What should be a plan by semester for taking courses to succeed in the math major? There is relevant objective information elsewhere on our Math Majors webpage. Our remarks are a mix of facts and strategy, based on experience, for successfully navigating through the math major requirements and opportunities.

Generalities: There is a great range in our majors. Some aim for grad school, some for secondary education, some for a job after a bachelor's degree. Some are very strong in mathematics, others do not have such great natural talent. Some have no outside commitments; others work 20 hours a week. Many are double majors. There is no path through the major which is best for all students.

As you change and grow during the college years, your aims and circumstances and self-assessment will probably change. It's unlikely they will be the same at the end of your Maryland years as at the beginning. Nevertheless, it is valuable to make some plan for how you might go through the math major. If you think you have a goal and work on a plan to achieve it, then you will achieve it, or discover you want or need to change goals. If you have no plan, you might not confront the reality of your current goal until your options for change become limited.

Math 410: Math 410 is the watershed course for most math majors. There you do serious proofs which give you a true mathematician's understanding and open the door to further work. If you get through Math 410-411 in the junior year (preferably Fall), then you are over the hump in the math major, and in good shape for all the rest. If at all feasible, plan your program to give a good chance of success in Math 410 not later than the end of your junior year.

Math 410 is very challenging, and you should take it with sufficient preparation.

Effective Fall 2013, Math 310 will be a major requirement.  It will also be a prerequisite for Math 410.  One may be exempted from MATH310 if:

  • one receives A's in Math 240 and Math 241, or
  • one receives B's in Math340 and Math 341, or
  • one receives a B in CMSC250

 

Math 410 is our "gateway mathematical maturity course."
It is generally a bad idea to take Math 403 or Math 405 a semester before Math 410, as a "warmup". These courses should be and generally are of comparable difficulty as serious proof courses. Math 403 also covers material less familiar to the students. If you are not ready to take 410, then your are probably not ready for 403. 

 


Loads

  • In your junior and senior year, typically, it is appropriate to include two upper level math courses in a semester, and not more. That is about the pace for finishing in four years. This constraint may vary with the complementary course load, student, nature of the courses, etc. Talented students can take more.
  • Roughly, the hardest math undergraduate courses are 410, 411, 403 and 405. These are serious proof classes. Usually the first of these taken is 410. Except for a really strong student, the complementary math load should be light for the first hard class, and perhaps later.
  • On the other hand, a strong straight A student might be fine taking both 403 and 410. Just be careful about such a load. You can discuss with your math advisors what load might be appropriate for you.
  • For a typical math major: working more than 10 hours a week part time will tend to interfere with success with a full math major load. Rather than pass this limit, it may be better to borrow more money, get extra help from parents or or reduce the course load.


Course Selection

The mathematics department serves a wide range of students and recognizes that students come to us with various interests, talents, and career goals.  Some students, especially those who plan to attend graduate school in mathematics and become professional mathematicians, should consider taking the more theoretical math courses when they are academically ready.  Other students may be more interested in a general broad-based undergraduate education in mathematics, perhaps to supplement their other major, perhaps to further hone their analytic and quantitative skills.  These students will find that we have a large range of courses, both theoretical ones and less theoretical ones, that will suit their needs.  In particular:

Algebra Requirement.
Math 403 and 405 are hard. Math 401 is easier.

AMSC Requirement.
AMSC 460 is less theoretical than AMSC 466. AMSC 460 is the standard choice. Students with a theoretical inclination, especially those thinking of going to graduate school in mathematics or applied mathematics, are encouraged to take AMSC 466.

Differential equations requirement.
Almost all our majors satisfy this with Math 246. Math 436 (Differential Geometry) will satisfy this requirement.

Stat 400-401 vs. Stat 410-420.
Stat 400 and Stat 401 are introductory probability and statistics (respectively), as are Stat 410 and Stat 420. The latter two are much more theoretical and challenging and include many graduate students.

