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BA.MATH - Mathematics

Mike Johnson (department head)

The department offers two majors: mathematics and mathematics/statistics.

Mathematics is the study of numbers, measurements, patterns, shapes, equations, relations, functions, change, symmetry, structure, sets and operations; the modeling of physical phenomena to better understand and predict nature; the development of theorems from accepted axioms through logical proof. It is abstract and applied, theoretical and experimental. Mathematics is perhaps the oldest academic discipline, yet mathematics is the primary language and theoretical foundation of modern technology. It is an extremely versatile major. Mathematics majors are encouraged to explore applications of mathematics in other disciplines, and it is a popular second major for students pursuing advanced degrees.

Statistics is the science of reasoning from uncertain empirical data. Statisticians build mathematical models to solve problems in business, the natural sciences and the social sciences. The intent of the mathematics/statistics major is to provide adequate preparation to attend graduate school in statistics or to pursue a career such as actuary, data scientist, statistical analyst, etc.

Requirements for majors:

Mathematics major. MATH 220, MATH 240, and MATH 253; CS 150 or CS 160; MATH 215, MATH 322, or MATH 327; with a minimum of eight courses (32 credits) in mathematics numbered 200 or above, including at least three courses (12 credits) in mathematics numbered 300 or above. Writing requirement completed with MATH 220 or MATH 240. (No more than two of MATH 215, MATH 271, MATH 322, MATH 327, MATH 328 can count toward the mathematics major.)

Mathematics/Statistics major. MATH 220, MATH 240, and MATH 253; CS 150 or CS 160; MATH 215 or 271, MATH 322, MATH 327, and MATH 328; MATH 454 or DS 320. Writing requirement completed with MATH 220 or MATH 240. (A student may not major in both mathematics and mathematics/statistics.)

Mathematics minor. At least five courses (20 credits) in mathematics, including MATH 220, MATH 240 and three additional courses, of which two are numbered 200 or above.

Suggested electives for majors planning careers in the following areas:

  • Graduate study in mathematics: MATH 351, MATH 454, MATH 456, MATH 471, MATH 472.

  • Graduate study in statistics: A mathematics/statistics major with both MATH 454 and DS 320. Consider additional courses in computer science, data science, or a science discipline.

  • Secondary education: MATH 360, MATH 365, MATH 471. See education department for secondary education minor requirements.

  • Actuarial science: A mathematics/statistics major, ECON 247, ECON 248, MGT 353, MGT 365, and more courses in computer science or data science.

  • Computer or data science: MATH 327, MATH 328, MATH 360, MATH 361, MATH 471.

  • Management (accounting, economics): MATH 327, MATH 454.

  • Science: MATH 327, MATH 328, MATH 351, MATH 452, MATH 453, MATH 454, MATH 456.

  • Applied statistics:  A mathematics/statistics major with DS 320 and other courses in computer science and data science.

NOTE: Students should not enroll in any math course if they earned below a C- in a prerequisite course.

First-Year Placement

The mathematics department placement procedure uses high school records, declared programs of interest, scores on outside standardized tests, and a placement test as a basis for a recommendation.

We have two main introductory courses in statistical methods. MATH 115: Introduction to Statistics is designed for students who do not plan on taking calculus, and MATH 215: Data Analysis is designed for students who have already completed Calculus 1 (MATH 150 or higher)

There are multiple courses available for students planning to take calculus.Students with strong algebra and precalculus skills should begin with the course MATH 150: Calculus in Context.  Students who have taken some calculus, but feel they would benefit from encountering the material again are welcome. Students who need calculus for their major but also need a review of algebra and precalculus should start in MATH 140: Limits and Derivatives. Students whose math placement suggests they require more in-depth review of algebra should consider completing MATH 100 before registering for MATH 140. Students who have completed a year of calculus in high school and perform well on the Advanced Placement AB Exam or the calculus portion of the mathematics placement test should start in MATH 152: Calculus II or MATH 215. Students who perform well on the Advanced Placement BC Exam should start in MATH 215, MATH 220 or MATH 240.

Advanced Placement Credit

  • A student will receive credit for MATH 150 with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus A/B Exam. A student will receive credit for MATH 150 and MATH 152 with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus B/C Exam. A student will receive credit for MATH 150 with an IB Mathematics HL score of 4-7.

  • A student who places into MATH 152 will receive, upon completion of the course with a grade of C or better, Luther College credit for the preceding calculus course, MATH 150 (if credit has not already been awarded through AP or transfer credit).

  • A student who places into MATH 240 may petition the head of the mathematics department, upon completion of the course with a grade of C or better, to receive Luther College credit for the preceding calculus course(s) MATH 150 and/or MATH 152 (if credit has not already been awarded through AP or transfer credit). Approval of the petition will depend upon whether the student has previously covered the full content of Calculus I and/or II.

  • A student who achieves a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Statistics Exam will receive credit for MATH 115.

NOTE: AP credit for MATH 115 or MATH 150 satisfies the all-college requirement for Data Literacy (DTA-L).