San Diego State University

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Advising Information



Advisors:       Dr. Stephen Hui, for emphasis in Communications Mathematics

              Drs. Antonio Palacios and Ricardo Carretero, for emphasis in Dynamical Systems

Dr. Peter Salamon for other areas within Applied Mathematics



The Master of Science in Applied Mathematics has three tracks. Two of the tracks (Communications Mathematics and Dynamical Systems) require students to follow carefully prescribed courses of study. These programs are described in detail at the links above.  and are described elsewhere. The third track is designed for flexibility in an effort to recognize that applied mathematics is in fact a very broad discipline with many possible areas of application.


The student electing to focus on other areas is expected to have seriously thought about their career options and put together a program that makes sense for their chosen career path. Examples of recent career path choices using this option include biomathematics, financial mathematics, control and optimization, and preparation for teaching at the community college level and preparation for a PhD program. A graduate adviser must approve the chosen program of study.


Applications:  Applications to the Applied Mathematics program can be filed online at the web pages of the Office of Admissions. The Graduate Record Examination (aptitude only) is required.


Preparation:  In preparation for the degree it is expected that the student has a knowledge of the following (SDSU course numbers shown): upper division Linear Algebra (524) 1 semester; Advanced Calculus (534 A&B) 2 semesters; Numerical Analysis (541) 1 semester, Probability and/or Statistics (550 and/or 551A) 1 semester, Differential Equations (537) 1 semester. Programming proficiency in some language on some machine.


Deficiencies may be made up, but at most one course from the above list can count toward the degree unit requirements. Deficiencies are to be completed within the first year unless scheduling difficulties make this impossible. Students in our program come from a variety of backgrounds. It is not unusual that many of the students will need to take one or more of the preparatory courses (524, 534 A & B, 541, 537, 551A).


It is also recommended that the student possess a background in several of the following areas: Mathematical Modeling (336); Partial Differential Equations (531); Numerical Analysis (542); Mathematical Statistics (55lB); Complex Analysis (532); Abstract Algebra (521A); at least one year of coursework in a field of application such as Physics, Biology, Engineering, etc.


Financial Aid:  The Department of Mathematical Sciences offers teaching assistantships for the support of qualified students. Applications should include transcripts and two letters of recommendation. Applications must be submitted to the Department Chairperson. (Teaching assistants normally teach two lower division sections (6 units) per semester from pre-calculus mathematics or statistics.) There are a limited number of research assistantships available for students, but these are primarily for second year students working with a faculty member who has a research grant.


General Requirements: General requirements for unclassified graduate standing, classified standing, and advancement to candidacy are described in the Graduate Bulletin. To assist with advising, the student is expected to write a short description (100‑200 words) of his or her particular interests and expectations from the program. Based on this description, an appropriate faculty member will be consulted to help design the student's program. After the first year of study, the student should select a faculty member as an adviser whose interests parallel his or hers for advanced study leading to a thesis or research project By the end of the first year the student should file an Official Program which has been approved by the graduate adviser. See the Graduate Bulletin for more details on filing the Official Program of study.


Course Requirements:  Candidates must take 30 units of adviser‑approved upper division and graduate courses. All programs must include at least 21 units in Math & Stats and at least 18 units selected from 600 and 700‑ number courses. At most, six units in Mathematics 797, 798 and 799 will be accepted for credit toward the degree.


Most students are encouraged to take a spectrum of courses covering many areas of Applied Mathematics. These courses include Mathematical Modeling (636), Numerical Analysis (542, 543, 693a, 693b), and Mathematical Statistics (670a, 670b). Students who have specific objectives should prepare a special program in consultation with the faculty member who is supervising their thesis or project. This latter option is especially important for students who plan to pursue a Ph.D.


By the end of the first year, the student should select a faculty member as an advisor whose research interests best parallel his or hers. The faculty member will help the student select courses for the remainder of his or her program. The student may be asked to enroll in a Technical Writing course (English 503W) or to show other evidence of proficiency in technical writing, if the adviser feels that this course is desirable before the student begins to write the thesis or project.


For students who wish to study a certain area in Applied Mathematics not covered by the current curriculum, a special study (Math 798) on the subject can be taken under the direction of a faculty member. Students should check each semester for special seminar courses (Math 720), which are offered on topics of current interest.


Students must select Plan A in the graduate program and produce a Masters thesis (799A). Under this plan, the student will write a thesis under the direction of an officially appointed thesis committee of three (or more) faculty members, which must include a least one member from outside the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. The thesis requires a public oral defense. Details on thesis preparation are discussed in the Graduate Bulletin.


Petition:  A student may petition the Graduate Committee of the Department of Mathematical Sciences for exception to one or more requirements. The student should be aware, however, that good reasons are necessary in order to obtain approval of a petition.