To responsibly live within and participate in the transformation of a rapidly changing, complex, and interdependent society, students must develop and unceasingly exercise their analytical abilities. Math majors acquire and enhance their reasoning and problem solving skills in mathematical contexts, but the acquired habits of rigorous thought and creative problem-solving are invaluable in all aspects of life. Students who have learned to logically question assertions, recognize patterns, and distinguish the essential and irrelevant aspects of problems can think deeply and precisely, nurture the products of their imagination to fruition in reality,  and share their ideas and insights while seeking and benefiting from the knowledge and insights of others.

Mathematics is both a fundamental discipline and an essential tool for students of biology, chemistry, computer engineering, computer science, Earth sciences, economics, electrical engineering, physics, and psychology. Researchers in these areas work with mathematicians to develop innovative applications of mathematics to their fields.

Within the mathematics major, there are three concentrations leading to the B.A. degree: pure mathematics, mathematics education, and computational mathematics. These programs are designed to give students a strong background for graduate study, for teaching, or for work in industry or government.

Degrees Offered

  • B.A.
  • Minor
  • Ph.D.

Study and Research Opportunities

  • B.A. with concentrations in Pure Mathematics, Mathematics Education, and Computational Mathematics

  • Undergraduate Minor

  • The California Teach program (CalTeach) at UCSC offers K-12 internships, coursework, academic and career advising, teacher professional development and mentoring, and other support for prospective and novice teachers.

  • STEM Diversity programs, including UC LEADS and CAMP, offer research opportunities, academic enrichment, and mentoring for students from under-represented groups.

Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)

Students interested in studying mathematics are strongly encouraged to take algebra, geometry, and trigonometry before entering the university. Students needing mathematics courses for their intended major are encouraged to take the math placement exam as early as possible. Failure to begin the calculus series upon arrival at UCSC could delay progress in some majors.

Information for Transfers

Transfer students interested in a mathematics or science major should take courses equivalent to course 19A, 19B, and 21 before enrolling at UCSC. Courses equivalent to 23A, 23B, and 24 are also recommended before transferring to UCSC. Transfer students from California community colleges should consult to determine the appropriate courses to complete prior to transfer.


Mathematicians are valued for their creativity, insight, and intellectual independence, and typically report high career satisfaction. Math graduates excel in

  • Critical thinking. The ability to identify, evaluate, and apply diverse knowledge and data to form independent judgments.

  • Problem solving. The ability to assess and interpret complex situations, choose an appropriate method of solution, and persist in the face of difficulty.

  • Effective communication. The ability to collaborate intellectually and creatively, appreciating ambiguity and nuance while emphasizing the importance of clarity and precision.

Career options include actuarial science, computer hardware and software design, cryptography, financial analysis, operations research, psychometrics, and teaching.


Math majors can make degree progress while studying abroad. The Math Undergraduate Vice Chair can help students select programs that match their mathematical interests and preparation, and identify courses that can satisfy major requirements. The UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) offers students an opportunity to study abroad in 40 countries with over 300 program options.

Awards, Honors, and Recognitions

Professors of Mathematics Robert Boltje, Bruce Cooperstein, and Anthony Tromba, and mathematics lecturers Frank Bauerle, Nandini Bhattacharya, and Richard Mitchell have all received Excellence in Teaching Awards. Richard Mitchell has received multiple Favorite Professor Awards and the 2010 Ron Ruby Award for Teaching Excellence in the Physical and Biological Sciences. Nandini Bhattacharya received Excellence in Diversity awards in 2013 and 2005, and a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering mentoring in 1999.

Alumni Focus

Matt Pecenco received B.A.s in computational mathematics and in economics in 2011. He worked at the Department of Energy, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and Innovations for Poverty Action, and is now a PhD student at Berkeley.

Paulina Rodriguez received a B.A. in pure mathematics in 2010 and an M.A. from Claremont Graduate University in 2012. She was a UC LEADS scholar and participated in CalTeach, CAMP, and the Academic Excellence Program.

Department Website

More Information

Mathematics Undergraduate Advising Office:
McHenry Library, Rm 4111

University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064
(831) 459-2969