Major Requirements in Mathematics

As you proceed through the major or are trying to decide if you can complete it, check out our checklist for the Math Major: 

Mathematics Major Checklist

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 (MATH 106 or MATH 111)
  • Intermediate Calculus (MATH 121)
  • Multivariable Calculus (MATH 211)
  • Linear Algebra (MATH 271 or MATH 272)
  • Groups, Rings and Fields (MATH 350)
  • Introduction to Analysis (MATH 355)

Depending on background, mathematics majors may place out of several of these core courses. Students who place out of MATH 211 and/or 271/272 must replace those courses with an additional mathematics course numbered between 225 and 490. (For MATH 211, that rule applies to students in the class of 2027 and above.) Students who place out of MATH 350 and/or 355 must replace those courses with an additional mathematics course numbered between 300 and 490. (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).  ‚Äč

Elective Courses

Along with the required courses, a major must complete five elective courses.

Two of these electives must be MATH courses numbered between 200 and 490, and one must be a MATH course numbered between 135 and 490.

The remaining two courses must each be either a MATH course numbered between 135 and 490, or a course from outside Mathematics, but in a related field, chosen from among the following options:

  • CHEM 361;
  • COSC 211, 223 (which cannot be counted towards the major in addition to MATH/STAT 360), 311, or 401;
  • ECON 224, 300, 301, 331, 361, or 420;
  • GEOL 341;
  • any PHYS course numbered 116 or higher (excluding PHYS 227);
  • ASTR 200 (which cannot be counted towards the major in addition to MATH/STAT 135);
  • and other ASTR course numbered 226 or higher;
  • any STAT course numbered 210 or higher.

Note that STAT courses cross-listed with MATH (that is, 135, 360, and 370) count as MATH electives. These remaining two courses can be both 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.

Comprehensives in Mathematics

Every mathematics major needs to take the Comprehensive Examination in Mathematics.  For more information, visit this page on Comprehensives in Mathematics.

Double-Counting Courses in Multiple Majors

With the exception of Mathematics and Statistics double majors, a student may count any of the courses listed above, either Core or Elective courses, towards the requirements of both the Mathematics major and another major at the college. 

Students who major in both Mathematics and Statistics may count MATH 111 and MATH 121 (if taken at Amherst), and one other course (usually MATH/STAT 360, which is required for the Statistics major) towards both majors. Any other courses, including COSC, MATH, or STAT courses, which might count towards both majors may only be used to satisfy the requirements of one.

Students who major in Mathematics, Statistics, and one or more other subjects must follow the restrictions listed above for Mathematics and Statistics double majors, but otherwise may count any courses towards both the Mathematics major and majors in other departments.

Students majoring in both Mathematics and Statistics should fill out checklists for both majors and are strongly 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 and STAT 136 do NOT count towards the Mathematics major, but STAT 135 does count as a mathematics elective. Any of these introductory courses (STAT 111, STAT 135, or STAT 136) 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.
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Amherst math group at JMM 2020