Math Capped Status

All majors within the Department of Mathematics have become ‘capped’.

This means:

  • A limited number of spaces will be available specifically for New Freshman.
  • A limited number of spaces will be available specifically for Entering Transfer Students.
  • A limited number of spaces will be available specifically for Continuing Students after completion of a set of screening courses.

Any student not admitted directly into a Math major as a New Freshman or Transfer student, or not currently declared as a Math major, will need to complete a set of screening courses with a C- or higher and with a minimum GPA of 2.5 in those five courses before being eligible to apply to the majors.

The required screening courses are:

  1. Math 18 Linear Algebra (formerly numbered Math 20F) or Math 31AH Honors Linear Algebra
  2. Math 20A Calculus/Science & Engineering
  3. Math 20B Calculus/Science & Engineering
  4. Math 20C Calculus & Analytic Geometry/Science & Engineering or Math 31BH Honors Multivariable Calculus
  5. Math 20D Intro to Differential Equations

(See descriptions of the above courses in the UC San Diego General Catalog.)

Students who have completed the screening courses may submit an application through the UCSD TritonLink Major/Minor Tool. Incoming students will have access to the Major/Minor Tool as soon as they have registered for Fall Quarter courses.

The Mathematics faculty have determined that students who want to declare a math major must first complete this foundational material in order to prepare them for success in their upper-division courses.

The above criteria apply to all students seeking a major in Mathematics effective Fall 2016.

The major codes affected are:

  1. MA27 Mathematics (Applied)
  2. MA29 Mathematics
  3. MA30 Mathematics-Computer Science
  4. MA31 Mathematics-Applied Science
  5. MA32 Mathematics-Secondary Education
  6. MA33 Joint Major in Mathematics and Economics
  7. MA34 Mathematics-Scientific Computation
  8. MA35 Probability and Statistics

For curriculum information and policies regarding each of the majors, please see the UC San Diego General Catalog.

UCSD Math Department Capped Status FAQ

Q: Why is the Math Department doing this?

A: This can best be answered with some simple numbers:

  • In Fall 2012 we had 572 Math majors
  • In Fall 2013 we had 734 Math majors
  • In Fall 2014 we had 1,058 Math majors
  • In Fall 2015 we had 1,724 Math majors
  • In Fall 2016 we had 2,395 Math majors

Since 2013 our major enrollment has been increasing at a drastic and unsustainable pace. In order to establish some controls and keep our upper-division course sizes manageable and maintain basic academic standards, we need to slow our growth (not stop it altogether). We do not intend to shrink our program, or keep students away from the study of Mathematics.



Q: How do I declare a major in the Department of Mathematics?

A: Acceptance into any capped major is based on academic excellence demonstrated in high school and/or community college. Admission will be granted to the maximum number of students consistent with maintaining acceptable program quality and in compliance with admissions procedures and criteria. Undergraduate admission is granted by the Office of Admissions and Relations with Schools and not the Mathematics department.


Q: I didn’t get into my first choice major, can I declare a Math major before I start at UCSD?

A: If you did not gain entry to your first choice major at the time of your admissions decision, you cannot retroactively make Mathematics your second choice. You will instead need to follow the same procedure as a continuing student and apply for a change of major after completing all lower-division screening coursework.


Q: I took some or all of the screening courses through some combination of Transfer Work, AP, IB or A-levels. Can I still declare a major in the Department of Mathematics?

A: Yes. Review your Academic History to ensure that your scores have been received, evaluated, and posted to your Academic History prior to submitting your request for entry to a major to the Mathematics Department. The Mathematics staff will review your completed coursework as a whole and weigh your non-graded credit accordingly. Remember, our purpose in screening is not to keep people out – but to make sure those that get in are completely prepared and have shown some dedication to the major.



Q: How do I declare a major in the Department of Mathematics?

A: Students must first complete the five lower-division screening courses as outlined above, and then use the Major/Minor Tool on TritonLink to request entrance to one of the majors in the Department of Mathematics. All courses in the criteria must be completed, with C- or higher grades posted, for a student to request entrance to a major in the Department of Mathematics. Students may receive approval to declare a major in the department only after the department has completed the review process to ensure that the grade criteria has been met. Requests will be reviewed during the fifth week of each quarter.


Q: When can I declare a major in Mathematics?

A: Interested students are encouraged to apply as soon as they have completed the screening courses. As indicated we will review all student requests submitted through the Major/Minor Tool beginning on Monday of the fifth week of each quarter (Fall/Winter/Spring). Applications need to be submitted by 11:59pm Sunday of fifth week in order to be reviewed that quarter. Based on number of students accepted into the majors during the year, we may have a summer review period. Decisions will be made no later than Friday of fifth week.

