The mathematics major 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, begin the process by filling out and submitting the departmental declaration form. After submitting that form, you will be contacted by the Department Chair.
As you proceed through the major or are trying to decide if you can complete it, check out our checklist for the Math Major:
You might also want to check out our example pathways through the mathematics major.
Requirements for the Major in Mathematics
The major in mathematics requires students to complete 11 courses (although they may place out of some). These courses are typically divided into a set of 6 core courses and 5 elective courses.
Required (Core) Courses
- Introduction to Calculus (Mathematics 106 or 111)
- Intermediate Calculus (Mathematics 121)
- Multivariable Calculus (Mathematics 211)
- Linear Algebra (Mathematics 271 or 272)
- Groups, Rings and Fields (Mathematics 350)
- Introduction to Analysis (Mathematics 355)
Depending on background, mathematics majors may place out of several of these core courses. Students who place out of Math 271/272 must replace the course with an additional mathematics course numbered 225 or higher. Students who place out of Math 350 or 355 must replace that course with an additional mathematics course numbered 300 or higher. (See details of this policy.) Mathematics majors may not apply a Pass grade* from an FGO or Pass/Fail option to any of the core courses required for the mathematics major, except by petition to the department. Similarly, honors students may not apply a Pass grade to any of the courses required for honors, except by petition to the department.
*Mathematics and Statistics students may apply a Pass grade from an FGO or pass/fail option to any course taken in 2020-21 required for the Math or Stat majors (including core courses) with the following restrictions: no more than one Pass grade may be applied to the Math or Stat major per term (Fall 20, January 21, Spring 21), and at most two total Pass grades from Fall 20, January 21, or Spring 21, can be applied to the Math or Stat major.
*Mathematics and Statistics students may apply a Pass grade from an FGO or pass/fail option to any course taken in Spring 2020 required for the Math or Stat majors (including core courses).
Elective Mathematics Courses
Along with the required courses, a major must complete three elective courses in Mathematics numbered 135 or higher. For majors declared after May 12, 2017, two of these electives must be numbered 200 or higher, and the remaining elective must be numbered 135 or higher**. In addition, a major must complete two other courses, each of which is either an elective course in Mathematics numbered between 135 and 490 or a course from outside Mathematics, but in a related field, chosen from among COSC 201 or 211, 301 or 311, and 401; ECON 300, 301, 361, and 420; PHIL 350; any Physics course numbered 116 or higher (excluding PHYS 227); any Astronomy course numbered 226 or higher; and any Statistics course numbered 200 or higher. Statistics courses cross-listed with Mathematics count as Mathematics electives. This two-course 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 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 the submission of a transcript showing the grade earned in the course, in order to aid in student advising. Honors students may petition the department to count one math thesis course as an elective toward the major**.
**For Mathematics majors in the class of 2021 or 2021E, instead of requiring that at least two of the three required Math electives towards the Mathematics major are numbered 200 or higher, it is required that at least one of the three required Math electives is numbered 200 or higher. Additionally, honors Mathematics thesis students in the class of 2021 or 2021E may count either Math 498 or Math 499 as a Math elective towards the Math major. No petition is required to do so.
Double majors in mathematics and statistics must complete a total of 20 courses (or 19, if statistics was declared prior to May 3, 2019). Math 111, Math 121, Math 271-or-272 (if required for their statistics major), and at most one other course (usually Math/Stat 360) can be counted towards both majors. Aside from this permitted overlap, statistics courses or computer science courses counted towards the statistics major may not also be counted towards the mathematics major. Double majors should fill out both major checklists and are encouraged to consult with faculty in the Department to verify that they have satisfied all requirements.
Clarification on Intro Stats for Math Majors
Stat 111 does NOT count towards the mathematics major, but Stat 135 does count as a mathematics elective. Either introductory course (Stat 111 or Stat 135) counts towards the statistics major, though Stat 135 is strongly recommended. We strongly encourage students with questions about majors in mathematics and statistics to talk to a faculty member in the Department.
Other Aspects of the Mathematics Major
- Departmental Colloquium: All students majoring in Mathematics are expected to attend Mathematics colloquia during their junior and senior years.
- For a student considering graduate study, the Departmental Honors program is strongly 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.
- Study Away: It is easy to combine the mathematics major with a semester or year spent away. See our math study away page for more information, or talk with a faculty member.