The Undergraduate Major in Mathematics
The mathematics major adapts to a number of purposes. It can emphasize the theoretical or the applied. It can be appropriate for professionals and nonprofessionals alike, and can be broad or narrow. It can also be combined easily with serious study in another subject in the physical, biological, or social sciences by means of a double major and/or concentration. Undergraduates who major in mathematics at Cornell are enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences and awarded the Bachelor of Arts degree upon graduation.
Prerequisites for the Major
Students are admitted to the minor after successfully completing a semester of linear algebra — MATH 2210, MATH 2230, or MATH 2940 with a grade of B– or better — and a semester of multivariable calculus — MATH 2220, MATH 2240, or MATH 1920 with a grade of B– or better. The department recommends MATH 2210-2220 or MATH 2230-2240. MATH 2130 and MATH 2310 are not recommended for students planning a math major; however, MATH 2130 with a grade of B+ or better may be accepted as a substitute for MATH 2220, and MATH 2310 with a grade of B+ or better may be accepted as a substitute for MATH 2210. A 3- or 4-credit computer programming course is also required with a letter grade of C– or better. Eligible courses include: CS 1110, 1112, 1114, 1115, 2110, and 2112. AP credit is also accepted.
Students who have taken a course in linear algebra and/or multivariable calculus should consider taking MATH 2230–MATH 2240. This sequence gives a more abstract, proof-oriented treatment of the material. Students with an advanced background in linear algebra and/or multivariable calculus should contact a faculty member in the Math Department for advice as soon as possible. Note that 4000-level linear algebra courses are generally not regarded as meeting the prerequisites for the math major.
Students who receive below the minimum grade in one of these prerequisite courses should contact the undergraduate coordinator immediately.
How to Apply
Applications are available in 310A Malott Hall. Please bring along a copy of your transcript; you can get one in B-7 Day Hall. Students may be provisionally admitted to the major when the last prerequisite course is in progress.
Requirements for the Major
A mathematics major interested in a concentration in a subject different from those listed below may develop a suitable individual program in consultation with his/her major advisor.
- Mathematics Concentration
- Applied Mathematics Concentration
- Computer Science Concentration
- Economics Concentration
- Mathematical Biology Concentration
- Mathematical Physics Concentration
- Operations Research Concentration
- Statistics Concentration
Note: At least 5 courses with a MATH prefix numbered 3000 or above must appear on the student’s transcript. (Double majors enrolling in cross-listed courses should pay particular attention to this constraint.)
A double major with computer science, economics, or physics can be facilitated by the corresponding concentrations. The Departments of Computer Science and Economics permit double majors to use courses in the corresponding concentrations to satisfy the requirements of both majors. Double majors with physics may count eligible physics courses toward both the physics major and the math major’s math physics concentration; however, math courses that are being used for an outside concentration for the physics major may not also be counted for the math major.
When enrolling in cross-listed courses, double majors must take care that at least 5 courses with a MATH prefix numbered 3000 or above will appear on their transcript. Students should consult other major departments about any further conditions they may have.
Some exceptional undergraduates, upon completing a rigorous foundation of 4000-level math courses, may wish to further develop their understanding of the material in subsequent graduate courses that the math department offers. The core courses from the mathematics graduate program — MATH 6110, MATH 6120, MATH 6310, MATH 6320, MATH 6510, and MATH 6520 — represent a good first exposure to graduate-level mathematics. MATH 6150, MATH 6160, MATH 6210, MATH 6220, MATH 6710, and MATH 6720 cover some additional material in a manner suitable to advanced undergraduates. Undergraduates taking graduate courses should have completed advanced undergraduate courses on the same topic with a grade of A– or better. Interested students should discuss the possibility of taking graduate courses with their faculty advisor in the Math Department prior to enrolling in the course.
- Senior Thesis Guidelines
- Honors Program
- Recommended Coursework for Future Teachers
- What Can One Do with a Major in Mathematics?
Questions? Contact Michelle Klinger (Undergraduate Coordinator).