Mathematical Sciences

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Undergraduate Programs

Mathematics belongs both to liberal arts and to sciences. Not only is it the language of science (including social science), but it is also studied for its own beauty. It is therefore one of the most vital and lively subjects in the university curriculum. In the technology-oriented climate of today, the department’s graduates have excellent employment opportunities.

The Mathematical Sciences Department has programs leading to BA, BS, MA and PhD degrees. (MAT and MSEd degrees are offered through the School of Education.) The department offers a BA program in mathematics with two tracks: one in mathematics and one in actuarial science. The challenging BS degree program provides excellent preparation for graduate work at any university. Students considering a BS degree should seek advice as early as possible and plan their schedules carefully to meet the demanding requirements.

The department collaborates with the School of Education in offering the five-year 3/2 (combined) program leading to a BA in mathematics and an MAT degree in mathematics adolescence education.

The department serves other disciplines by providing instruction in various mathematical skills. Traditional mathematical preparation for the hard sciences (biology, chemistry, economics, physics and engineering) is provided by MATH 221, 222, 304, 323, 327, 371, 375, 471, 478, 479 and other courses.

Statistics has long been a fundamental tool in a variety of fields. MATH 147 does not demand the knowledge of calculus that is required by the more rigorous (but still basic) probability and statistics two-course sequence MATH 447-448, by MATH 346 and by MATH 450-452.

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Grade Requirements and Prerequisites

  • A course in which a student earns a grade of C- or less is not acceptable as a prerequisite and cannot be used to fulfill the requirements for the major.
  • A Pass grade (P) does not count toward the major (unless the only grade available is Pass/Fail; in this case, consent of the department is required).
  • A grade-point average of 2.0 or higher in major courses is required for satisfactory completion of the major.
  • A student who has received credit for a course may not take one of its prerequisites for credit at a later time.
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BA Degree Program in Mathematics

The BA program in mathematics is highly flexible and allows each student to fashion a course of study to meet his or her individual needs and interests. While there is one major in mathematics, there are two tracks: one in mathematics and one in actuarial science.

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Mathematics Track

To obtain a BA degree in mathematics with a mathematics track, a student must complete a minimum of 10 courses as follows:

  • Calculus and Linear Algebra: MATH 221, 222, 323 and 304;
  • Number Systems: MATH 330; students are strongly advised to take this course as soon as they have completed MATH 222;
  • A pairing of two courses to be selected according to the student's interests from the following: MATH 401-402, 401-404, 401-407, 478-479, 375-478, 478-461, 461-462, 356-372, 371-471, 372-471, 371-472, 372-472, 447-448, 447-450, 381-386; CS 333-350, 333-432, 471-472, 333-373;
  • Three additional MATH courses numbered above 330. CS 333 may be substituted for one of these three additional courses if the sequence in the two-course pairing above is not a CS sequence.

At least three of the required mathematics courses listed above, and numbered above MATH 330, must be regular courses (not independent study) taken from the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

The 10-course requirement should be considered a strict minimum. Students are encouraged to take some additional mathematics courses numbered above MATH 330.

The flexibility of the mathematics track of the BA program makes it especially important for the student to get early and regular advice from the faculty advisor. See further comments under the headings “Departmental Advising” and “Mathematics and Computer Science.”

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Actuarial Science Track

The BA track in actuarial science is designed to prepare students for an actuarial career. Actuaries analyze and solve complex business and social problems related to insurance and pension plans. Professional advancement results from passing a series of examinations administered by the actuarial societies and by completion of specific courses or sets of courses approved by the actuarial societies. The track in actuarial science provides a strong preparation for an actuarial career. To obtain a BA degree in mathematics with an actuarial science track, a student must complete 10 courses from the Department of Mathematical Sciences and two courses from the Department of Economics as follows:

  • Calculus and Linear Algebra: MATH 221, 222, 323, 304;
  • Probability, Statistics and Actuarial Courses: MATH 346, 447 and 448;
  • Number Systems and Ordinary Differential Equations: MATH 330 and either 371 or 372;
  • One elective MATH course numbered above 330 other than 449;
  • Economics: ECON 160, 162.

At least three of the required mathematics courses listed above, and numbered above MATH 330, must be regular courses (not independent study) taken from the Department of Mathematical Sciences. MATH 449 is a preparation for the actuarial examination P/1. MATH 346 is a preparation for the actuarial examination FM/2. MATH 450 and 452 are a preparation for the actuarial examination MLC, MATH 454 is a preparation for the actuarial exam MFE.Students interested in an actuarial track should have knowledge of computer programming equivalent to CS 100, and also take courses in economics and finance.

