UCSD Mathematics

Math Capped Status


Effective Monday, 5/24/2021, the Mathematics Department majors are no longer Capped.

Continuing students may use the TritonLink Major/Minor Tool online to change their major department to Mathematics. No additional screening will be required.

Incoming students may use the TritonLink Major/Minor Tool online to change their major department to Mathematics as soon as they are registered and enrolled for Fall 2021 courses.

All majors within the Department of Mathematics have become Capped.

This means:

  • A limited number of slots are available specifically for incoming First Year Students.
  • A limited number of slots are available specifically for incoming Transfer Students.
  • A limited number of slots are available specifically for Continuing Students after completion of the department’s Capped Screening Criteria.

Any student not admitted directly into a Math major as an incoming First Year or Transfer student, or not currently declared as a Math major, will need to meet the department’s Capped Screening Criteria, which includes completing a set of five required courses with a C– or higher and with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in those five courses before being eligible to apply to the majors.

Capped Screening Criteria Required Courses:

  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

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

Note: We do not accept D grades as part of the Capped Screening Criteria.

Capped Screening Criteria Minimum GPA Requirement:

  • Eligible students must earn a grade point average of 3.0 or above from the five required lower-division courses to be eligible to apply.
  • The cumulative UC GPA is not considered part of the Capped Screening Criteria.

Students who have met the Capped Screening Criteria may submit an application through the UCSD Capped Major Application Tool. Incoming students will have access to the Capped Major Tool as soon as they have registered for Fall Quarter courses. Do not submit an application if you have not yet met the Capped Screening Criteria with final grades for all five required courses posted on your UCSD Academic History.

Note: Students who have already completed 150.0 units or more at the time they submit their application must also submit a quarter-by-quarter plan to before the review period. We will notify these students by email if/when a plan is required.

The above criteria apply to all Continuing Students seeking a major in Mathematics as of 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 as an incoming student?

A: Acceptance into any capped major at the time of admission 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 meeting the Capped Screening Criteria.

Q: I took some or all of the required courses for the Capped Screening Criteria 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 and/or transcripts 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.

Grade Value AP Calc score IB HL Math score
A 5 7
B 4 6
C 3 5


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

A: Students must first meet the Capped Screening Criteria by completing the five required lower-division courses as outlined above, and then use the UCSD Capped Major Application Tool 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. If you are looking to Double Major with Mathematics, please read the section below on declaring Math as your second major.

Q: When can I declare a major in Mathematics?

A: Interested students are encouraged to apply as soon as they have met the Capped Screening Criteria. As indicated we will review all student requests submitted through the UCSD Capped Major Application Tool during the open application period (see below). Applications need to be submitted by 11:59pm Sunday before Week Five in order to be reviewed that quarter. Decisions will be made no later than Friday of Week Five.

For 2021-22 the Application and Review Periods will be as follows:

Quarter Application Period Review Period
Fall 2021 5/8/21 – 10/24/21 10/25/21– 10/29/21
Winter 2022 11/6/21 – 1/30/22 1/31/22 – 2/4/22
Spring 2022 2/12/22 – 4/24/22 4/25/22 – 4/29/22

Q: If I am already a Math Major, can I change majors within the Department (e.g. 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. These students should submit a change through the UCSD Major/Minor Tool on TritonLink (not the Capped Major Tool). Their major request change should be approved within 1-3 business days after submission.

Q: What about the Joint Math-Econ major?

A: As of the Winter 2020 Application Period, Joint Math-Econ majors under the Department of Economics (EN28) will be subject to the same Screening Criteria as all other students not directly admitted to one of our Math majors. EN28 majors must complete the five required courses with a C– or higher and with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in those five courses before being eligible to apply to the Math Department. Students who are Joint Math-Econ majors under the Department of Mathematics (MA33) should see the information above for current Math majors.

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 or the Capped Major Application. 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: Readmitted students who were a declared Math majors their last enrolled quarter at UCSD will be grandfathered back into the department without needing to go through the Capped Screening Review. Readmitted students selecting one of our majors for the first time will be held to the Capped 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 Capped Screening Criteria in order to declare Mathematics as their major department.

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 Capped 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 Capped Screening Criteria minimum GPA requirement, 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 minimum GPA 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 the past year’s data:

  • SP20 — 91 eligible applicants accepted — Cut-off GPA: 3.00
  • FA20 — 114 eligible applicants accepted — Cut-off GPA: 3.00
  • WI21 — 46 eligible applicants accepted — Cut-off GPA: 3.00
  • SP21 — 76 eligible applicants accepted — Cut-off GPA: 3.00

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 allowed entry to the majors 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 allowed entry during a review period.

Q: Am I guaranteed acceptance if my Screening GPA is at least 3.0?

A: The department faculty have set the Capped Screening Criteria GPA minimum at 3.0; 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 GPA from the five required courses 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: Does the Math Department use a Lottery System for their application process?

A: No. We do not use a Lottery System.

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

A: We will only count your first passing grade (C– or higher) for each of the five required 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.