Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Mathematics

The Department of Mathematics at Iowa State University offers a one-year post-baccalaureate certificate in mathematics.

The post-baccalaureate certificate in mathematics is a program that offers students who have received a Bachelor’s degrees one year of training and preparation for entering a PhD program in Mathematics. The main goal of the program is to prepare students to be successful in graduate studies in mathematics and to experience graduate school. The program provides a path to study in both pure and applied mathematics. The program provides a means for those trained in pure mathematics to transition to applied mathematics, in addition to strengthening the background for those continuing in either specialty

In this program students will take four graduate courses, serve as teaching assistants in undergraduate courses, get ample mentoring from the department’s faculty and graduate students, attend conferences, and receive professional development to aid in applying to graduate programs (or jobs, if appropriate).


Contact information

Bernard Lidický
(515) 294-8136

Jason McCullough
(515) 294-8150

Certificate requirements

Th certificate requires 13 total credits hours (12 in graduate courses and 1 seminar credit. GPA must remain at least 3.00 with a grade of C or better in every course.

Graduate courses

12 credits from MATH and STAT classes acceptable for graduate credit. These 12 credits must include at least 9 credits chosen from MATH 501: Introduction to Real Analysis, MATH 502: Topology, MATH 503: Intermediate Abstract Algebra, MATH 507: Applied Linear Algebra, MATH 518: Mathematical Modeling and Differential Equations, MATH 523: Mathematical Modeling in Biology, MATH 569: Introduction to Discrete Mathematics, MATH 581: Numerical Methods for Differential Equations, STAT 500: Statistical Methods I (see the descriptions in **link catalogue**). For the fall semester the courses will typically be MATH 501 and MATH 507.

Seminar classes

  • MATH 591 (0.5 credit, Orientation for Math. Graduate Students in the fall).
  • MATH 592 (0.5 credits Orientation for Math. Graduate Students in the spring).

A listing of all courses offered by the math department are in the ISU Catalog . The post-baccalaureate students will generally take specially designed courses, that also serve gradate students and advanced undergraduate students. Students will get individual help with choosing the right classes based on their skills and goals before the semester begins.


Participants will be assigned mentors from faculty as well as from graduate students. Students will be enrolled in MATH 591 and MATH 592. These are orientation classes for first year graduate students and they include professional development activities and accessible research talks by faculty.

Teaching and Funding

Post-baccalaureate graduate students will be funded by teaching assistantships. Hence the students will lead recitations in classes such as calculus. The duties will usually include running two to three recitations per week, holding office hours, grading quizzes and exams, and proctoring exams.

The teaching assistantships come with coverage of 1/2 of the tuition and they provide sufficient $ support to cover living expenses in Ames and the other 1/2 of the tuition.

Other Opportunities

The students in the program will participate in usual departmental life, same as other graduate students. That means attending seminars, colloquia, and other events organized in the department.  Students may also participate in EDGE or MOCA.

Frequently asked questions

  • There is no application fee, it is free to apply.

No. You are on your own to find a place to stay. Ames has some specifics since it is a college town. Almost all leases are from August 1 to July 31. If you want to get a shorter lease, be prepared to pay a premium for it. When looking for houses, you may consider looking at CyRide to see bus routes around the town. Getting a place close to some bus route is useful. The buses are free for students. There is no parking next to the building of department. However, there is a commuter lot by the football stadium and a frequent free bus running between the parking lot and the campus. Ames is also quite bike friendly, not during winter, and it is easy to lock the bike at the stands in front of the building. There are no neighborhoods in Ames that one should avoid for safety reasons.

No. If you fly, the nearest airport is in Des Moines. Executive Express is a shuttle service between Ames and Des Moines or you may contact us and see if we can help with getting to Ames from the airport. Uber is also an option for travel between the airport and Ames.

You can pick exactly two classes from the provided list each semester. The fall semester is typically Math 501 – Introduction to Real Analysis and Math 507 – Applied Linear Algebra. You cannot take more classes or classes outside of the list. If you are interested in other topics, we can arrange for you to sit in other classes.

Plan to be here the week BEFORE classes start. Check the ISU Academic Calendar for more details. There will be some orientation, paperwork, and training during that week. There will be orientations specific for this program as well as all meetings that include all 1st year graduate students. You will be given exact schedule later. If you want to come earlier, that is perfectly fine but you will need to entertain yourself.

You get the first pay around Sep 8. You will be paid twice a month. Around 8th and 22nd. In order to get money, you need to go to payroll office (3rd floor of Beardshear Hall) and fill I-9 form by the end of the last Thursday before the classes start.

