Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQ's are associated with the MS Statistics degree at SJSU. For the MA or MS Math; Emphasis in Statistics, see the math graduate coordinator. For any of the BS degrees, please see your advisor.

Prospective Students
Statistics Coursework
Math 203 Requirement
Math 299/298 Requirement
SJSU Writing Requirement
Time Line
On Being a Student

Prospective Students

  1. Please see the entrance and degree requirements at the MS Statistics web site.
  2. Please see the Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluation (GAPE) page for general information on admissions. Virtually all of your questions will be answered at one of the links from either this page or that page.
  3. The application process is virtually entirely on-line. See the "Applying to SJSU" sections of the GAPE page for prospective students.
  4. Bear in mind the various deadlines. The first deadline is associated with filling out the online application. There is a second (slightly later) deadline for submitting supporting documents such as transcripts and TOEFL scores (if required). In any case, please apply and submit all documents as early as possible.
  5. All documents such as transcripts and TOEFL scores need to be sent to the GAPE office. The only materials to be sent to the statistics graduate coordinator in the math department are the letters of recommendation.
  6. The GRE is not required. The mathematical content of the general GRE is at the level of high school algebra and is not a good predictor of success for the MS Statistics program.
  7. The math department does not see your application until GAPE has reviewed your materials and determined that you have met the minimal SJSU standards. It is only after that that your application is forwarded to the department for a final decision regarding admittance to the program. If you have general questions about your application, you should contact the GAPE administrator responsible for the math department.
  8. If you would like to visit the campus, please see the campus map. The math department office is located in room 308 of MacQuarrie Hall (Designated MH and located in grid D2 on the map). A visitor would park on the second floor or above in the south parking garage (also located in grid D2 on the map), and parking permits may be purchased from the machines located at the end of each floor. Directions to campus may be found at the link from the campus map. Please contact the math department to set up an appointment with the statistics graduate coordinator if you would like to have an in-person meeting.
  9. Possibilities for funding include the following:
    • The department gives a small number of merit based scholarships near the end of each school year. Apply for these during April in the math department office.
    • There are the usual sources of financial aid that any student can apply for. See the university financial aid and scholarship office web site and links from that page as well as the GAPE page on funding graduate school.
    • The department hires student assistants as tutors, graders, lab monitors, and workshop facilitators. See the section "Student Assistants" at the math department employment web site.
    • The department hires students as teaching associates to teach introductory and lower level math courses. See the section titled "Teaching Associates" at the math department employment web site.

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Statistics Coursework

  1. See the course requirements at the degree web site.
  2. Most students would take math 163 and 164 during their first year.
  3. Most students would take Math 261A and 261B as early in their academic career as possible (after having had the prerequisites).
  4. Most students would not take math 203, 269, and 298/299 until the last year of their program.
  5. See descriptions of the courses as well as their prerequisites in the catalog.
  6. A student who has had a required course as part of their coursework prior to coming to SJSU may request that that course be waived by the statistics graduate coordinator. If the waiver is approved, this does not mean that there are fewer courses to take as an MS student at SJSU. The student must still take 36 units of course work, and will have the opportunity to select additional electives in place of any waived courses.
  7. Electives must be approved for each student individually by the statistics graduate coordinator before registration. Some possible courses include those listed at the electives web site, but if a student finds another relevant course they are welcome to petition the statistics graduate coordinator for approval. All courses must be pre-approved for each student individually and must form a comprehensive plan associated with the students background and career goals, the list noted above is simply to give students some ideas regarding possible electives.
  8. See the math department's tentative schedule of future course offerings (but keep in mind that this is subject to change).
  9. Each semester, register as early as possible. Some courses become full quickly and you may not be able to take a course that you are interested in. At the other extreme, sometimes too many students wait to register and a class may have such low enrollment that it is cancelled before the semester begins. Registering early for all courses that you are interested in can prevent these unfortunate situations from occurring.
  10. Courses you took as an undergraduate may not be repeated for credit towards your master's degree.
  11. No more than 6-units of coursework may be taken through open university or transferred from another institution. Coursework used for another degree may not be counted towards this degree.
  12. There is no credit by examination for any course in your program.

