For Prospective Undergraduate Students

Information for Prospective Math Majors

A recent National Science Foundation study ranked CSULB first in the nation among comprehensive universities in the number of bachelors' recipients who went on to earn doctoral degrees between 1991 and 1995.

A brief description of California State University, Long Beach California State University,

Long Beach is a comprehensive university which serves a highly diverse group of more than 30,000 students. It is located on a beautiful 322-acre campus just a few minutes from the Pacific Ocean and the Southern California beaches. The campus is in a residential area of Long Beach, the second largest city within the Los Angeles metropolitan area, which is the cultural, commercial, and professional center of Southern California. Three major freeways meet near the campus, and bus routes of both the Long Beach and Orange County transit systems bring students to the campus from large areas of Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Brief description and purpose of each Math department degree program.

Hello! We welcome your interest in the B.S. in Mathematics at CSULB. The department's Undergraduate Advising Coordinator, Dr. William Murray, does read and answer his e-mail and welcomes inquiries from prospective students. You may leave a message for him at

The CSULB Department of Mathematics administers five different undergraduate majors and two minors. The five majors are:

  • B.S. in Mathematics , also informally known as the "general option." The most flexible of our majors. May be shaped to prepare a student for a variety of further steps, including graduate study in mathematics, industrial or business employment, or teaching.
  • B.S. in Mathematics, option in Mathematics Education . Provides a student with the subject matter program for the Single Subject Teaching Credential, which is what is required to teach high school or middle school mathematics (not college level teaching - that would require a graduate degree). The credential also requires 30 units of education courses taken after the bachelor's degree is complete.
  • B.S. in Mathematics, option in Applied Mathematics, suboption in Science and Engineering . Combines coursework in mathematics with a substantial program of courses in physics and/or engineering. Prepares a student for industrial employment or graduate study in applied mathematics.
  • B.S in Mathematics, option in Applied Mathematics, suboption in Economics and Management . Combines coursework in mathematics with a substantial program of courses in economics and/or business. Can be readily adapted to a double major in Mathematics and Economics. Provides preparation for business employment, actuarial studies (link?), or graduate work in applied mathematics. Should provide a strong foundation for graduate study in economics or management.
  • B.S. in Mathematics, option in Statistics. A mathematics degree with a strong component in statistics. Provides preparation for business or industrial employment, actuarial studies , or graduate work in statistics or applied mathematics.

Advice for a prospective CSULB Math major -- entering freshmen.

High school preparation for a prospective Mathematics major should include at least four years of high school mathematics courses, at the most advanced level available to the individual student. The four-year planning guides on our advising sheets presume a student who has taken Precalculus (sometimes also called Math Analysis) in high school, has passed (or is exempt from) the ELM, and is therefore prepared to take MATH 122, Calculus I, as a first-semester freshman. It is possible to start at an earlier stage and still complete the major - many have done so - but it takes more time. We do recognize the AP calculus exams, so if you have the opportunity to take an AP calculus course, do so. A score of 3 or better on the Calculus AB level exam will earn you credit in MATH 122 and you may begin your studies here with MATH 123, Calculus II. A score of 3 or better on the Calculus BC level exam will earn you credit in MATH 122 and 123 and you may begin your studies here with MATH 224, Calculus III. On the other hand, the AP statistics exam only earns credit in a course which does not count toward any degree in mathematics. The rest of your high school courses should be selected to satisfy all CSU entrance requirements. Useful electives might include Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, and Economics.

A well-prepared freshman who is willing to take 15 to 17 units per semester and who takes at least one appropriate Mathematics course in every semester can complete the requirements for a B.S. in Mathematics in four years without the schedule of math classes being crowded or rushed in any way. For such a student, the combination of the Mathematics major requirements and the university's General Education requirements falls about 20 units short of the 124 units required for a B.S. You should regard this as an opportunity to explore another interest, possibly to complete a minor in another subject.

Advice for a community college transfer student planning to major in mathematics.

