Mathematics and Statistics

Majoring in Mathematics ...

is fun and rewarding and can lead to great jobs!

If you are thinking about majoring in math, you should go to Seeley Mudd and talk to a math professor. In the meantime, this page provides an outline of the requirements for a major. (The catalog is the official word on these matters, so read it, too.)

Once you have decided to declare the major, you will need to obtain the appropriate form from the Registrar's page, complete it, and have the current Math Department chair, as well as your current advisor, sign it, before returning it to the Registrar.

As you proceed through the major, or are trying to decide if you can complete it, check out our new Mathematics Major checklist:  Mathematics Major Checklist .pdf

Clarification on Intro Stats for Math Majors

Due to the introduction of the major in statistics, minor changes were made in the mathematics major. If you read below, you can find all the updated details on the mathematics major. In particular, note that Math 130 has been renamed Stat 111. Stat 111 will NOT count towards the mathematics major. However, students that took the course while it was still Math 130 may count it towards the mathematics major as a mathematics elective.  We strongly encourage students with questions about the mathematics and statistics majors to talk to a faculty member in the Department.

Required Courses

  • Introduction to the Calculus (Mathematics 111) (formerly 11)
  • Intermediate Calculus (Mathematics 121) (formerly 12)
  • Multivariable Calculus (Mathematics 211) (formerly 13)
  • Linear Algebra (Mathematics 271 or 272) (formerly 21 or 22)
  • Groups, Rings and Fields (Mathematics 350) (formerly 26)
  • Introduction to Analysis (Mathematics 355) (formerly 28)

Depending on background, mathematics majors may place out of several of these core courses. Starting with the class of 2016, students who place out of Math 271/272, Math 350, or Math 355 by taking a competency exam must replace each such course with an additional Mathematics course numbered 135 or higher.

Elective Mathematics Courses

Along with the required courses, a major must complete three elective courses in Mathematics numbered 135 or higher. In addition, a major must complete two other courses, each of which is either an elective course in Mathematics numbered 135 or higher or a course from outside Mathematics, but in a related-field, chosen from among COSC 201, 301, and 401; ECON 300, 301, 361, and 420; PHIL 350; any Physics course numbered 116 or higher (exclusing PHYS 227); and STAT 230, 330, 335, and 495. Note that this requirement can be satisfied by taking two math electives, one math elective and one related-fields course, or two related-fields courses. Requests for alternative courses must be approved in writing by the chair of the Department in consultation with the Mathematics faculty within the Department via a petition from the student. To submit a petition, email the chair of the Department with relevant information about the course to be considered, for example, a syllabus from a recent semester of the course or a link to the course description. For study abroad petitions, approvals are contingent on submission of a transcript showing the grade earned in the course, in order to aid in student advising.

Students who have taken Math 130 may count it towards the Mathematics major. Students who took Math 230, 330, or 335 may count those towards the Mathematics major as well.

 Students who declared their Mathematics major before May 17, 2014 may count toward the major an approved outside course together with a requisite for that course chosen from the same discipline.

 Old course numbers for related-fields electives are as follows: Computer Science 20, 30, and 38, any Physics course numbered 16 or higher, excluding Physics 27, Philosophy 50, Economics 54, 58, 65, and 67.

Students electing a double major in Mathematics and Statistics may count MATH 111, MATH 121, MATH 211, and MATH 271 or 272 towards both majors. A maximum of one additional course taken to complete the Mathematics major may be counted towards the Statistics major. Ask a statistics or mathematics faculty for assistance if you are trying to figure this out! In short, a minimum of 17 courses would be needed to complete both majors with this overlap. A checklist for double majors in mathematics and statistics can be found here:  Double Major Checklist.pdf

Comprehensive Examination

A comprehensive examination for majors who are not participating in the Honors Program will be given near the beginning of the spring semester of the senior year. (Those who will complete their studies in the fall semester may elect instead to take the comprehensive examination at the beginning of that semester.) The examination covers Mathematics 211, 271 or 272, and a choice of Mathematics 350 or 355. Information describing the comprehensive examination can be obtained here .

Honors Program

Students are admitted to the Honors Program on the basis of a qualifying examination given at the beginning of the spring semester of their junior year. (Those for whom the second semester of the junior year occurs in the fall may elect instead to take the qualifying examination at the beginning of that semester.) The examination is described here. Before the end of the junior year, an individual thesis topic will be selected by the Honors candidate in conference with a member of the Department. After intensive study of this topic, the candidate will write a report in the form of a thesis which should be original in its presentation of material, if not in content. In addition, the candidate will report to the departmental colloquium on her or his thesis work during the senior year. Honors candidates are also required to complete Mathematics 345 and either Mathematics 450 or 455.  See Recent Theses for list of recent theses and Thesis Regulations for thesis regulations.

Other Aspects of the Mathematics Major

  • Departmental Colloquium:  All students majoring in Mathematics are expected to attend the departmental colloquium during their junior and senior years.
  • For a student considering graduate study, the Departmental Honors program is strongtly recommended.  Such a student is advised to take the Graduate Record Examination early in the senior year.  It is also desirable to have a reading knowledge of a foreign language, usually French, German, or Russian, as this is a requirement of many graduate programs in mathematics.
  • Honors Student Office:  All students in the Honors Program in Mathematics can use the Honors Student Office (013 Seeley Mudd).  Depending on the space available, other senior Mathematics majors may petition the Chair to use the Honor Student Office.
  • Study Abroad:  It is easy to combine the mathematics major with a semester or year spent abroad.  See Study Abroad.