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Math 203 Requirement: Internship or CAMCOS Project

One of the requirements for the degree is an internship or CAMCOS project. There is no guarantee of future CAMCOS projects or the ability to participate in them. An internship should not be performed more than one year before the anticipated graduation date, though you may participate in a suitable CAMCOS project whenever one is available. If you want a paid internship in a field of particular interest to you, it is up to you to search for such a position. Ordinary job search engines such as monster and dice can be helpful (include the term “internship” in your search). Also, if there is a particular company that you are interested in you can simply go to their web site and click on the link for “jobs” or “careers” in order to search for an internship. The SJSU career center can also be of help (Megan Bradley in that office is the liaison for college of science students). Also, sites such as the American Statistical Association (especially the “careers” section) and its Bay Area Chapter (read all the material at the “Bay Area Employment Opportunities” page) often contain useful information (you should really join the ASA, and see the listing of local activities at the Bay Area chapter web site. Attending these can help you see what statisticians do in real life, and allow you to meet people who will be able to help you find a job). If you are not able to find an internship to your liking, we will be able to identify an unpaid internship for you (but it may not be in your particular field of interest).

Usually math 203 is reserved for CAMCOS projects, but there will usually be a section set aside for those students doing internships. If you perform your internship over the summer, you would usually register in math 203 during the subsequent fall semester. You would usually complete the internship during the semester that you register for math 203, but if you do the (approved) work earlier that will be fine, and if you do not complete the internship during the semester in which you are registered in math 203 you will simply receive a grade of incomplete until you have completed the work. There is some paperwork (agreements between you and your employer) that must be signed, and another form which must be completed by your employer at the end of the internship. At the end of the semester you will be required to give a written report and an oral presentation (about 20 minutes) regarding your internship.

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Math 299/298 Requirement: Thesis or Writing Project:

When you are getting close to graduation, you need to write a thesis (Plan A, and take math 299) or writing project (Plan B, and take math 298). Within the math department these are considered equivalent. You would take the appropriate course (and complete the project) either during your last or second to last semester at SJSU. The university has extra requirements for the project to be declared an official thesis (including much earlier deadlines, also see general SJSU thesis information and SJSU thesis and project requirements). Nine to twelve months before your anticipated graduation date you should select a project advisor from the faculty and discuss a possible project with them. The project is intended to be a relatively large scale data analysis project (far larger than, e.g., any projects you may work on in your courses. You should expect to spend 150-250 hours on this project, i.e., 10-15 hours a week for the entire semester). You may find an appropriate project through your CAMCOS project or internship, through the statistical consulting course, you may have something else of your own in mind, or your potential advisor may have a project available for you.

Proposals for the thesis/writing project need lead time because they must be approved by the graduate curriculum committee before you commence work, thus it is important to have an advisor, and a plan for a project, well before the beginning of the semester in which you intend to do th work. The completed thesis/writing project must be defended in front of a committee of three faculty members. The defense is open for other faculty and students to attend. For a writing project, the defense (as well as any corrections or modifications requested by the committee) must be finished by finals week of the semester in which you are taking the course. A thesis must be defended and corrected by mid March in order to be submitted to graduate studies (see the links above), thus if you intend to do a thesis you might want to allow two semesters. If the thesis/writing project is not defended by the end of the semester in which you are registered for the course, you will receive a grade of RP (Report Progress) until you complete the requirements, at which time the grade would be changed to CR (this is a credit/no-credit course).

Whether a thesis or writing project, if you intend to take two semesters you would register for a section of Math 298/special study during the first semester, then either 298/writing project or 299/thesis for the second semester. The extra semester would not count towards the 12 courses required for the degree. If you do not finish the thesis/writing project during the semester in which you intend to and thus end up with a grade of RP, and if you are subsequently no longer enrolled in courses, you will need to enroll in a special one-unit course during the semester in which you will finish the paper and graduate. If necessary, remind your instructor to change the "RP" to "CR". VERY IMPORTANT: although an "NC" will not count in your GPA, a lapsed "RP" will become an "IC" and
will count as an "F" in your GPA!

After you've successfully defended your thesis (or writing project) and turned it in to Graduate Studies (or the Department), let the statistics graduate advisor know so that your Verification of Culminating Experience form may be submitted to Graduate Studies informing them that you've completed all your Departmental requirements.

