Advising Information for Mathematics Majors

Guidelines for Mathematics Majors | Recommended courses for Emphasis Areas


Guidelines for Mathematics Majors

  • Mathematics majors are expected to complete MAT 221, 222, 223, 224, and 231 as early as possible. MAT 221 and MAT 222 are offered every semester, MAT 223 is offered every fall, and MAT 224 and MAT 231 are offered every spring. Failure to complete these courses by the end of the sophomore year likely will delay your graduation.

  • All prospective mathematics majors are required to take the compcalc exam (a proficiency exam covering Calculus 1, 2, and 3) during the spring semester after completing MAT 223. Admission to the mathematics major will be determined by performance on this exam and performance in MAT 231 (Foundations of Mathematics).

  • Mathematics majors should try to complete all foreign language requirements by the end of the sophomore year. These are time-consuming courses which can interfere with your upper-level courses in mathematics. Students intending to pursue a doctoral degree in mathematics will need to acquire a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language. The best graduate departments require two languages. This ability can be achieved through course work (2-4 semesters in each language at the college level) or by other creative means. In mathematics the only acceptable languages besides English are German, French, and Russian.

  • CSC 131 (Introduction to Programming) is required of all mathematics majors. If you take more computing courses, be sure to include CSC 311 (Data Structures).

  • Junior-senior mathematics courses are challenging and require a lot of study time (ask any junior or senior). The normal course load in the junior-senior years is 2 mathematics courses per semester. Students preparing for graduate school will sometimes carry 3 courses per semester. CAUTION: Choose your remaining courses carefully. You will not have much time for them.

  • Be realistic. DO NOT enroll in more than five 3-5 credit courses (total) per semester in your junior-senior years. DO NOT enroll in a collection of more than three upper-level mathematics courses and lab science courses in one semester. Otherwise you will not survive, or will burn out, or both.

  • If you want to retain certain educational and career options (such as graduate school, actuarial work, operations research, statistics, applied mathematics), be sure to consult with a mathematics professor before enrolling each semester. Failure to take the right courses at the right time could put you a year behind.

  • What you do with your summers is crucial to your future success. Feel free to ask a mathematics professor for advice. Internships, summer research workshops, and national laboratory scholarships are available each year. Discuss these with a mathematics¬†professor during the preceding fall semester.

  • A concentration of 12 credits in an applications area is required of all mathematics majors. A minor is NOT required. Appropriate areas include biology, business, chemistry, communication, communicative arts, English, history, philosophy, and psychology. Ask a mathematics professor for help in choosing an emphasis.

Recommended Courses for Emphasis Areas

Actuarial: MAT 352 plus appropriate courses in business administration including BUS 181-182 (Principles of Micro and Macro Economics) and BUS 322 (Intermediate Finance). Seek summer internships. More detailed information is available at Be an Actuary.

Applied Mathematics: MAT 230, 352, 371, 423, 475.

Operations Research: MAT 352, 361. You should pursue a master's degree in operations research.

Statistics: Take MAT 352, an appropriate minor, and seek an internship (junior-senior years, after MAT 352).

Graduate School: Graduate study in mathematics is free! Graduate departments of mathematics award teaching assistantships or fellowships to the students they accept. These provide a stipend for tuition or remission of tuition. However, acceptance into graduate school is very competitive. To prepare for graduate study, consult with mathematics department faculty as early as possible.

  • For admission to doctoral programs in pure mathematics, MAT 422 (Analysis 2), MAT 423 (Complex Analysis), MAT 432 (Abstract Algebra 2), and MAT 445 (Topology) are required.
  • For admission to doctoral programs in applied mathematics, MAT 422 (Analysis 2), MAT 371 (Numerical Analysis), and MAT 475 (Partial Differential Equations) are required. MAT 423 is recommended.
  • Admission to master's programs depends on the chosen discipline. You should consult with a mathematics professor.

Some independent study will also be helpful. Application to graduate school must be done in the fall of the senior year. For successful admission to graduate school, you must work in consultation with mathematics faculty preferably at the beginning of the fall semester of your junior year and no later than the fall semester of your senior year. If you try to gain admission to graduate school without advice from mathematics faculty, you will very likely be denied!