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BS Degree Program in Mathematics

There are also two tracks to the BS degree: one in mathematics and one in actuarial science.
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Mathematics Track

This degree affords excellent preparation for graduate study in mathematics. A student must complete the following courses:

  • Calculus and Linear Algebra: MATH 221, 222, 323 and 304;
  • Number Systems: MATH 330; students are strongly advised to take this course as soon as they have completed MATH 222;
  • Algebra, Topology and Analysis: MATH 375, 401, 402 or 404, 461, 478 and 479.
  • Five additional courses, chosen from the following: any MATH course numbered above 330, including graduate courses; CS 333, 350, 373, 432, 471, 472; courses from other departments with prior approval by the director of undergraduate studies. At most, three of these five courses may be taken outside the math department.

Transfer, computer science and independent study credits may not be used for more than five courses numbered above MATH 330.

Exceptions to the requirements for the BS degree may, in rare cases, be allowed. They must be approved by the department.

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Actuarial Science Track

The BS track in actuarial science is designed to prepare students for an actuarial career. It is a mathematically stronger program designed for students who may wish to pursue a graduate degree in actuarial science. Actuaries analyze and solve complex business and social problems related to insurance and pension plans. Professional advancement results from passing a series of examinations administered by the actuarial societies and by completion of specific courses or sets of courses approved by the actuarial societies. The track in actuarial science provides a strong preparation for an actuarial career. To obtain a BS degree in mathematics with an actuarial science track, a student must complete 14 courses from the Department of Mathematical Sciences and 4 courses from the Department of Economics as follows:

  • Calculus, Linear Algebra, Number Systems, and Ordinary Differential Equations: MATH 221, 222, 323, 304, 330, and 371 or 372.
  • Probability, Statistics and Actuarial Courses: MATH 346, 447, 448, 450 and 452 or 454.
  • Advanced courses in Mathematics: MATH 478 and 479.
  • One elective MATH course numbered above 330 other than 449
  • Courses in Micro and Macroeconomics: ECON 160, 162, 360 and 362.

MATH 449 is a preparation for the actuarial examination P/1. MATH 346 is a preparation for the actuarial examination FM/2. MATH 450 and 452 are a preparation for the actuarial examination MLC.MATH 454 is a preparation for the actuarial exam MFE.Students interested in an actuarial track should have knowledge of computer programming equivalent to CS 100, and also take courses in economics and finance.

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Combined Program in Mathematics (BA) and Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Mathematics Adolescence Education

This program combines the bachelor of arts in mathematics (BA) program and the master of arts in teaching (MAT) program. The combined program provides an opportunity for a limited number of outstanding liberal arts students to graduate in five years with a BA mathematics and an MAT degree. The number of required mathematics courses in this program is the same as for the BA and MAT degrees completed separately. In the fourth year, a student takes 20 credits of courses in education, which double-count for BA electives. Students who are interested in this program should meet with the MAT mathematics coordinator in the School of Education and the MAT advisor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences early in the sophomore year to ensure that all requirements are being met in a timely manner and to learn about applying for the MAT component of the program.

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Honors in Mathematics

The Undergraduate Committee determines the recipients of departmental honors. Usually these will be students in the BS program. There is no formal nomination process. Final awarding of honors requires satisfactory completion of the student’s final semester courses as determined by the Undergraduate Committee.

A variation of the honors program involving a thesis or honors project is possible.

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Departmental Advising

Students considering a major in mathematical sciences should seek advice from the faculty as early as possible. Every declared major should have an assigned faculty advisor, and should meet regularly with the advisor to discuss course selection and career goals.

Mathematicians and statisticians are in demand, not only in mathematics teaching and research, and in the traditional fields of physics, chemistry, computer science and engineering, but also, and increasingly, in business, economics, environmental sciences, geology, biology and the health sciences, among others. Students interested in the applications of mathematics should consider a minor in another discipline or even a double major, and consult the faculty in the relevant departments.

A basic knowledge of computer programming is useful for most mathematics majors.

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Mathematics and Computer Science

The Computer Science Department in the Watson School offers a minor program that may be combined with a BA in mathematics to provide a strong background leading to careers in computer science. The BA in mathematics is designed to facilitate this combination by allowing two computer science courses to be included in the degree program. Students interested in mathematics and computer science should also consult with the Computer Science Department.

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Mathematics Minor

A minor in mathematical sciences requires the student to complete, with a grade higher than D, at least six departmental courses numbered above MATH 300, of which at least three are numbered MATH 330 or above. Transfer and independent study credit may not be used for more than one of the latter three courses. At most, two CS courses chosen from CS 333, 350, 373, 432, 471 or 472 may be counted toward the mathematics minor. The use of CS courses is subject to the transfer and independent study restriction. At least two courses numbered above MATH 330 must be taken from the Department of Mathematical Sciences. Students interested in pursuing a mathematics minor should consult with the undergraduate director. Note that Harpur College mandates that at least four of the courses for the minor must be in addition to those counted toward fulfillment of the student’s major.