Mar 02, 2024
Requirements for Major
The study of mathematics is motivated by its wide applicability and its intrinsic beauty. Mathematical theories often grow out of problems that appear in the physical and biological sciences, engineering, economics, finance and the social sciences. Applications often draw on mathematics that was created for completely different purposes. The mathematics program at William and Mary allows students to design a major based on their own interests and career goals and prepares students for post-baccalaureate employment and for further study of mathematical sciences and related disciplines. There are three concentrations within the major – the Standard Concentration, the Applied Mathematics Concentration and the Pre-College Mathematics Teaching Concentration. Study options include applied and pure mathematics, operations research, statistics, and teaching at the elementary or secondary level. Students can also design elective programs needed for careers in actuarial science and industrial mathematics, for interdisciplinary work in fields such as economics, business and social sciences, or for graduate studies.
Information about the mathematics major, career choices and appropriate courses of study is available from the department’s academic advisors and the Office of Career Services as well as informally from the mathematics faculty.
Major Writing Requirement:
A student in any Mathematics major concentration satisfies the upper-division mathematics writing requirement in one of the following ways:
- Completion of Math 300 with a grade of C- or better, which requires the writing of an expository paper on some mathematical topic
- Completion of MATH 495-MATH 496 with a grade of C- or better, which requires the writing of an Honors thesis;
For either of these options, the student registers for the course in a section corresponding to the faculty member who has agreed to supervise the student. For students In the Pre-College Mathematics Teaching Concentration, the writing requirement must incorporate some element of the history of mathematics.
Computer Proficiency Requirements:
A student in any Mathematics major concentration must show proficiency in some high-level computer programming language at the level of CSCI 141. This is normally done by receiving a grade of at least C- in CSCI 141. Exceptions require the department chair’s permission.
In addition, students in the Applied Concentration must demonstrate proficiency at the level of CSCI 241. This is normally done by taking and passing this course.
Enriching the Mathematics Major:
The requirements described below are the minimal requirements for the mathematics major, and most mathematics majors take courses beyond that minimum. Students wishing to obtain a deeper understanding of mathematics (e.g., in preparation for graduate school) should take additional upper-division courses. Second courses to make year-long sequences in linear algebra, analysis, abstract algebra, numerical analysis, statistics, or operations research are particularly recommended.
The Standard Mathematics Concentration
This is the most flexible of the three concentrations, allowing the widest choice of electives. Students who are considering graduate study often pursue this concentration, as do some students aiming for pre-college teaching, but the flexible requirements of the concentration are also appropriate for students with other goals. The major requirements of the Standard Concentration are:
- Completing the major writing requirement and computer proficiency requirement as described above;
- MATH 307 - Abstract Algebra (3)
- MATH 311 - Elementary Analysis (3)
- † MATH 495 - Honors (3)
- † MATH 496 - Honors (3)
- Plus three other three-credit 400 level mathematics courses and one three-credit mathematics course at the 300-400 level (for a total of at least eight upper-division courses).
- (Excluding Math 495-6) Three three-credit mathematics courses at the 400-level, plus two other three-credit mathematics courses at the 300-400 level (for a total of at least seven upper-division courses).
With permission of the department chair, certain three-credit upper-division mathematical courses from other departments (e.g., Computer Science, Economics, or Physics) may be used as upperdivision elective courses in this requirement.
Entering students may receive credit for mathematics courses through AP or IB and transfer credit. In each of the mathematics major concentrations, well-prepared students may begin their studies beyond MATH 111 without receiving credit for earlier courses listed in the core requirements section of each concentration. Each skipped course for which the student does not receive credit must be replaced by an additional three-credit 300-400 level mathematics course.