I am going to be a rising junior (undergrad), and I plan on applying to graduate school in mathematics. Our school offers the opportunity to get a B.S./M.S. in math, or simply a math B.S. To get a B.S./M.S., I'd have to sacrifice some courses outside of math (like english, history, etc.) in order to take more graduate math classes (need 8 total). I'd still plan on taking graduate courses even with the B.S., but it would probably be around 5-7 instead of the 8 needed.

In terms of graduate school admissions, would this matter at all? It seems to me that there's probably not too much of a difference given that they would see the coursework anyways. But who knows, maybe given the fact that there's so little time spent on each application, that having a M.S. would be just enough to stand out and have a name remembered.

EDIT: United States - sorry about that!

  • even a single course (and/or your performance on thereof) can change the outcome of your application
    – Our
    Aug 15, 2020 at 11:43
  • 1
    You did not include a country!!
    – user111388
    Aug 18, 2020 at 9:57
  • 1
    This seems like a US question. Please verify. It matters.
    – Buffy
    Aug 18, 2020 at 10:03
  • Does getting the MS cost you money? Aug 18, 2020 at 11:34
  • 2
    Don't listen to answers that say courses outside mathematics have no value. They are wrong. Aug 18, 2020 at 11:35

2 Answers 2


I'd have to sacrifice some courses outside of math (like english, history, etc.) in order to take more graduate math classes (need 8 total).

In general more math or related courses instead of non-related courses would support your application better. For some context, these mandated non-degree courses are not globally agreed to be necessary. For example a 4-year math degree in US can have less content in math then a 3-year math degree in Germany. Essentially some degree programs can have "bloat" approximating around or above of 1 year work (8 to 12 courses). It is not at all obvious that these courses in necessary (as they are not mandated in a lot of places) and I have never ever seen any admission body / personal being even remotely interested in the existence or non-existence of a -very basic introductory to a discipline of humanities-.


Why would sacrificing courses like history be considered a negative? The biggest advantage of the BS/MS here, from what it seems, is that it allows you to take more courses relevant to what you want to study/specialize in, which would definitely be a positive in this case.

EDIT: Maybe I was wrong in saying classes like history/english are irrelevant in this case. Writing/reading is very important if you were to pursue a PhD. But in the end it does come down to what you prefer. Do you want the extra outside courses for reading/writing prep or do you want to specialize in a specific area sooner? Is there a way to do both?

Also, my original answer didn't necessarily answer the original question mentioned. It is definitely not unheard of for a applicant to go straight from undergrad to a PhD program, but this depends on a variety of factors, including how much research experience/potential this person possesses. If you feel your writing is up to par and you really want to find an area in your field to specialize in, you might be better off with the extra graduate courses, although again, this really comes down to personal taste and preferences.

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