Introduction

The essential feature of the Combined Degree Program is that its students may use up to 9 credits of coursework taken for their undergraduate degree to count toward the M.A. degree as well.

Eligibility

The Mathematics Department offers a combined B.S./M.A. degree program for students with exceptional ability and interest in mathematics. Qualified undergraduate mathematics majors are eligible for participation in the program. Although each application is reviewed individually, the following are the usual requirements for acceptance into this program:

  • GPA of at least 3.5
  • No more than 15 credits remaining of required upper-level mathematics courses toward the B.S. degree
  • No more than 6 credits of CORE requirements remaining for the B.S. degree
  • One to three letters of recommendation
  • An essay or statement of purpose
  • An interview with the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies and the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies.

The bureaucracy of degree times

To the University, you are an undergraduate or a graduate; the bureaucratic hive mind, computing various consequences, chooses not to create a really different category for a student in the combined program. So, if you are a student in the combined degree program, you are required to graduate with the B.S. at some point, and then to be a graduate student for at least two academic year semesters.

When you graduate with the B.S., of course you must have satisfied the B.S. requirements. Satisfaction of the M.A. requirements is a trickier matter, because the usual M.A. requires those 30 grad credits to be taken while a grad student. But you might take 600-700 level courses before the graduation with B.S., and want to count that work toward your combined degree.

The University created a policy to deal with this: an undergraduate is allowed to take up to a total of 12 credits (maximum of 6 credits per semester) of graduate level courses "for graduate credit only". Such courses cannot be used to satisfy any part of the Bachelor's degree requirements, but can be "banked" for later use to satisfy graduate degree requirements. To bank graduate courses you need to apply for permission before taking the courses. There is a form for this called Graduate Credit Permission Form which you can download from the Graduate School website.   On the same webpage there is a form called Combined Bachelor's/Master's Form which you use to indicate the courses (up to 9 credits) from your BS degree which will also be used for the MA degree.    Only graduate courses may be shared.  This form should be completed and approved before you graduate with the BS degree.

All other credits taken toward the graduate degree must be taken after completion of the Bachelor's Degree.

Example Programs

There is a wide variation in coursework and acceleration among students pursuing the combined degree option, and the examples below are not at all exhaustive. In particular, most BS/MA Math students actually take more than two Math classes in some semesters, and on the other hand there can be somewhat less fast-paced paths to the combined degree.   All examples assume that 9 credits of courses taken for the BS degree have been counted towards the MA degree.  In the tables, "thesis" refers to 6 credits of master's thesis research.   Although it is listed for a specific semester, normally the thesis work would be spread out over at least 2 semesters.

Example 1:
Here a student enters the University with Advanced Placement credit for Math 140 (Calculus I). It is compatible with the "M.A. with thesis" option, if the student gets the B.S. after Year 4, but "banks" one of the two sequences of Year 4 for graduate credit only.

Year 1   Year 2   Year 3   Year 4   Year 5  

Fall

Spring Fall Spring Fall Spring

Fall

Spring

Fall

Spring
Math 141 Math 240 Math 246 Math 463 Math 403 Math 462 Math 600 Math 601 Math 660 thesis
  Math 241 Math 410 Math 411 Amsc 466 Math 405 Math 630 Math 631 Math 730 Math 734

Example 2:
Here the student enters the University with AP credit for Math 140 and Math 141, and takes the special honors sequence Math 340-341 (which covers the courses Math 240,241 and 246 with enrichment). The courses below could fit an extremely strong student developing an interest in topology and geometry. The particular course sequence is compatible with the taking of qualifying exams (analysis, topology and algebra) in time for graduation, and thus fits into the "M.A. without thesis" requirements.

Year 1   Year 2   Year 3   Year 4   Year 5  

Fall

Spring Fall Spring Fall Spring

Fall

Spring

Fall

Spring
Math 340 Math 341 Math 410 Math 411 Math 630 Math 631 Math 660 Stat 410 Math 600 Math 601
    Math 405 Math 403 AMSC 466 Math 463 Math 730 Math 734 Math 740 Math 742

Example3:
Here a strong student develops a strong interest in Logic and writes a masters thesis in Logic.

Year 1   Year 2   Year 3   Year 4   Year 5  

Fall

Spring Fall Spring Fall Spring

Fall

Spring

Fall

Spring
Math 340 Math 341 Math 410 Math 411 Math 630 Math 631 Math 710 Math 463 Math 600 Math 601
    Math 405 Math 403 AMSC 466 Math 446 Math 712 Math 713 thesis Math 660

Example 4:
Here a strong student writes a masters thesis in Applied Statistics.

Year 1   Year 2   Year 3   Year 4   Year 5  

Fall

Spring Fall Spring Fall Spring

Fall

Spring

Fall

Spring
Math 340 Math 341 Math 410 Math 411 STAT 410 STAT 420 STAT 700 STAT 701 STAT 740 STAT 741
    Math 405 AMSC 466 STAT 430 STAT 440 STAT 600 STAT 601 thesis STAT 770

The examples above don't list all the courses needed to satisfy degree requirements. For the Math BS/MA, a student would have to complete the following at the required grade point levels:

  • An approved three course "supporting sequence"
  • the University's CORE requirements;
  • a total of 141 credits (the B.S. requires 120 credits and the M.A. requires 30; the total is only 141 on account of the 9 credit overlap allowance)

Timetable and mechanics

An undergraduate math major interested in the joint Bachelor's/Masters program should discuss it well in advance with the departmental advisor (Ida Chan), generally not later than Spring of the junior year (and preferably sooner, as there are those considerations of banking courses "for graduate credit only" ahead of time). At some point the student should submit a formal application to the program. At this point the department may reject the student, or issue a conditional acceptance, with a list of conditions for acceptance. (The graduate school admission process is not controlled by the department, and will generally take place in the fourth year; a conditional acceptance meanwhile serves to clarify and formalize the student's situation.)

During at least the final two semesters of the Bachelor's/Masters program, the student must be registered as a graduate student in Mathematics. So, the student must submit an application to the graduate school in advance of deadlines; for the five year program, this would generally be done in Fall of the fourth year. Admission to graduate school in Mathematics requires both University and departmental approval. The key requirements for University admission are a Bachelor's degree and an acceptable GPA.

Formal Application

The student's formal application to the combined degree program is a letter to the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in Mathematics, and (depending on whether the M.A. is in Math or Stat) to the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies in Mathematics or the Director of the Statistics Program. The letter should convey the following information:

  • statement of purpose for pursuing the combined degree
  • 1 to 3 faculty references
  • plan of courses (and thesis, if applicable) for completion of the degree requirements, with indication of courses which are to be used "for graduate credit only" and courses which are to be "double counted."
  • date for graduating with the BS
  • indication of the thesis advisor or area, if this has been decided
Students should also submit an application through the Graduate School: See here.

Applied Mathematics

Under a separate University policy allowing the development of individualized combined Bachelor's/Masters programs, it is possible to earn a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics along with a Masters in Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computation (AMSC, formerly MAPL). The interdisciplinary AMSC graduate program requirements are themselves tailored to individual student interests. Each student's study plan is developed together with an individually appointed Study Advisory Committee for approval by the AMSC Graduate Committee. Students interested in this option should consult the AMSC Director, in room 3101 in the Mathematics building, at the earliest opportunity.

For more information, please contact Ida Chan at (301) 405-7582, or ugadvisor @math.umd.edu.