See website for FAQ for Grad Applications, etc.

General Questions about the Program

What is the difference between a traditional master’s degree and professional master’s degree?

A traditional master’s degree in applied mathematics is often considered a stepping stone to a PhD. This admission process for a traditional master’s degree is highly competitive and typically evaluates applicants on their potential to do research, and possibly continue on to a PhD. A professional master’s degree in applied mathematics is (usually) considered a terminal degree. The goal of the professional master’s degree is to prepare students to be highly competitive on the professional job market. The target audience is (soon-to-be) working professionals who want to further their education; obtain cutting-edge knowledge in applied mathematics, statistics, and data science; further advance their communication, collaboration, presentation, organizational, and networking skills; and apply what they learn to advance their career. The professional master’s degree admission process evaluates applicants primarily on their potential to complete a challenging degree, and not on their potential to do research or complete a PhD.

How does our specialization in Statistics and Data Science differ from the MS in Data Science?

The MS in Applied Mathematics is housed in the Department of Applied Mathematics, and allows students to study a broad range of topics, including statistics and data science, mathematical finance, computational mathematics, mathematical biology, and other fields. The MS in Data Science is an interdisciplinary degree that utilizes some courses from the Department of Applied Mathematics, but also courses in Computer Science and Information Science.

The MS in Applied Mathematics is designed for individuals who have proficiency in calculus 1-3, a strong foundation in linear algebra, and at least one other upper-division mathematics course (e.g., probability theory). We welcome working professionals that are interested in furthering their statistics, data science, or applied mathematics skills. These prerequisites allow our students to dive deeper into the theory that underlies big data, statistics, data science, and other areas of applied mathematics. The prerequisites for the MS in Data Science are calculus 1-2 and linear algebra.

Many of our MS in Applied Mathematics students work on research and data analysis projects alongside our nationally recognized applied mathematics faculty. Our faculty are not involved in research or projects with MS in Data Science students at this time.

The Department of Applied Mathematics graduate program has consistently ranked in the top 15 programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Our courses are designed to share the most current and relevant skills and techniques.

Our students and researchers contribute to scientific journals, report findings and results at conferences, invite discussion at roundtable meetings, and present at seminars around the country.

What areas of applied mathematics and statistics does the department have strengths in?

The department is home to faculty with expertise in computational mathematics, statistics and data science, physical applied mathematics, mathematical biological and social sciences,  and mathematical geosciences. Students in the professional MS program have the option of specializing in statistics and data science, or creating a custom specialization combining the strengths above.

What is the expected time until completion?

A student enrolled full-time (9 credit hours per semester) can finish the degree in 2 years (not including summer semesters). Students wishing to complete the degree in fewer than two years might do so be increasing their fall or spring course load, or by enrolling in summer courses. As of fall 2019, it is not possible to complete the program in 12 months.

Is the MS program STEM eligible?

Yes, the MS degree is STEM eligible, offering an Optional Practical Training STEM Extension benefit.

If I want to complete a customized track (i.e., not the Statistics and Data Science track), what preparation should I have?

Tracks other than Statistics and Data Science--e.g., Computational Mathematics--will likely require taking graduate level courses in analysis and numerical analysis. Because our graduate analysis and numerical analysis courses are rigorous (and also serve our PhD program), it is important that you have the proper preparation; that preparation should include (1) at least one rigorous undergraduate course in analysis, (1) at least one rigorous course in numerical analysis,  and (3) a course in partial differential equations (PDEs). 

Can I take courses from outside of the department of applied mathematics?

Yes. In fact, we require that you take a six-credit (two-course) sequence outside of the department. Suggestions for the out-of-department sequence can be found on our website; students may propose their own sequence, which will be subject to approval by the professional MS director.

Are transfer credits accepted?

Students may be able to transfer up to six graduate level credits. Transfer credits must be approved by the department and the graduate school, and must not have counted toward another degree. Transfer of credit cannot be determined prior to admission. 

If I work full-time, how many courses should I take in a semester?

The answer will depend on several circumstances, including the particular courses being considered, your background as it relates to those courses, and how many hours you work per week. Students should work with their advisor to decide the best number of courses for each semester. Typically, students working full-time take either three or six credits per semester (to finish in four years, taking six credits during two semesters, or taking a summer course, will be necessary).

What careers might be available to me after completing the program?

There are many exciting opportunities available to an MS level applied mathematician, statistician, or data scientist. Here are a few career-related resources:

  1. Both the American Statistical Association and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics have resources for exploring career options.
  2. Data Science Central and Data Jobs are two nice resources for statistics and data science jobs.

Is it possible to do research as part of the professional MS?