For 2017-18 the Application and Review Periods will be as follows:

Quarter Application Period Review Period
Fall 2017 5/1/17 – 10/29/17 10/30/17 – 11/3/17
Winter 2018 10/30/17 – 2/4/18 2/5/18 – 2/9/18
Spring 2018 2/5/18 – 4/29/18 4/30/18 – 5/4/18


Q: If I am already a Math Major, can I change majors within the Department (i.e. Can I switch from Applied Math to Pure Math)?

A: The cap is on the department as a whole, not any specific major. Current Math majors can freely switch between the various Math majors. Students still need to submit a change through the Major/Minor Tool, but the change should be approved within 3-5 business days after submission.


Q: What about the Joint Math-Econ major?

A: Students that have already declared as Joint Math-Econ through either the Economics Department (EN28) or the Mathematics Department (MA33) are considered ‘In the Math Department’ for purposes of a major change.


Q: How do I declare a Double Major if my proposed 2nd major is in the Department of Mathematics?

A: If you are not already a declared major in Mathematics and wish to propose a Double Major using one of the majors in Math, you will need to complete a Double Major petition and submit it to the Mathematics Undergraduate Advising Office for review. You must show your intent for the major in the Department by completing the criteria courses with the required grades, noted above. You will not use the Major/Minor Tool. Final approval of eligible double-major petitions will occur during the regular review period of each quarter.


Q: I have a blank grade or an “Incomplete” grade on my transcript for one or more of the grading criteria classes. Can I still declare a major in the Department of Mathematics?

A: Incomplete and Blank grades will need to be resolved prior to students requesting review of the criteria and entrance into one of the majors in the Department. Your final grade needs to be posted on your Academic History before you are eligible to apply.


Q: If I am a declared major in Mathematics and change to a major in a different department, but in the future decide I want to change back to a major in Mathematics, can I do so?

A: You will need to go through the major change process described above. Students who have left the department are given no special exception to return.


Q: I am applying for Readmission, can I still declare a major in the Department of Mathematics?

A: A Readmitted student who was previously one of our majors (prior to FA16) will be grandfathered back into the major, but must first meet with an undergraduate advisor in Math Department. Readmitted students selecting one of our majors for the first time will be held to the new screening criteria. For example, if a student was previously an Engineering student, and wishes to re-enter the university as an Math major, the student will be held to a review of the screening courses in order to declare Mathematics as their major.


Q: I have taken almost all of my courses for a major in the Department of Mathematics. I now have 90 units and need to declare my major. Will there be a delay?

A: Students wishing to declare a major in the Department of Mathematics must satisfy the screening criteria outlined above. If a student has not completed the requisite courses with the required grades entrance to a Math major will not be approved. Students who need to declare a major after 90 units to avoid getting a HOLD on their records should declare an uncapped major first before applying to the Math majors.


Q: I did not meet the grading criteria for entrance to a major in the Department of Mathematics, but have taken several Math courses. What can I do?

A: Exceptions can be made in extraordinary circumstances; however, in most situations students who have not met the grading criteria in the required major courses, but have taken significant upper-division math coursework, may consider declaring a Minor in Mathematics.


Q: What are my odds of acceptance?

A: While we cannot guess what the chance for entry of any individual for any given quarter may be, we can give information on past data:

  • FA16 — 63 eligible applicants accepted — Cut-off GPA: 2.60
  • WI17 — 40 eligible applicants accepted — Cut-off GPA: 2.60
  • SP17 — 83 eligible applicants accepted — Cut-off GPA: 2.54


Q: Are my chances better if I choose a certain major within the department?

A: The Department of Mathematics as a whole, not its individual undergraduate majors, is capped. Only a certain total number of students will be admitted each application period. The quantity of people already in each major and the number of people wanting to enter each major have no direct bearing on how many students will be admitted during a review period.


Q: Am I guaranteed acceptance if my GPA is at least 2.5?

A: The department faculty have set the screening course GPA minimum to 2.5; however, a higher cut-off GPA may be set each quarter if the number of applicants exceeds the number of available slots. Applicants will be ranked by screening course GPA during the review period.


Q: Can I re-apply if I don’t get accepted on the first try?

A: Yes. We do not have any restrictions on the number of times a student can apply to the Math majors.


Q: Can I retake courses with low grades in order to boost my screening course GPA? 

A: We will only count your first passing grade (C- or higher) for each of the five screening courses listed above. This means that we will disregard previous D and F grades, but will not disregard C- or higher grades if a course is taken multiple times.