Undergraduate: Placement

Which First Math or Stats Course Should I Take ?

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics offers several courses (STA 108, MAT 112, MAT 118, MAT 120, MAT 183, MAT 190, MAT 196, MAT 253) that satisfy the Mathematics (GMT or quantitative reasoning) requirement of the General Education Program. This document and conversations with your advisor will help you decide which one(s) to take. See our Course Information page for sample syllabi and more information about these courses.

Elementary Statistics

STA 108 Elementary Introduction to Probability and Statistics helps you understand you understand what is going on in today’s data-driven world around you. STA 108 will expose the students to the basic statistical rudiments necessary to be an informed member of society. STA 108 is a course that teaches how to collect, organize, analyze, and make sense out of collected data.

Take STA 108 if:

  • You want to learn how to read numbers/data correctly, make predictions, and draw your own conclusions from it.
  • You want to learn how the result of a survey, poll, or study makes or doesn’t make methodological sense.
  • You want to learn how the mean (or average) is not the most trusted measure that we should use in our daily lives.

(Ancient and) Contemporary Topics

MAT 112 Contemporary Topics in Mathematics covers basic mathematics starting with discoveries by ancient greeks to present day applications of their ideas.

God made the integers, all else is the work of humans, Leopold Kronecker, 1886

Following Kronecker’s premise, we assume knowledge of the integers along with the operations addition (plus), subtraction (minus), and multiplication (times). We give examples of the work of humans that is called mathematics that is build on the integers and present practical applications of this work. The material covered includes applications of mathematics that are relevant for the digital age and to other liberal arts disciplines. The course culminates with the topic of public key cryptography. The presentation is rigorous but basic enough for its intended audience to follow.

Take MAT 112 if:

  • You are looking for a course that only requires minimal prior knowledge, that is, addition, subtraction, and multiplication of integers.
  • You are not comfortable with algebra.
  • You want to see several ‘unexpected’ applications of mathematics and learn a little about several deep areas of mathematics.
  • You want to understand what your computer does, when it establishes a secure connection to webpage.
  • You want to see that public key cryptography is not magic.

To get a better idea of what this course is about check out the the interactive notes on Ancient and Contemporary Mathematics.

Mathematics with Business Applications

MAT 118 Algebra with Business Applications is an introductory survey of algebra with emphasis on techniques and applications related to business. It also serves as a one-semester preparation for MAT 120 Calculus with Business Applications. It is not intended for students that plan to take MAT 196 Calculus A.

Take MAT 118 if:

  • You want to learn real-world applications of algebra to various subjects that you might use in your personal life or job.
  • You are thinking of becoming a business major: MAT 118 is a prerequisite to MAT 120 Business Calculus which is a requirement of most degrees in the business school. MAT 118 teaches you the algebra techniques you need to master in order to succeed in MAT 120

In MAT 118 Students will complete projects in case studies to apply these techniques to real-world situations. Students will formulate decisions based on quantitative arguments and communicate these decisions in laymen terms.

MAT 120 Calculus with Business Applications provides students an opportunity to appreciate certain concepts in fundamental mathematics, especially functions, limits, derivatives, and applications of the derivative with emphasis on applications in business and social sciences. This course does not serve as a prerequisite for MAT 292 (Calculus II). This is a terminal course and not adequate preparation for MAT 296 Calculus B.

Take MAT 120 if:

  • You liked algebra and are interested in a brief overview of differential calculus.
  • You want to learn how math can be useful for business & economics majors.

All students who need to take MAT 120 with sufficient background should take the MAT 120 Placement Test to see whether you need to take MAT 118 before MAT 120 or can directly enroll in MAT 120.

Mathematics for Life Sciences

MAT 183 Mathematics for Life Sciences emphasizes the applicability of mathematical content in the biological sciences as well as practical computational training suitable to upper level study in the biological sciences. Moreover, the course will present different content areas that are absent from a traditional precalculus course but are of particular suitability for computational problems that arise in the life sciences.

MAT 184 Calculus for Life Sciences introduces you to the applicability of calculus to the life sciences. You will also receive practical computational training suitable to upper level study in the biological sciences.


MAT 196 Calculus A, MAT 296 Calculus B and MAT 396 Calculus C are the main courses of our calculus sequence. The course MAT 190 Precalculus gets you ready for MAT 196 and there is also a support course MAT 181 Foundations of Calculus which can be taken concurrently with MAT 196.

Take Calculus if:

  • Your program requires you to take Calculus.
  • You will need Calculus for graduate or professional school.
  • You want to strengthen your degree with a Mathematics or Statistics Minor.
  • You like mathematics.

All students planning to take Calculus should take the Calculus Readiness and Diagnostic Test to determine which path into Calculus is right for them.