First and foremost: take a Mathematics course at the appropriate level for you in every semester of your attendance at your community college. Students who have already completed Calculus III before they transfer have a very high success rate in completing the B.S. at CSULB in 4 to 6 subsequent semesters. Students who have not yet taken Calculus I before they transfer face a much lower ultimate success rate, a timetable of 7 or more subsequent semesters, and difficulty in filling out a schedule in the first 2 or 3 semesters.

Community College courses to take to transfer as a Mathematics major:

The most important:

  • Calculus I, Calculus II, and Calculus III

Other courses that may be helpful:

  • Linear Algebra. Counts toward all five options. To be sure it transfers, ask
  • Discrete Structures. May count toward B. S. in Mathematics ("general option") and Option in Math Education. To be sure it transfers, ask
  • Physics (Calculus-prerequisite). The first semester counts toward B.S. in Mathematics ("general option"). Two semesters may count toward Option in Math Education and Option in Statistics. Three semesters count toward Option in Applied Mathematics, Suboption in Science and Engineering.
  • Computer Programming. All options require some computer-related class. For several options, we now prefer a programming course in C++. For other programming languages, ask
  • Economics (Macro- and/or Micro-economics). Counts toward Option in Applied Mathematics, Suboption in Economics and Management; may count toward Option in Statistics.
  • Foreign Language. Two semesters may count toward Option in Math Education and Option in Statistics.
  • Logic (in the Philosophy Department). May count toward Option in Math Education and Option in Statistics; in both cases, would require a second semester in Symbolic Logic, which would probably be taken at CSULB as PHIL 270 since it is rare at community colleges.

Courses that probably don't transfer for a Mathematics major, but might in a few cases:

  • Differential Equations or "Calculus IV". Most of these courses do not transfer for credit for a CSULB mathematics major. For exceptions, ask On the other hand, if this is the only mathematics course for you to take, go ahead and take it - the knowledge will help you.
  • Statistics. Lower division statistics courses do not count for any option of the B.S. in Mathematics. Our required MATH/STAT 380 is an upper division course with a Calculus III prerequisite.
  • English Composition (second course). Although we do require a second course in English Composition (ENGL 101 or 317), most community college second courses transfer as ENGL 180 and count toward GE category C2. Our intent is to have you take one more course than is required by General Education, and you'll probably have to take it at CSULB. One exception to this is that Long Beach City College ENGL 2 does count as ENGL 101 for the Mathematics major. For other exceptions, ask

In all of these cases, do not prolong your community college career just to take a course outside the Mathematics Department that might transfer for major credit. If you've run out of Math courses to take, it's time for you to transfer and to take your remaining required courses at CSULB.

Some general advice for the new (and continuing) Math major.

For an upper division Mathematics major who doesn't work excessive hours, three MATH courses in a semester (and one or two courses in other fields) is a full load; four MATH courses in a semester is an overload, and five MATH courses in a semester is crazy.

Get involved! Participate in the activities of the Math and Stat Students Association . Use your skills and knowledge to tutor high school students (check out the SAS center, or Student Access to Science for opportunities). Join the Mathematical Association of America as a student member (refer to concerning such memberships).

Don't get ahead of yourself - take courses in an appropriate order and respect our prerequisites. If you've just taken Calculus III, your next several courses should be selected from the "intermediate level" courses in the department: MATH 247 (Intro. to Linear Algebra), MATH 233 (Fundamental Concepts for Advanced Mathematics, or "Discrete Structures"), MATH 310 (History of Early Mathematics), MATH 364A (Ordinary Differential Equations I), and MATH/STAT 380 (Probability and Statistics).

Are you a night student? Many, but not all, of our required courses are offered at night. To complete the requirements for a B.S. in Mathematics, you will need to take a few day classes, but can probably take the majority of the courses at night.

Don't plan on taking upper division MATH classes in summer sessions. The only such course we routinely offer in the summer is MATH/STAT 380.