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Culminating Experiences for Master's Students

You can complete your master's in two ways as designated in the graduate catalog.

  • Option 1 requires 32 credits of coursework and a comprehensive project or internship, or
  • Option 2 requires 30 credits of coursework and a thesis.

Mat 490: Graduate Project

Choosing to do a culminating graduate project means you will have to discuss working one-on-one with a graduate faculty member. You may select any graduate faculty member within in the Mathematics department. Ensure that you provide this graduate faculty member ample time to commit to working with you before the semester of your graduate project is to begin. You will work with this graduate faculty member to help decide on an appropriate project in your chosen area. Once you have talked with a graduate faculty member you will need to fill out the appropriate form. In order to register for MAT 490, you will have to turn this form, filled out, into STV 313.

What is it?

A master’s project involves work in mathematics and/or mathematics education at a level appropriate for a student completing a master’s degree. Work need not be original research, but should show sophistication and mastery of material expected from a master’s student. The amount of work involved for the student should be at least the equivalent of a 3-credit course. At the end of the project, the student should complete a written report 15-20 pages in length, and give a 20-30 minute oral presentation on the project that is open and advertised to all math faculty and students during the last week of the semester during the master’s project forum. This is an event where all Mat 490 students will present their findings on the same day. In addition, students must pick an additional date to present to members of the department and announce this date at least 2 weeks prior to the event.


Before beginning a project: In consultation with a faculty member,come up with a project idea and proposal. Fill out the project proposal form. It must be approved and signed by the coordinating faculty member, and other co-members of your project committee (your faculty member may be the sole committee member), and the master’s program director. If approved, an override will be given so you can register for MAT 490.

To complete the project: When the project committee agrees you are ready to complete, the committee head should announce your proposal presentation to the Department. The announcement and written 15-page project summary should be made available to the Department at least 1 week before the presentation.

Final approval: Final approval of the project is determined by the supervising faculty member, who gives the grade for MAT 490. A “B” grade or better is needed to satisfy master’s degree requirements.

Mat 498: Professional Practice

Choosing to do a professional practice experience means that you will be applying to many internship openings at varying companies and organizations. You may apply for an internship at any time while completing your degree. If you are an international student, you have restrictions concerning when you can perform an internship and will need to consult the master's coordinator for more details. The internship experience must be related to your field of study and will need to be approved by your designated faculty advisor and the master's coordinator. A good place to start looking for internships is on Hire-A-Redbird, Illinois State's Career Center website dedicated to posting job and internship opportunities from companies to its students. There is also an internship fair through ISU's Career Center each fall and spring. View the Career Center website to obtain dates and important information about the internship fairs. Also take a look at the resources that the Actuarial website at ISU has to offer, like their Meet the Firm Event.

After you secure an internship position, you can follow the instructions below in order to receive graduate level credit for your internship experience.

Graduate students should register for : MAT 498 - Professional Practice (3 hrs)

  • Send a copy of the following to the graduate coordinator
    • The job posting that includes information on the positions description, responsibilities, and desired skills
    • The offer letter from the company

International students with a student F-1 visa can only do this by meeting the conditions for approval of F-1 Curricular Practical Training, and must consult this with the Office of International Studies and Programs.

However, you will not be allowed to register in it until your internship class is approved by your Professional Practice Faculty Coordinator. You must discuss with your advisor about who your Professional Practice Faculty Coordinator will be.

Additional information for setting up your internship record in Hire-A-Redbird can be found here. To receive a grade for your internship class, you and your advisor will determine what evidence of success you must provide. This may include a written report and/or oral presentation. Failure to satisfy the academic requirements of your internship may result in you receiving a grade of F.

Mat 499: Master's Thesis

A thesis is one of the final project options for the master's mathematics degree program at ISU. Those pursuing a master's degree can perform research on a specific subject area in mathematics that demonstrates their knowledge acquired through their program. A master's degree thesis is closely related to a research paper. You are expected to use the research of others and provide your own analysis on your discoveries. It demonstrates your level of critical and analytical thinking and defines the subject that you are most interested in pursuing within the field of mathematics.

Please visit the ISU Graduate School website to obtain more information on this topic.