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Departmental Scholar Program

The Mathematics Departmental Scholars Program is the most advanced program offered to mathematics majors. It provides excellent preparation for graduate school for exceptional students. Scholars complete both Bachelor’s (BS) and Master’s (MA) degrees, usually within a four-year period.

Admission to the Departmental Scholars Program is by application only. Students typically apply immediately after passing the Basic Exam. In addition, candidates must fulfill all University level requirements.

A successful applicant will have passed the Basic Exam by spring quarter of their junior year, have a very high GPA in math courses, and have letters of recommendation that strongly support the application. Applications are reviewed and decided by the Undergraduate and Graduate program faculty, in consultation with other faculty. 

To apply for the Departmental Scholars Programs, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Be declared in a mathematics major
  • Pass the Basic Exam no later than the beginning of spring quarter of junior year

To remain in the Departmental Scholars Program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Remain a UCLA mathematics student in good academic standing
  • Maintain at least a 3.5 GPA in mathematics courses at all times

The following timeline is recommended for students in the Departmental Scholars Program:

First year at UCLA

Complete or have credit from another institution/standardized test (AP or IB Exams) all lower-division Calculus-based courses (Math 31A, 31B, 32A, 32B, 33A, 33B). If possible take 115AH in spring.

Second year at UCLA

Complete pre-major courses, take Math 115AH (Honors Linear Algebra), Math 115B (Linear Algebra), Math 131AH (Honors Analysis) and 131BH (Honors Analysis). Begin preparation for Basic Exam (offered Sept. and March) using online copies of past exams. 

Third Year at UCLA

Pass the Basic Qualifying Exam, preferably by the start of Fall Quarter. Apply to Scholars program immediately after passing Basic. Complete remaining undergraduate math major courses. During the quarter of admission to the Scholars program, it is possible to begin graduate coursework which counts toward the Master’s Degree. 

Fourth year at UCLA

Complete remaining graduate level courses for the Master’s Degree.


The MA requirements include 11 additional courses, of which 8 must be graduate math courses. Typically, Scholars follow at least two of the Core graduate course sequences. These classes start in the fall quarter and it can be advantageous, if you are ready, to attempt the Basic in September of your junior year, thus enabling you to take one core sequence that year. It is also possible to finish the program on time, or nearly on time, if you pass the Basic later. The normal course load for beginning graduate students is 3 math courses, with a least 2 in core sequences. 

More information on the Basic Exam, including old exams: http://www.math.ucla.edu/grad/handbook/quals/basic
Dates of upcoming exams: http://www.math.ucla.edu/grad/qe-dates 


Contact ugrad@math.ucla.edu with questions.