Mathematics Education Advising Guide

Mathematics Education Major

This section lists the requirements of the Mathematics Education major.  A grade of C- or higher is necessary in all courses used to satisfy the requirements of the major.  Additionally, you can use the Mathematics Major Form, This form will help you plan out your mathematics courses and requirements which are as follows:

  1. The Mathematics Core: These five courses form the core of the major and should usually be taken during the first and second years.  
    1. MCS-122 Calculus II or MCS-132 Honors Calculus II
    2. MCS-150 Discrete Mathematics
    3. MCS-220 Theory of Calculus
    4. MCS-221 Linear Algebra
    5. MCS-222 Multivariate Calculu
  2. Breadth: These two courses in cognate fields to mathematics serve to give breadth to the mathematics major.
    1. MCS-142 Introduction to Statistics
    2. MCS-177 Introduction to Computer Science I
  3. Immersive Experience: A sequence of two 300 level courses 
    1. MCS-303 and MCS-313
  4. Collaborative Experience: A course which includes a significant component of collaborative work in groups. 
    1. MCS-358 Mathematical Model Building
    2. MCS-368 An approved internship or summer research opportunity
  5. Elective: One additional course chosen from the following:  
    1. MCS-314 Modern Algebra II
    2. MCS-321 Elementary Theory of Complex Variables
    3. MCS-331 Real Analysis
    4. MCS-344 Advanced Topics in Mathematics
    5. MCS-350 Honor’s Thesis
    6. MCS-353 Continuous Dynamical Systems
    7. MCS-355 Scientific Computing and Numerical Analysis
    8. MCS-357 Discrete Dynamical Systems
    9. MCS-391 Independent Study

Sample Student Plans

All students should ideally lay out a schedule of their own showing what courses they plan to take, and when they plan to take them. The schedule may not accurately forecast the future, but it is helpful none the less.  A printable sample plan can be found on the Mathematics Major Form

Math Education (Even Year Graduation)

  Fall J Term Spring
1st Year MCS-122   MCS-177
MCS 222
2nd Year MCS-220   MCS-221
3rd Year *MCS-313   MCS-150
4th Year Elective
*MCS-358 Student

Math Education (Odd Year Graduation)

  Fall J Term Spring
1st Year MCS-122   MCS-177
MCS 222
2nd Year MCS-220   MCS-221
3rd Year  Elective
*MCS-358  *MCS-303
4th Year *MCS-313    Student

Starting with Calculus I

  Fall J Term Spring
1st Year  MCS-121
MCS 142
2nd Year  MCS-222
3rd and 4th Years    See the Even and Odd year
graduation schedules above. 

Starting with Pre Calculus

  Fall J Term Spring
1st Year  MCS-118
MCS 150
2nd Year  MCS-122
3rd and 4th Years    See the Even and Odd year
graduation schedules above. 

Honors Program

In order to graduate with honors in mathematics, a student must complete an application for admission to the honors program, showing that the student satisfies the admission requirements, and then must satisfy the requirements of the program.

Admission to the Honors Program

The requirements for admission to the honors program are as follows:

  1. Completion of MCS-121 (Calc I), MCS-122 (Calc II) or MCS-132 (Honors Calc II), MCS-220 (Intro to Analysis), MCS-221 (Linear Algebra), MCS-222 (Advanced Calculus), MCS-142 (Intro Stats), and MCS-177 (Intro CS I) with a quality point average greater than pi.
  2. Approval by the Mathematics Honors Committee of an honors thesis proposal. (See the Mathematics Honors Thesis Guidelines, reprinted below.)

Requirements for Graduation with Honors

The requirements of the honors program, after admission to the program, are as follows:

  • Attainment of a quality point average greater than pi in courses used to satisfy the requirements of the major. If a student has taken more courses than the major requires, that student may designate for consideration any collection of courses satisfying the requirements of the major.
  • Approval by the Mathematics Honors Committee of an honors thesis. The thesis should conform in general outline to the approved proposal (or an approved substitute proposal), should include approximately 160 hours of work, and should result in an approved written document. Students completing this requirement will receive credit for the course MC96 (Honors Thesis), whether or not they graduate with honors. (See the Mathematics Honors Thesis Guidelines, below.)
  • Oral presentation of the thesis in a public forum, such as the departmental seminar. This presentation will not be evaluated as a criterion for thesis approval, but is required.

Honors Thesis Guidelines

Mathematics honors thesis proposals should be written in consultation with the faculty member who will be supervising the work. The proposal and thesis must each be approved by the Mathematics Honors Committee. These guidelines are intended to help students, faculty supervisors, and the committee judge what merits approval.

The thesis should include creative work, and should not reproduce well-known results; however, it need not be entirely novel. It is unreasonable for an undergraduate with limited time and library resources to do a thorough search of the literature, such as would be necessary to ensure complete novelty. Moreover, it would be rare for any topic to be simultaneously novel, easy enough to think of, and easy enough to do.

The thesis should include use of primary-source reference material. As stated above, an exhaustive search of the research literature is impractical. None the less, the resources of inter-library loan, the faculty supervisor's private holdings, etc. must be tapped if the thesis work is to go beyond standard classroom/textbook work.

The written thesis should sufficiently explain the project undertaken and results achieved that someone generally knowledgeable about mathematics, but not about the specific topic, can understand it. The quality of writing and care in citing sources should be adequate for external distribution without embarrassment.

The thesis must contain a substantial mathematical component, though it can include other disciplines as well. If a single thesis simultaneously satisfies the requirements of this program and some other discipline's honors program, it can be used for both (subject to the other program's restrictions). However, course credit will not be awarded for work which is otherwise receiving course credit.

The Mathematics Honors Committee will maintain a file of past proposals and theses, which may be valuable in further clarifying what constitutes a suitable thesis. In order to provide some guidance of the sort before the program gets under way, here are some possible topics that appear on the surface to be suitable:

  • A student could study the history surrounding Fermat's last theorem, and discuss and explain past failed attempts and the recent successful attempt to prove this theorem.
  • A student could research the topic of knot theory and discuss the implications of this theory to the study of DNA and other biological materials.
  • A student could study the use of wavelets in signal analysis, and the general usefulness of orthonormal families of functions in signal analysis.

Senior Oral Exam

 As described above, every math major must either take an additional upper level math course from a specified list or alternatively submit to oral examination during the Spring semester of their final year.

A student who chooses to take the oral examination selects, in consultation with a faculty member, a topic to research. They then present a 20-minute talk on that topic to an examining committee of three faculty members. At the conclusion of the talk, the faculty question the student about the talk, and also about fundamental topics from the student's full four years' of courses. The goal is not to require recollection of details, but rather to make sure that the student is leaving with the essentials intact.

The examination committee confers privately immediately after the examination and delivers the results to the student at the conclusion of their deliberations. The outcome is either that the student is deemed to have satisfied the requirement or alternatively that the student is requested to retry the examination at a later date. In the latter case, specific suggestions for areas of improvement are provided by the faculty committee.

More information about the oral examination procedures and schedule are provided routinely to those fourth-year majors who will likely choose to take the examination.