Math Department
Frequently Asked Questions


1. Is there a "math requirement" at Bryn Mawr?

2. What Advanced Placement Exam scores or IB Higher Level Exam scores are needed for credit in mathematics at Bryn Mawr?

3. What help and support systems are available in Bryn Mawr's Mathematics program?

4. What special arrangements are needed to complete double majors?

5. What is required to minor in mathematics?

6. Can I take a semester abroad while majoring in mathematics?

7. What should I do to prepare for high school teaching of mathematics?

8. What opportunities for student employment exist in the Mathematics Department?

9. Is independent research possible for undergraduates?

10. What is required to earn a degree with honors in mathematics?

11. Can I take graduate courses while maintaining undergraduate status at Bryn Mawr?

12. What is the 3/2 Engineering Program?



1. Is there a "math requirement" at Bryn Mawr?

There is no "math requirement" at Bryn Mawr.   There is a Quantitative Skills requirement, which can be fulfilled by taking one semester of mathematics at the 100 level or above, or by taking any other course at the college that is marked Q in the course guide.  

In addition, you must complete the Division II requirement with two math or science courses, one of which must be a lab science. All of the 100 and 200 level mathematics courses double count for both the Quantitative requirement and one Division II course (non-lab), except for Math 104 Statistics (which only satisfies Q).

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2. What Advanced Placement Exam scores or IB Higher Level Exam scores are needed for credit in mathematics at Bryn Mawr?

If you scored a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Calculus BC Exam, or a 5, 6, or 7 on the IB Higher Level Exam, then you have earned two course credits toward your Bryn Mawr degree.   Your first mathematics course will be Math 201: Multivariable Calculus.   Refer to our sample program to major in mathematics if 201 is your first math course.

If you scored a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam, then you have earned one course credit toward your Bryn Mawr degree.   Your first math course will be Math 102: Calculus 2.  See our sample program to major in mathematics if Math 102 is your first math course.

All other students are strongly encouraged to take the Mathematics Placement Exam so they can be best advised.

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3. What help and support systems are available in Bryn Mawr's Mathematics program?

The support structure of the Bryn Mawr Mathematics Department is second to none.   Faculty members post office hours to guarantee times when they are available to help students; but, in general, the mathematics faculty members welcome students to ask questions at any time, both in and out of class.  

In addition to faculty office hours, the department has problem sessions scheduled for most courses several times during the week, so that students can get help on homework and other course assignments.   Student study groups are organized and strongly encouraged in most mathematics classes.   There is also a private tutoring service, free of charge, provided by the Dean's office for all introductory courses.

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4. What special arrangements are needed to complete double majors?

  A satisfactory program must be developed to meet the requirements of both majors.   Typically only one or two courses may be counted toward both major programs, and the details need to be approved.   Meet with your Major Advisor in each department to plan a schedule.   It is wise to complete advanced courses (and some research, if possible) in the field you wish to pursue as a career. To view sample programs of double majors visit our sample programs page.

CAUTION:   This can be an overload!   Double majoring can mean that you do a "minimum major" in each subject instead of going more deeply into one or the other.

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5. What is required to minor in mathematics?

A minor in mathematics requires five courses in mathematics at the 200 level or higher, of which at least two must be at the 300 level or higher.

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6. Can I take a semester abroad while majoring in mathematics?

Programs can be arranged at various foreign universities.   Discussion with the Major Advisor must take place as early as possible to access the feasibility of accomplishing this within the mathematics major.   Sample programs for a semester abroad can be found at our sample programs page. In recent years, students have attended programs in England, Scotland, Australia, and Spain, just to a name a few.   For those strongly interested in mathematics, there is a very intensive program in Budapest, Hungary.   See the web site at www.stolaf.edu/depts/math/budapest/.

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7. What should I do to prepare for high school teaching of mathematics?

Students can major in mathematics and earn Pennsylvania Secondary School Teaching Certification in mathematics by completing the requirements set by the Education Program.   Interested students should consult early with an advisor from the Education Program for appropriate Education courses that culminate with the Practice Teaching experience during the second semester of the senior year.   Visit our programs page for a sample program. It is also possible to major in Mathematics and complete just a minor in Education.

