ARCHIVED CATALOG: Visit to view the 2023-2024 General Catalog.

UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara


Division of Mathematical, Life, and Physical Sciences
South Hall 6607
Undergraduate e-mail:
Graduate e-mail:
Department Chair: Stephen Bigelow


Mathematics has been called the queen and the servant of the sciences. As an independent discipline, it was first developed by the ancient Greeks, to whom we owe the notion of the “mathematical proof.” In the late seventeenth century, Newton developed calculus to serve as a tool in his treatment of mechanics, allowing him to correctly predict the motion of the planets. This astonishing success definitively demonstrated that mathematics is the ideal language for constructing exact quantitative theories. Today mathematics plays an absolutely fundamental role in physics, economics, and engineering, and plays an ever greater role in fields such as astronomy, chemistry, geology, finance, meteorology, cryptology, ecology, computer science, the social sciences, and a host of other areas. Yet mathematics is also vibrant as a study in its own right, alive with beautiful problems and ongoing developments. These may not be initially motivated by applications, but history indicates that many of the purely mathematical developments of today will become essential to the sciences of the future.

The Department of Mathematics offers five undergraduate programs; B.S. and B.A. degrees in mathematics, a B.S. degree in mathematical sciences; and in conjunction with the Program in Applied Statistics and Probability, a B.S. in financial mathematics and statistics.

The Department of Mathematics offers two distinct minor programs. These programs allow non-majors to supplement their majors with cohesive course of study that reflects their interests. To ensure appropriate advising and planning, students who are considering a minor in mathematics should consult the department as soon as possible.

The department offers graduate programs leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. In addition, it offers a wide variety of service courses needed as a foundation for study in the sciences, in engineering, and in other fields.

Academic advisors are available in the department office to answer questions about the department and other academic matters. Detailed information about the majors is available in the Department of Mathematics office, 6607 South Hall. The mathematics website ( is designed to keep students and faculty informed about current seminars, colloquia, and special events.

Various prizes and awards are offered each year to outstanding majors in mathematics. These include the Raymond L. Wilder award and student memberships in the Mathematical Association of America. Each award is given on the basis of academic excellence in the mathematics program.

Students with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics who are interested in pursuing a California Teaching Credential should contact the credential advisor in the Graduate School of Education as soon as possible (

Mathematics Placement Exam

Students who do not have AP, IB, or A-Level credit must take the Mathematics Placement Exam (MPE) offered online at A minimum score of 2 on the MPE is required for enrollment in Mathematics 2A and a minimum score of 3 is required for enrollment in Mathematics 3A. The exam is not required for Math 34A.

 Results on the MPE are substantially improved by reviewing algebra and trigonometry prior to taking the exam. Pre-calculus review topics can be found online at for your convenience. 

The department strictly enforces the requirement of a grade of “C” or better in any course prerequisite to Mathematics 2B, 3B, 4A-B, 6A-B, 8, and 34B

Honors Program in Mathematics

To enter the honors program in mathematics, a student must have completed 120 units of coursework with an overall grade-point average of at least 3.5 and at least 24 upper-division mathematics and statistics units with a grade-point average of at least 3.5 (excluding Mathematics 100A-B, 193, 195A-B, and PSTAT 133A-B-C and 193). To complete the honors program, the student must maintain a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in all upper-division and graduate mathematics and statistics courses (excluding Mathematics 100A-B, 193, 195A-B, and PSTAT 133A-B-C and 193) and as well as complete one of the following: (a) a senior thesis, Math 197A-B; (b) a two-quarter graduate sequence; or (c) together with an advisor, submit a Distinction in the Major proposal for an interdisciplinary program of three mathematically oriented courses outside the math department to the undergraduate committee for its approval. Option C does not apply to economics/mathematics or financial mathematics majors. Distinction in the Major for each option will be awarded at graduation pending final approval by the Department of Mathematics Undergraduate Committee. Written projects will be submitted to the committee, and grades will be evaluated for coursework options. To apply for the Honors Program in Mathematics, please email the Mathematics Undergraduate Advisors at

Subject Matter Preparation Program in Mathematics - CSET Waiver for California Single Subject Preliminary Teaching Credential

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) requires that all secondary mathematics teachers in the state demonstrate the content knowledge necessary to effectively teach mathematics to students in grades 7-12. The UCSB Department of Mathematics offers a CTC-approved Subject Matter Preparation Program in Mathematics (SMPP) in an effort to provide undergraduates seeking admission to credential programs the mathematics expertise they require. Undergraduates who complete the SMPP are not required to pass the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) to earn a Preliminary Teaching Credential in Mathematics. For more information please visit

Undergraduate Program

As preparation for entering any of the undergraduate mathematics programs, students should have completed two years of algebra along with courses in plane geometry and trigonometry in high school. In the first two years at UCSB, all students who major in mathematics must complete the appropriate pre-major requirements. All prospective majors and pre-majors must meet with the Undergraduate Advisor, prior to admission to full major status, to discuss career opportunities and degree options and to design an upper-division course program. Admission to full major status will be granted only after this meeting has been documented. Samples of recommended programs for each degree option are available in the Department of Mathematics Undergraduate Handbook.