Mathematics, Master of Science

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

This advanced program of study offers students a choice between a thesis and an extended coursework This advanced degree allows students to explore the discipline of mathematics by concentrating in two of four areas: analysis and topology; algebra and combinatorics; applied mathematics and dynamical systems; and actuarial and financial mathematics.

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master's degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 34 - 38
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Thesis Thesis may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Oral Defense Oral Defense may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Research Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement

The MS Mathematics degree program provides students the content knowledge, as well as abstract reasoning and communication skills, which constitute a broad foundation in graduate-level mathematics.  This foundation illuminates the inter-connection between different branches of mathematics and is the theoretical basis for validating and critically assessing the mathematical principles and methods necessary for continued studies in mathematics beyond the master’s degree or for work that graduates may perform in industry, education or government agencies.
Student Learning Outcomes

  • Graduates will demonstrate breadth and depth of knowledge in graduate-level mathematics.
    • Graduates will have acquired a broad theoretical knowledge in mathematics, particularly in the areas of Analysis, Linear Algebra, and Abstract Algebra, which are central to advanced studies in mathematics.
    • For the Comprehensive Examination option, graduates will demonstrate mastery in a focused and approved selection of three mathematical areas by successfully completing a comprehensive oral examination in these areas administered by a committee of the mathematics/statistics faculty.
    • For the Thesis option, graduates will demonstrate mastery in a focused area of mathematics and the ability to conduct independent inquiry by completing a substantial thesis in this area and defending it in front of a committee of the mathematics/statistics faculty.
  • Graduates will demonstrate the profound skills of logical mathematical reasoning which at the graduate level encompasses high degrees of abstraction and complexity.
    • Graduates will be able to read and synthesize complex formal mathematical arguments.
    • Graduates will be proficient in the independent writing of elegant proofs of significant length or complexity and in the skeptical assessment of the argumentation of others.
    • Graduates will be able to use acquired reasoning skills to read and interpret advanced mathematical literature (textbooks, journals, papers, etc.) to continue independent learning.
    • Graduates will have developed the creativity and intuition necessary for positing conjectures and deducing mathematical facts by applying established mathematical knowledge and reasoning in novel situations.
  • Graduates will communicate mathematics effectively in preparation for careers in the corporate sector, government agencies, or education or for continued graduate studies.
    • Graduates will be able to precisely communicate advanced mathematical principles and ideas with clarity and coherence, both written and verbally, demonstrating communication skills to be used in any future career.
    • Graduates will productively and creatively collaborate with peers or faculty to posit conjectures and work on mathematical problems of significant complexity demonstrating cooperative working skills to be used in any future career.


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Personal statement or essay
    • Prerequisites (completed prior to enrolling in the program)
      • At least 27 hours of undergraduate mathematics and statistics coursework at the level of calculus and above with a grade of C or better, and have at least a 3.0 grade point average in these courses.
      • The 27 credit hours must include coursework in multivariable calculus, linear algebra, real analysis (advanced calculus), and abstract algebra.
    • List of courses taken in the field with titles/authors of textbooks used
Master's Requirements
  • Take the following 34 - 38 units:

      • Option A - Additional Community-College Emphasis
        • Teach a minimum of 3 units of mathematics at the college level for 4 semesters, while concurrently enrolled in the MAT 608 (1 unit) during each of the 4 semesters (4 units).
        • This teaching requirement is normally satisfied by being a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) for 4 semesters.
        • Complete: MAT 595 and MAT 596 (6 units)
        • Take 18 units from the above list of elective courses, so that your total units add up to at least 38 units.
        Option B - No Additional Community-College Emphasis
        • Take 24 units from the above list of elective courses, so that your total units add up to at least 34 units. Substitutions may be allowed by petition to the department's Graduate Operations Committee.
    • Thesis
      Electives. Selected with your advisor's guidance from the following (21 units):Substitutions may be allowed by petition to the department's Graduate Operations Committee.
      • MAT 699, for the research, writing, and oral defense of an approved thesis. Please note: You may end up taking more than the 6 units of thesis credit you can count toward your degree because you must register for it each semester while you are working on your thesis. (6 units)
      In addition, you must:
      • Have a mathematics faculty member serve as your thesis advisor
      • Get your research committee's approval of your specific thesis plan
      • Perform satisfactorily on an oral defense of the thesis conducted by your research committee
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.