Graduate School: The program of a student aiming at graduate school in mathematics should include Math 403, 405, 410, 411, and 463. For students aiming at graduate school outside of mathematics, Math 410, 411 and 405 are usually the most valuable. The career center runs workshops on "How to apply for graduate school".

Tracks: There are four tracks through the math major: traditional, education, applied math and statistics.

  • Traditional (less theoretical option).
    An example would be MATH 246, 401, 410, 411, 406, 420, STAT 400, STAT 401, AMSC 460.
  • Traditional (more theoretical option).
    An example would be MATH 410, 411, 403, 405, AMSC 466 and two graduate classes.
  • Education.
    This track is aimed at secondary education/math double majors. These students have extremely crowded schedules and math course requirements which are a bit more lenient.
  • Statistics.
    This track is especially aimed at students who want to graduate with a marketable package of skills along with the Bachelor's degree. A strong student aiming at graduate school in statistics should take not only stat courses but also Math 411. The core of the usual Stat track is Stat 400, 401, 410, 430 (probability, statistics and data manipulation with SAS).


Sample four year plans (with CORE)
: The following sample four year plans cover the mathematics major requirements. These plans do not include the general education CORE requirements. There are many variations on these plans.

Traditional Track

YearFallSpring
Freshman Math 140
CMSC106 or 131
Engl 101
HL
Math 141
HA
HL/HA/HO
Lab Science
Sophomore Math 240
Math 241
Supporting sequence I
SH
Math 246
Math 310
Supporting sequence II
Non-lab Science
Junior Math 410
Math/Stat 4**
Supporting sequence III
Professional Writing
Math 411
Math 4**
SB
SB
Senior AMSC 460/466
Math/Stat 4**
Advanced Studies
Diversity
Math 4**
Math 4**
Advanced Studies

Education Track (old one, to be phased out Fall 2014)

YearFallSpring
Freshman Math 140
Supporting Sequence I (also CORE Sci)
Engl 101
HL
Math 141
Supporting Sequence II (also CORE Sci)
HA
HL/HA/HO

Sophomore Math 240
CMSC 106 or 131
SH
SB

Math 241
Math 310
SB
Diversity
Junior Math 410
Math 401
Professional Writing
Math 406
Math 430
Advanced Studies
Advanced Studies
Senior Stat 400
Math 402
Math 4**
Student teaching

Education Track (new one, effective Fall 2014)

YearFallSpring
Freshman

Math 140
Supporting Sequence I (also DSNL)
Engl 101
Humanities (DSHU/I Series)

TLPL 101

Math 141
Supporting Sequence II (also DSNL)
Oral Communitcations (FSOC)
History and Soc Sc (DSHS, DVUP, I Series)
TLPL 102
Sophomore Math 240
CMSC 122 (DSSP) or CMSN106 or 131
MATH274 (DSHU)
TLPL Knowing and Learning (DSHS)

Math 241
Math 310
TLPL Classroom Interactions (DVCC)

Junior

Math 410
Math 401
Professional Writing (FSPW)

TLPL Reading

Math 406
Math 430
TLPL Functions and Modeling
TLPL Reseach Methods (DSSP)
Senior

Stat 400
Math 402
Math 4**

TLPL Project Based Instructions (DSSP)

EDCI355

EDCI474

EDCI450

EDCI451

Statistics Track

YearFallSpring
Freshman Math 140
CMSC106 or 131
Engl 101
HL
Math 141
Lab Science
HA
HL/HA/HO
Sophomore Math 240
Math 241
Supporting sequence I
SH
Math 246
Math 310
Supporting sequence II
Non-lab Science
Junior Stat 400
Math 410
Supporting sequence III
Professional Writing
Stat 410
Stat 401
SB
SB
Senior AMSC 460
Stat 430
Diversity
Advanced Studies
Math 401 or 405
Stat 420 or 4xx
Advanced Studies

Math 340-341 and honors: This is the very high road. A student finishing Math 340-341 in the freshman year is a year ahead and should be a very strong student. An A student in 340-341 should be quite ready for Math 410. We hope a good number of these students go into Math 410-411 in the sophomore year. Then the student will have a lot of freedom, and the potential for extremely strong credentials in applying to graduate school.
Below is one example (among a great many). The key is 410-411 in the sophomore year.