We do not know exactly yet. The stipend for in academic year 2023-2024 was around $21,400.

The teaching assignments are done over the summer. Most students know their assignments during the week before classes start. Sometimes, there might be last minute changes.

No. Your success is our number one priority for you while you are here in this program. We have a commitment to you and your success. Part of you being successful is you being deeply engaged and committed to doing the work. We expect the coursework to be one of the more challenging mathematical experiences that you have encountered. We should be prepared to dedicate a great deal of time to the work. All of that being said, things like taking on jobs while in the program is heavily discouraged. Part of the model that we have created for this postbac program is contingent on folks not taking outside regular job. If this is something that you feel is required for you to do, then we should sit down and discuss your financial situation so that we can make a plan. We do not want your progress, status, or future funding to be negatively affected because of this.

Yes. Once you register with the payroll office, you can set up a tuition payment plan. There is a small fee for doing monthly payment instead of paying it all at once. Every student in the program qualifies for in-state tuition rate and at least 1/2 of the tuition is covered.

No. However, this is a program to prepare students for graduate studies in math and it is integrated with our first year graduate program. Hence a reasonable background in mathematics is a necessary prerequisite for your success. In general, we expect that applicants know calculus and had some proof based math classes.

In addition to the tuition, ISU is also charging fees (about $600 each semester). The fees can be included with your tuition in a payment plan. Unfortunately, the first payment on the payment plan needs to be paid before you get paid for the first time.

We expect to have 4 to 7 students. The actual number depends on funding and applicant pool.

You do not have to take GRE subject test to apply for this program. However, we plan for you to take it while being at this program. Some graduate schools require you to take the test before you apply there and we would like for you to have options. We will support your preparation for the GRE subject test.

In-state tuition rate and at least 1/2 will be covered for students in the program.

No. There will be no research component in the program. The goal of the program is to build a solid foundation for graduate school. Most of the participants end up being quite busy with the two graduate classes and teaching assignments they need to do each semester. The graduate classes often turn out to be more challenging than the students initially expect. You are welcome to attend seminars, and in the spring semester, there is a special semester-long seminar where different faculty talk about their research to first-year graduate students. But you will not be involved in any actual research projects.

While the program is open to all, we especially welcome applications from traditionally underrepresented minorities.

Students who continued their education after our postbac program went to the following programs (in alphabetical order).Auburn University (PhD), Iowa State University (PhD, MS), New Mexico State University (MA), Rice University (PhD), University of California, Santa Barbara (MA), University of Cambridge (MS), University of Colorado Denver (PhD), University of Kansas (PhD), University of Vermont (PhD), University of Washington (PhD), University of Wisconsin, Madison (PhD), Washington State University (PhD)

  1. Read and write mathematical proofs, producing arguments that are logically and syntactically correct.
  2. Develop the ability to teach mathematics by leading recitation sections.
  3. Solidify core knowledge in analysis and algebra.
  4. Identify preferred areas of specialization in mathematics.

How to apply

Applicants must submit an application, transcripts, a personal statement, and at least 2 letters of recommendation. Underrepresented minorities, women, veterans, and nontraditional students who want to go back to school are encouraged to apply.

Apply online at MathPrograms.Org. There is no application fee. You will need to fill out the Application PDF.

The review of applications will start in March and will continue until all slots are filled.

Personal Statement

Part of the application is a personal statement. It would be helpful for us if your statement includes answers to the following questions.

  • Why are you applying to the program?
  • What is your anticipated career?
  • What do you think will be the main benefit(s) of the program to you?
  • Why do you think you are a good fit for the program?
  • Are you proficient with calculus? All students in the program will be teaching assistants in classes such as calculus. We will provide guidance on how to run recitations but we need to know you have experience with the material.

Class history


2023-24 math postbac cohort

Pictured from left to right: Tadeusz Wojcik, Ashelee Collier, Elisabeth Howard, Tanner Byer


Pictured from left to right: Ryan Tucker, Josiah Aakre, Johnathan Engle, Blake Bates


Pictured from left to right: Kristina Moen, Reeve Johnson, Dajuan Kinney, and Anayse Miller


Abigail Burnett, Kendall Bowens, Clare Sibley, Christopher Lefrak


Pictured from left to right: Sophia Wiedmann, Tiana Burke, Jill Vesta, Clara Buck, Marielle Gardner,  Jonathan Tostado-Marquez, Colin Giles, and Skylar Allen

Supported by State University – John Deere annual allocation – Math Bridges


Pictured from left to right: Jose Lopez, Charlotte Orr, Alejandra Marcelino, Makayla Cowles, Angel Ramos, and Kevin Liu