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SJSU Writing Requirement

All students must meet the SJSU writing requirement. It is important that you do this as soon as possible (see the time line/links below). Some students will need to take a course to meet this requirement, and if so that course will not count towards the units required for the degree. Some students would complete this requirement by taking Math 100W, which requires that you first take the WST (writing skills test). Some student would also complete this requirement by taking CS 200W or ENGR 200W (which do not require taking the WST, but other departments may or may not have other prerequisites for taking such a course. In the past, the CS department has allowed any student to take CS 200W regardless of major). It would be a good idea to finish this requirement before beginning the thesis or writing project, after all, the purpose of this requirement is to help you with your writing.

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Time Line

  1. If you were admitted conditionally and have met those requirements, you should apply to have your status changed ASAP.
  2. Complete the SJSU writing requirement.
  3. After you are about half way through the program or about ten months before your anticipated graduation date (i.e., during the first week of your second to last semester), whichever is later, you will need to file for candidacy (again, this can only happen after completing the SJSU writing requirement). See the pre-candidacy requirements and also read the section below that for more information. The candidacy form is a contract: if your candidacy has been approved and you decide not to take a class that you listed on the form, you must file a formal request for Course Substitution in Master's Degree Program to replace it with another class. That's why it's not such a good idea to file your candidacy request until you've finished most of your coursework. Pay attention to the deadlines, though.
  4. After your candidacy form is approved, you should apply for graduation.
  5. Note carefully all university deadlines.

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On Being a Student

  1. Please be familiar with SJSU's " Steps for Completing Your Master's Degree".
  2. Please be familiar with SJSU's general FAQ for graduate students.
  3. Please check MySJSU regularly for important messages, and make sure your current email address is accurate.
  4. Keep records: keep a copy of every form you turn in. Write down the name of anyone in the Department, GAPE, or the University who tells you something important. It doesn't hurt to let the person see you writing down his or her name. Make sure you record the date and time of the conversation and the gist of what was said.
  5. Seven-year rule: "No more than seven years may elapse between the time the candidate completes the first course in his/her program and the date the candidate actually completes (not registers for) the last item on the program and completes requirements for the degree." See 7-Year Rule for details.
  6. a student who misses two or more consecutive semesters must re-apply to the University, adhering to the same rules and deadlines for application as all other prospective students. Note: the Seven-Year Rule
    applies to the original matriculation date.
  7. Allow plenty of time for the thesis/writing project endgame: for May graduation, your thesis must be defended, signed, and delivered to Graduate Studies by the end of March (see Deadlines for August and December degree conferrals). Writing projects must be defended, signed, and delivered to the Department by the last day of finals in a given semester. Figure how much time you will need by working backwards from the deadline. You must give the members of your committee plenty of time to read your thesis/writing project. They are entitled to demand changes, and you will need time to respond. They must then have time to read your responses and decide if they are adequate. All of this must happen before your thesis/writing project defense. And this always takes longer than you think it will.
  8. Consult graduate studies' master's thesis requirements page: in particular, be sure to check out the latest version of Graduate Studies' Thesis Guide.
  9. Nowadays almost all printed mathematics is produced using LaTeX: if you are interested in using LaTeX, powerful software for mathematical word processing, consider the shareware version available at A LaTeX template developed specifically for mathematics theses at SJSU is available. This template has been approved by Graduate Studies, and it will serve as an acceptable style guide for your thesis. (Note: since GS&R makes changes in the thesis requirements on an ongoing basis, it's very important that you contact Professor Hsu to make sure you have the latest version of the template.)
  10. There is no such thing as "grade forgiveness" for courses in your master's program. So protect your GPA. You'll be on probation -- and you won't be able to graduate -- if your GPA drops and remains below 3.0, and, without academic renewal, it's hard to resuscitate a gasping GPA.
  11. Don't compare your insides with everyone else's outsides. Graduate school is tough -- for everybody. Don't assume that everyone else is sailing along and you're the only one struggling; that's just not true. You don't know the agonies your fellow students are going through, and they don't know yours. And remember, if things get really tough, there's Counseling Services, and it's free.
  12. Don't overload yourself, especially your first semester and especially if you have other commitments such a work, teaching, or family commitments
  13. When in doubt, ask. Ask your fellow students, ask professors, ask the statistics graduate coordinator.

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With thanks, and apologies, to Prof. Kubelka.


Department of Mathematics, One Washington Square, San José, CA 95192-0103
Office:  308 MacQuarrie Hall  *  Hours:  M-F 8:30-12:30pm, 1:30-5:00pm
Phone: 408-924-5100  *  Fax: 408-924-5080