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Math FAQ


What courses should I take during my freshman and sophomore years?
The answer to this depends on whether or not you have already taken calculus. If you haven't had calculus or if you plan on taking it again in college, then the math courses you'll take during the first two years are as follows:

  Fall Semester Spring Semester
Freshman Year MAT121 Calculus I MAT122 Calculus II
MAT222 Calculus III (Quad 4)
Sophomore Year MAT231 Transitions to Higher Mathematics (Quad 1) MAT225 Differential Equations
MAT232 Linear Algebra

You may not need to take the first semester of calculus (see the next question). The following two schedules are typical options, depending on where you place.  Students wishing to have more time to focus on Calculus II are encouraged to ask whether Calculus III will be offered in the following semester, after MAT231 (depends on faculty availability).

Similarly, although we typically recommend taking MAT 232 Linear Algebra earlier because it provides a view to a different type of mathematics, many students do take MAT225 first, and MAT232 second.

  Fall Semester Spring Semester
Freshman Year MAT122 Calculus II
MAT221 Calculus III (Quad 2)
MAT232 Linear Algebra
Sophomore Year MAT231 Transitions to Higher Mathematics (Quad 1)

MAT225 Differential Equations
MAT3xx Mathematics Elective


  Fall Semester Spring Semester
Freshman Year MAT231 Transitions to Higher Mathematics (Quad 1)
MAT222 Calculus III (Quad 2)
MAT232 Linear Algebra
Sophomore Year MAT3xx Mathematics Elective MAT225 Differential Equations

I took calculus in high school; do I need to take it again?
This depends on your high school background. For those who scored 4 or 5 on an AP Calculus test, there are specific recommendations; for the Calculus AB exam you will receive 4 credits for MA121 and should enroll in MAT122, normally in the fall; for the Calculus BC exam, you will receive 4 additional credits for MAT122 and would only need MAT222 for calculus. In both of these cases you are welcome (in the latter case, strongly encouraged) to take MAT231 Transitions to Higher Mathematics in the fall. In general, if you scored 2 or less on the exam, you should take MAT121 Calculus I. Those with a 3 on an AP exam, transfer credit, or who feel that they had a strong introduction to calculus in high school should consult with faculty about proper placement.

Why would I take Calculus II and Calculus III at the same time?
In order to better prepare you for the sophomore level courses, as well as to properly serve other departments that need skills in calculus of several variables, we recommend that some students take Calculus II and the quad class Calculus III concurrently. You will probably find the classes support each other, as the techniques often cross over.  MAT222 is also sometimes offered in Quad 2, so it is possible to take them non-concurrently if this fits your educational plan better; speak with your advisor to see availability.

What are "quad classes"?
At Gordon, our semesters are divided into two 7-week "quads." This allows us to offer courses such as Calculus III which are more topical in nature. Quad classes run concurrently with full-semester classes, and many students enjoy the variety this enables within a semester system.

Which calculus class should I take?
If you are a prospective mathematics major or are thinking about another science as your field, you should plan on taking the MAT121,122 sequence. The MAT134 Survey of Calculus course is intended for biology or kinesiology majors (in conjunction with MAT220 Biostatistics) or for non-science majors choosing to study calculus for core credit.

Can I double major with mathematics?
Absolutely! The requirements overlap with those for Computer Science, Economics, Physics, and the other natural sciences.  However, the math major is flexible enough for students to have combined it with Biblical Studies, Linguistics, Art, and/or the many other programs Gordon offers such as a premedical/health professions curriculum.

Can I study abroad as a mathematics major?
Certainly! One option for strong students is the well-known Budapest Semesters in Mathematics. A newer option students double majoring in education may enjoy is the Budapest Semester in Math Education.  It is also possible to do a more traditional study abroad option; both require careful planning and consultation with the Global Education Office.

What can I do with a math major?
Just about anything! See our Math Career Information page, as well as the next question.

What are the junior and senior seminars?
We recognize that many students come to mathematics because they enjoy it, and not with a specific career goal in mind.  To assist with thinking about both career and other vocational issues from a Christian point of view, we offer MAT391, a Vocation Seminar where we invite alumni to talk about different career directions, explore some of the issues surrounding vocation and our calling to serve Christ, as well as discuss other practical issues.  If you are considering study abroad or internships, or just aren't sure what you might do with a math major, you may take this as early as your sophomore year.

Our senior seminar, MAT 491, is intended as a capstone experience of sorts.  In addition to encountering interesting mathematics (and mathematical stories) from throughout the past 2500 years, we give a real opportunity to talk about some of the foundational issues about what mathematics is, and the connections to worldviews and our faith.

What higher-level courses do you offer?
We rotate our junior/senior-level courses on a two-year schedule. Although the offerings do change occasionally depending on faculty interest, typically we offer courses in Abstract Algebra, Real Analysis, Operations Research, Probability, Statistics, Numerical Analysis, Geometry and Number Theory. There are also occasional Topics courses in fields like Foundations of Mathematics, Math of Voting, Graph Theory, or Complex Analysis.

There is also a junior "vocation" seminar and a senior seminar addressing issues of history and worldviews.  Finally, we have also done independent studies and research with students in a number of fields of student interest, usually in conjunction with honors in mathematics; this has included advanced operations research, representation theory and connections to computer science.

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