Yes. Students are required to complete a culminating experience project as part of their degree. This project may have a research component (see the degree requirements for more information). In rare cases, it may be possible to complete a formal master’s thesis as part of the professional MS; in such circumstances, 4-6 hours of thesis hours must be taken as part of the total 30 required hours, and a thesis defense conducted with 3 faculty committee members, as required by Graduate School rules. 

Can I transfer from the professional MS to the PhD program?

Students in the professional MS may apply to our PhD program. All applicants--both those applying from our professional MS, and those applying externally--will be evaluated together. There are steps that professional MS students can take to increase their chances of success. However, note that our PhD program is highly competitive and there is no guarantee of admittance. If you are interested in applying to our PhD program, you should make that interest known early, so that you can be advised properly.

Academic Preparation and the Application Process

How do I apply?

Applications are completed through the graduate school.

What materials are necessary for a complete application?

Your online application will require:

  1. TOEFL scores, for international applicants. Please see the graduate school website for details about English proficiency requirements.

  2. One official copy of an academic transcript for all previously attended institutions. See the graduate school FAQ website for more information about transcripts and other requirements.

  3. Three letters of recommendation. The best letters of recommendation come from academic faculty who can provide examples of your academic or research talents in applied mathematics, statistics, or data science. At least one of your letters should come from academic faculty, but letters from supervisors who can provide examples of your talents in these areas are also acceptable.

  4. A personal statement. The personal statement should be written in essay form, and should describe: your interests in applied mathematics (e.g., are you interested in the specialization in statistics and data science); reasons why you think you would be successful in completing a graduate degree in applied mathematics at the University of Colorado Boulder; any educational, research, and/or professional experiences not included in other application materials; and, if applicable, any deficiencies in your application that may have arose due to hardship.

*NOTE: As of April 2021, the Department of Applied Mathematics has decided to permanently remove the GRE test (both general and subject) from our Ph.D. and Professional MS program applications.​

When is the application deadline?

There are two application cycles.

For a fall start, we are offering an early decision application deadline of February 1st for domestic applicants & January 15th for international applicants. All fall applications should be completed and submitted by April 15. 

Information regarding the early decision application deadline: We know that you may be applying to more than one program, and we want to provide you with timely information to make an informed decision about graduate school. As such, if you submit your completed application and application fee by this early decision deadline, our admissions committee will inform you of a decision within one month of the early decision deadline. (Note: if you have already submitted your application, please ensure that you have included all necessary materials and paid your application fee. International applications may also take a longer time to process and result in a decision delay.)

For a spring start, applications should be completed and submitted by October 1.

By what date will applicants be notified of acceptance into the program?

Our application deadlines are April 15 for fall admission and Oct 1 for spring admission. The committee does its best to notify applications by the last week of October for spring admissions, and by the second week of May for fall admissions. If earlier notice is necessary, please notify when you submit your application, and provide a reason for why you need early notification. We will attempt to assess your application early, however, there are no guarantees that faculty will be available to do so in a given semester.

If it is past the deadline, can I still apply?

It is highly recommended that applications are submitted by the posted deadlines for domestic and international applications. The Department of Applied Mathematics reserves the right not to consider applications received past the deadline. Please email to inquire. 

Is a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics necessary for acceptance into the program?

An undergraduate degree in applied mathematics, mathematics, or statistics would provide a great foundation for success in our professional MS. However, students who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field but have significant undergraduate mathematics coursework may also be successful in our program.

If I don’t have an undergraduate degree in applied mathematics, what undergraduate preparation should I have before applying to the program?

Applicants to the professional master’s degree should have a suitable background in mathematics. Such a background should include courses from an accredited post-secondary institution in calculus (typically a three-course sequence) and a course in linear algebra at a minimum. To give you an idea of the topics that we hope prospective professional MS students have some knowledge of, take a look at our exam archives for calculus. A rigorous course in probability theory, similar to APPM 3570/STAT 3100 Applied Probability is essential for students wishing to specialize in statistics and data science. Other courses, such as differential equations, analysis/advanced calculus, and numerical analysis may also be helpful, depending on how a student constructs their customized track.

Is there a minimum general GPA requirement?

The minimum general GPA requirement is 3.0.

Is a GRE score required in the application?

No. As of April 2021, the Department of Applied Mathematics has decided to permanently remove the GRE test (both general and subject) from our Ph.D. and Professional MS program applications.​

Financial Considerations

What costs are associated with the professional master’s degree?

Please see costs associated with the degree program.

Are professional MS students eligible for teaching/research assistantships that include tuition waivers?

Unfortunately, the graduate school does not allow professional MS students to receive assistantships that include tuition waivers.

Are professional MS students eligible for other forms of financial aid?

Yes. The following links may be helpful in exploring financial aid opportunities.

  1. Office of Financial Aid

  2. Resources for students in applied mathematics (some of the resources listed under Fellowships/Awards for Graduate Students are restricted to students enrolled in PhD programs).