Undergraduate Studies in Mathematics

*NOTE ABOUT CALCULUS/LINEAR ALGEBRA PLACEMENT: The math department has online resources (click "Calculus Placement" on the sidebar) to help you decide what calculus or linear algebra course to take first, including a self-guided placement exam you can take on your own at any time. You can also send questions to [email protected]. The Calculus Placement Advisor (Dan Katz) will hold a Zoom session in the begining of the academic year for students who want advice in real time; the host will start with an overview of the curriculum and some answers to frequently asked questions, and then answer individual questions as time allows. We recommend looking at the online exam before attending this session.

[Zoom Link for advising session: TDA

The undergraduate program in mathematics at Brown is designed to present students with challenging courses that will train them for any future they desire be it in the economy, in government, or in academe. We are also quite flexible in placing students; our goal being to discover a student's level of competence and then offering a stimulating course.

For first year students, we have courses at many different levels, starting at precalculus and going on to the possibility of starting at advanced undergraduate courses. We offer a basic three-semester calculus sequence together with a course in linear algebra as a service to the rest of the university, as well as preparation for a math major. We have a two-semester advanced placement calculus sequence for those who have had a solid calculus background in secondary school. Finally, there is an honors calculus and honors linear algebra sequence for those who have excelled in secondary school calculus. Also, we have a one-semester calculus course for students interested in the social sciences. Click here for a short video about the calculus and linear algebra courses here at Brown.  

For those who wish to continue math at Brown, but not in the traditional calculus sequence, we offer a course on the nature of mathematical reasoning and also a course in elementary number theory, With this array of introductory courses, we are able to find for each first year student, a course that is just about right.

To major in Mathematics we require only six courses beyond elementary calculus and linear algebra. Most math majors take many more courses than this in math, but our requirements allow those who wish to major in math to take many courses in non-mathematical subjects. We feel that a broad undergraduate liberal education is important for any student at Brown. We offer courses in algebra, geometry, and analysis, but the only required course is in modern algebra. We also have a Sc.B. program for those who wish to concentrate more intensely in math. Students considering graduate school often take a Sc.B in math.

In addition, we have combined majors with the departments of physics, economics and computer science. Advanced undergraduates can also take graduate courses. Students can also design their own major by combining the study of mathematics with other subjects provided, as long as it makes an academically sound program.

Our faculty balances a lively interest in students and teaching with a distinguished research reputation. All professors teach at all levels of the curriculum. It is not uncommon for a faculty member to have several Ph.D. students and also to be teaching a graduate course and an undergraduate course, the latter possibly being first year calculus. The first year honors calculus and linear algebra sequence and all advanced undergraduate courses are taught by professors. Also, our upper level undergraduate courses are usually fairly small allowing students and faculty to get to know one another on a personal basis.

There is a Department Undergraduate Group (DUG) which is organized by undergraduate math majors. They sponsor talks of interest to undergraduates, study sessions, and other activities.

We are often asked what a person does with a degree in mathematics after leaving Brown. Each year, several of our math majors go to graduate school to continue studying mathematics and then teach in a college or university. Former Brown students now teach at the University of Chicago, at UCLA, at SUNY-Stony Brook, at Brown, and at other universities in this country. Also several of our graduates now teach at the secondary school level.  Others go into banking, insurance and other financial occupations.

With a degree in mathematics you can do pretty much anything you wish, but you often find an occupation where technical training is especially useful.
Concentrators in mathematics should complete the prerequisites by the end of their sophomore year. Those interested in graduate study in mathematics are encouraged to take Mathematics 1130, 1140, 1260, 1410, and 1540. Students who have not had a course at the Honors level (mathematics 350 or 540) should consider taking Mathematics 1010 before Mathematics 1130. Students are encouraged to take advanced courses whenever their preparation qualifies them to do so.

Visit the Math at Brown webpage for more concentration information and guidelines for honors theses.

Mathematics Degree Programs

*Watch this short video describing the 1000-level math courses*

Standard Program for the A.B. Degree

Prerequisites: multivariable calculus and linear algebra (Mathematics 180 or 200 or 350, plus 520 or 540).

Program: (1) Mathematics 1530; (2) five other 1000- or 2000- level Mathematics courses. (The year-long sequence 0750/0760 may be a substitute for one of these course credits).

Standard Program for the Sc.B. Degree

Prerequisites: same as for the A.B. degree.

Program: (1) Mathematics 1130 & 1140; (2) Mathematics 1530 and either 1540 or 1560; (3) four other 1000- or 2000-level Mathematics (The year-long sequence 0750/0760 may be a substitute for one of these course credits); (4) four courses in science, economics, or applied mathematics approved by the concentration advisor.

Honors: Honors degrees may be recommended for students who have exhibited high achievement in mathematics. Candidates must complete at least eight mathematics courses of the 1000- or 2000-level with sufficiently good grades, and must write an honors thesis under the guidance of a faculty member. The honors thesis is usually written while the candidate is enrolled in Mathematics 1970. The candidate should consult with the concentration advisor for precise grade requirements.

Writing Requirement

Any piece of expository writing about mathematics which includes the complete proof of at least one nontrivial theorem may be submitted in lieu of a second writing designated course between semesters 5-7 (or the penultimate semester).

Transfer Credit for Study Elsewhere

In a semester credit hour system, one Brown course is considered the equivalent of four semester hours. In a quarter credit hour system, one Brown course is considered the equivalent of six quarter hours. For that reason, the number of course transfer credits received for study away from Brown may not be equal to the number of courses taken. For example, a student taking three four-semester-hour courses, all properly approved for Brown transfer credit, will receive the equivalent of three Brown course credits. However, a student taking three four-quarter-hour courses, all properly approved for Brown transfer credit, will receive the equivalent of two Brown course credits.

In order to be considered for transfer credit, courses must be completed with a grade of C or better, and an official transcript must be received by the Office of the Registrar from the host institution. This transcript will be retained by the University. All transfer credit must receive faculty and Committee on Academic Standing approval. Students should also keep all records from their work away, including, e.g., course syllabi, exams, papers, notes, projects, and portfolios, in the event that post-approval is required from an academic department at Brown. It is the student's responsibility to clarify in advance any concerns regarding the amount of transfer credit which may be awarded.

The Brown transcript will indicate the total number of transfer credits received and the name of the host institution, as well as the approved course equivalencies and/or unassigned credits at Brown. Students applying to graduate and professional schools are often asked to provide official transcripts from all institutions at which they have been enrolled. In such cases, the student will need to request a copy of his/her transcript from the study-away institution to be sent to the other institution.