Mathematics Major

Galileo said that “mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.” Our mathematics courses are fundamentally intended to develop and sharpen your skills in this language; with mathematical understanding comes an increased awareness of and appreciation for the natural order behind God’s creation.

Mathematics has long been regarded as a natural component of a liberal arts education because of its strongly analytical, problem-solving emphasis. Recently, there has been increased recognition of the importance of mathematics in the job market; in a technological society, doors are often closed to job-seekers with a deficient mathematics background. If you desire mathematical preparation for a career in industry, scientific research, engineering or education, you’re well-advised to consider a math major or many courses in mathematics. If you’re interested in engineering, you can take a pre-engineering program of two- or three year duration at Northwestern before transferring to an engineering school to complete your training.

Math department homepage


Mathematics electives: 9 credits (excluding 090, 105, 107, 109, 111, 117 and 308)
MAT 112QR - Calculus I
(4 credits) (IGE option under Quantitative Reasoning) This course is a study of functions, limits, derivatives and integrals with a strong emphasis on both theory and applications.Note: Meets four times per week.Prerequisites: C- or higher in MAT109, or an ACT math score of at least 24 (SAT 550 or above), or permission of mathematics department chair.
MAT 180 - Logic and Discrete Mathematics
An introduction to the language and logic of mathematical proof via topics in discrete mathematics. Topics will include logic, elementary number theory, basic set theory and methods of mathematical proof (direct proof, indirect proof, induction).Prerequisite: C- or better in MAT112 or permission of instructor.(3 credits)
MAT 211 - Calculus II
A study of transcendental functions, techniques of integration, improper integration, sequences, series, polar coordinates and conic sections.Prerequisite: C- or better in MAT112 or permission of instructor.(4 credits)
MAT 212 - Calculus III
A study of the cylindrical and spherical coordinate systems, vectors in two dimensions and three dimensions, vector valued functions, functions of several variables, multiple integration, and vector calculus.Prerequisite: C- or better in MAT211 or permission of instructor.(4 credits)
MAT 317 - Linear Algebra
A study of the algebra of matrices and vector spaces including matrix operations, systems of equations, determinants, properties of real vector spaces, eigenvalues and eigenvectors.Prerequisite: C- or better in MAT112, 180 or permission of instructor.(3 credits)
Choose one course: 3 credits
MAT 316 - Probability and Statistics I
A post-calculus course in probability and statistics, which develops the theory of discrete and continuous distributions, expected value, random variables and inferential statistics.Prerequisites: C- or better in MAT116 or 117, 180, 211 or permission of instructor.(3 credits, alternate years, consult department)
MAT 411 - College Geometry
A study of topics in Euclidean geometry as well as axiomatic systems, non- Euclidean geometry, and projective geometry.Prerequisite: C- or better in MAT180 or permission of instructor.(3 credits, alternate years, consult department)
Choose one course: 3 credits
ECO 390 - Game Theory
This course is an introduction to and survey of the theory of games (multiperson decision theory) and its applications, primarily in economics. The Nash equilibrium concept will be carefully developed to provide a basis for analyzing various forms of strategic interaction. Areas of application will include oligopolistic markets, common resource markets, stock market microstructure and corporate takeovers. In addition to economic applications, we will use game theory to explore selected political, social and religious issues. Prerequisites: MAT111 or 112, or permission of instructor. (4 credits; alternate years, consult department)
MAT 312 - Differential Equations
A study of the elementary theory, methods of solution, and applications of differential equations, which may include topics such as first order ordinary differential equations, linear equations with constant coefficients, series solutions, variation of parameters, Laplace Transforms, linear systems, partial differential equations, and Fourier Series.Prerequisite: C- or better in MAT211 or permission of department chair.(3 credits)
PHY 212 - Classical Physics II
A continuation of Classical Physics I. Topics will include simple harmonic oscillation, mechanical and electromagnetic waves, and electromagnetism.Prerequisite: successful completion of PHY211 with a grade of C- or better.(4 credits)
PHY 270 - Classical Dynamics
Choose one course: 3 credits
MAT 412 - Real Analysis
A study of real-value functions including such topics as continuity, sequences and series, differentiation and integration. Students will also be introduced to the concept of a general metric space.Prerequisite: C- or better in MAT180, 211, or permission of instructor.(3 credits, alternate years, consult department)
MAT 419 - Introduction to Abstract Algebra
A study of groups, normal groups and factor groups, Cayley's Theorem, rings, ideals, homomorphisms, integral domains, fields, polynomial rings, field extensions and zeros of polynomials.Prerequisite: C- or better in MAT317 or permission of instructor.(3 credits, alternate years, consult department)

Cognate requirements:

CSC 171QR - Computer Science I
(4 credits) (IGE option under Quantitative Reasoning) This is the first in a two-semester sequence of courses that introduces students to fundamental aspects of the field of computing; focusing on problem-solving, software design concepts and their realization as computer programs. Topics include procedural abstraction, control structures, iteration, data types and their representation. An introduction to a high-level language, for the purpose of gaining mastery of these principles, will be provided in lectures and hands-on laboratory experiences.Prerequisite: C- or better in MAT090, an ACT math score of 20 or above (SAT 480 or above), or a passing score on the MAT090 placement exam.
Choose one course: 4 credits
CHE 433WIx - Introductory Physical Chemistry
PHY 211 - Classical Physics I
For students in mathematics, the physical sciences, and those students seeking candidacy to a medical school or other graduate program. Topics will include kinematics, Newtonian mechanics, energy, momentum, and thermodynamics. Prerequisite: C- or higher in MAT112, or consent of department chair. (MAT112 may be taken concurrently with PHY211). (4 credits)

Total credits required: 45


Students may choose to count CHE433, Introductory Physical Chemistry and/or CHE436, Intermediate Physical Chemistry toward mathematics electives in the mathematics major. CHE433, Introductory Physical Chemistry may not count as both the cognate and a mathematics elective.

Students pursuing secondary education certification in mathematics need to include MAT411, MAT419, and either MAT316 or MAT116.