Applied Math Track

YearFallSpring
Freshman Math 140
CMSC106 or 131
Engl 101
HL
Math 141
HA
HL/HA/HO
Lab Science
Sophomore Math 240
Math 241
Supporting sequence I
SH
Math 246
Math 310
Supporting sequence II
Non-lab Science
Junior Math 410
Math 401
Supporting sequence III
Professional Writing
Stat 410
Stat 4**
SB
SB
Senior AMSC 460/466
Math/Stat 4**
Advanced Studies
Diversity
Math/Stat 4**
Math/Sat 4**
Advanced Studies


Traditional Track (Dept. Honors)

YearFallSpring
Freshman Math 340
Cmsc 106 or 131
Engl 101
HL
Math 341
Lab Science
HA
HL/HA/HO
Sophomore Math 410
Math 463
Supporting sequence I
SH
Math 411
Math 405
Supporting sequence II
SB
Junior Math 403
Math 432 or Math 436
Supporting sequence III
SB
Math 437
AMSC 466
Non-lab Science
Diversity
Senior Math 630
Math 600
Advanced Studies
Math 631
Math 601
Advanced Studies


Sample four year plans (with GenEd): http://cmns.umd.edu/undergraduate/advising-academic-planning/academic-planning/four-year-plans/four-year-plans-gened


Course Offerings
: Most 400-level math major classes are offered every semester.   This includes

  • Every semester: MATH 310, 401, 403, 405, 406, 410, 411, 416, 456, 462, 463, and 464,
    STAT 400, 401, 430, and 410, and  AMSC 460 and 466.

Others are only offered during certain terms. The current sequencing (which we hope to keep stable) is below.

  • Fall semester: MATH402, 424, 431, 432, 436, 445, 470.
  • Spring semester: MATH 404, 420, 430, 437, 446, 475.
  • Every three semesters: Math452.

In addition, many 400-level math major courses are offered during the summer.  These usually include:

  • Summer: MATH 310, 401, 406, 410, 462, 463, and STAT 400, 401, 430.

The listings above are subject to change based on enrollment and need.  

AMSC 460/466 prerequisites: Before a student attempts AMSC 460 or 466, he/she should have completed a computer course like CMSC 106, or have obtained similar experience elsewhere. Because these AMSC courses generally use MATLAB, this is a "computational maturity" requirement, but from experience a good one.

Statistics: Employers like students with some statistics. STAT 400 (probability) can be followed by STAT 401 (statistics) and/or STAT 430 (doing statistics on data with SAS). These are particularly good upper level electives for students not headed to grad school.

Special Course Offerings: Don't forget to consider Special Course Offerings. Look for fliers describing these courses in detail.

Graduate Classes: With permission from the undergraduate office and the dean's office, talented undergraduate students may take graduate classes. The undergraduate office will usually not approve graduate classes for a student who has not progressed successfully and with fine grades through most of the major. The dean's office has at times denied a student permission to take a graduate course when the student has not made appropriate progress on CORE/GenEd requirements.

Miscellany:

  • Here are some items to consider discussing with the math professor advising you.
    • Course selection for this semester.
    • Course selection for future semesters.
    • Career Plans.
    • Undergraduate Research.
      Research Interactive Teams (RITs) can carry academic credit counting toward the upper level mathematics requirement.
    • Internships.
      See the CMNS Internships Website for more information.


Good luck!
Also, we welcome feedback, if you want to suggest additions or changes to this page, or find it helpful.