In addition there is a 5th year teacher certification option available where graduates of Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges may obtain PA state certification by completing an additional year of study at reduced tuition. See the Teacher Education web site for details. One can also consider private schools, which do not require education and teacher certification courses. Many masters degree programs in education or teaching give training and certification for students with undergraduate majors in science disciplines. In addition, the "Teach for America" program aims to encourage bachelor's graduates in science to consider teaching as a career (www.teachforamerica.org).

Keep in mind that employment in the mathematics department in the following capacities provides excellent preparation for teaching:   grading homework assignments, running problem sessions, serving as a mathematics lab supervisor, tutoring, and peer-instructing. For further information, consult with Amy N. Myers (anmyers@brynmawr.edu). 

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8. What opportunities for student employment exist in the Mathematics Department?

Mathematics majors can apply for employment in the Mathematics Department.   Positions that are available each academic year are as follows:   grader of homework assignments, problem session instructor, mathematics computer lab supervisor and grader of labs, private tutor, Trigonometry Mini-Course peer-instructor (fall semester), Senior Tutor, supervisor of Open Hours in the Mathematics Computer Lab, or administrative assistant to the technical secretary of the Mathematics Department.   Fill out our application for employment.   Any questions should be directed to Amy N. Myers at anmyers@brynmawr.edu.

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9. Is independent research possible for undergraduates?

Increasing numbers of undergraduates are getting a sneak preview at research mathematics by attending one of the many Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU's) offered each summer throughout the country.   You can check out the list of programs at www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/reu/.  Students may also apply for a summer stipend to do research at Bryn Mawr with a professor.

During the academic year, research may be done for credit by making arrangements (the previous semester) with a research supervisor and then enrolling in the proper sections of Math 395 or 396 (Research Seminar) or Math 403 (Supervised Work). Research in the summers and during the academic year is encouraged for a student if it meets her career goals, but it is not required for the major.   In all circumstances, research should not be viewed as a substitute for enrolling in advanced courses in the major.

 

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10. What is required to earn a degree with honors in mathematics?

A degree with honors in mathematics will be awarded by the department to students who complete the major in mathematics and who meet the following further requirements:  

•  at least two additional semesters of work at the 300 level or above (this may include research courses);
•  completion of a meritorious project consisting of a written thesis and an oral presentation of the thesis;
•  a major grade point average of at least 3.6, calculated at the end of the senior year.

An honors project normally requires two semesters of independent study with a faculty member. A student interested in pursuing honors should approach faculty members at the end of her junior year to determine the availability of a project of mutual interest. The written thesis must be completed by the last day of classes in the spring semester, and preferably a week before the oral presentation is given. The formal decision on honors is determined by a vote of the math faculty after the oral presentation and after the final version of the written thesis has been submitted.

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11. Can I take graduate courses while maintaining undergraduate status at Bryn Mawr?

Students who have completed advanced undergraduate courses because of Advanced Placement exams or other acceleration process may be given permission by the department to enroll in graduate courses.   This gives advanced students an opportunity to study mathematical content at a sophisticated level beyond the normal undergraduate challenges.   Accelerated students may also choose to complete both an A.B. and an M.A. in mathematics, called the A.B./M.A. program.   The norm for this program is for a student to complete the work in four years, doing research for and writing an M.A. thesis in the fourth year.   A student usually applies to this program during her sophomore year.   Details of the requirements can be discussed with a Major Advisor. Visit the AB/MA website for general information, and see our specific sample program for mathematics.

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12. What is the 3/2 Engineering Program?

Students can complete three years at Bryn Mawr and then two at the California Institute of Technology receiving at the end an A.B. in Mathematics from Bryn Mawr and a B. S. in engineering from CalTech.   There are other options if you are considering careers in engineering such as enrolling for a Masters in Engineering after finishing a science A.B. at Bryn Mawr.   To discuss the details of a particular program consult with the Pre-Engineering Program Advisor (usually a faculty member in either the Physics or Chemistry Department).

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