanford makes me appreciate my time in MCS more. I have heard the name Efron, Hastie, Tibshirani, Donoho, Diaconis so many times. I felt that I undervalued my opportunities while at Stanford a bit as I look back. The current MCS students have the finest and most unique collection of professors one can ever have. They should cherish the opportunity."
Fah Sathirapongsasuti, 2009, Harvard PhD program, Biostatistics and Computational Biology

"The MCS department is fantastic. I truly think it is the most useful, relevant, interesting, and mind-expanding major at Stanford. It does a great job of introducing a broad range of useful topics to prepare students for work, or further study. Someday, once I have made my millions, I plan to donate directly to the MCS department. Maybe then they'll even have their own building and/or classes!"

"I think MCS is one of the best majors offered at Stanford; it is a "liberal arts" major for the computationally-minded. It has served me very well and it was fun to work towards the major because the classes were easy to balance since they were so different and exciting. I really think it is a gem that showcases Stanford's best departments all under one degree. It prepared me well for my doctoral work and my postdoc".

"The breadth of areas covered and the incredible flexibility of the program to support areas of study ranging from: biostatistics, applied math, theoretical CS, pure statistics (since Stanford doesn't actually have a statistics undergraduate degree) and preparation for Economics grad school. The program is unique in its strong support for both academic and industry opportunities for its graduates. In the math department, I always felt the professors looked down on working in industry, and I never felt comfortable discussing my non-academic desires. MCS is completely different in this respect."

"Overall a great program, the only thing I would recommend is doing a better job advertising to freshman who are thinking about CS, Math Econ, or MS&E....this is a pretty good combination of everything."

"Breadth that allows students the opportunity to be exposed to a wide variety of areas and ways of thinking. It serves as an excellent launching point into a master's degree for depth to add to the unique breadth of the program."

"...MCS is demanding but because computational courses all build on each other, it's not hard to progress at a good clip. And it leaves open the time to double major (if one plans early) or do research."


Some of our graduates have received jobs ranging from Wall Street's Goldman Sachs and Solomon Brothers to Pacific Bell in San Francisco; others have been admitted to Harvard's Ph.D. programs in Biostatistics, Computational Biology and Econometrics. Some have gone on to Stanford Law School, graduate program in Statistics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and many other graduate programs. In addition, one of our graduates volunteered for Teach for America.

Graduate Study

Many of those who go on to graduate school choose a from a variety of schools, such as California Institute of Technology, Wharton School, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, MIT, Northwestern University, Stanford, in addition to in universities in the UC system.

In addition, students who continue on to graduate school pursue a range of fields of study, among them are bioinformatics, biophysics, communication, economics, engineering, law, medicine, and statistics.