Math and Computer Science Advising for First-Year Students

          This page contains information for first-year students and their advisors to help with the selection of appropriate courses in mathematics and computer science. If you have questions, please contact the department chair, Erika King, or any member of the department.


There are several mathematics and computer science courses that first-year students may take, depending on their interests and background. For math courses, the first step in the placement process is for the student to take Mathematics Placement Test, which is available at

All students who intend to take Math 100 (Pre-Calculus), Math 130 (Calculus I), Math 131 (Calculus II), MATH 135 (Steps into Advanced Mathematics), or MATH 204 (Linear Algebra) during the Fall Term of this year are required to take the Mathematics Placement Test. Many entering students will have taken this test over the summer. Students not planning on taking a Math class in the Fall term can delay testing until the term immediately preceding their enrollment. No student will be allowed into Math 135, Math 131, Math 130, or Math 100 without a placement exam score.

Quick Guide to Placement and AP Scores

All Placement Test scores are out of 30.

Consult Math Faculty or Center for Teaching and Learning
MATH 100: Elementary Functions
MATH 130: Calculus I
25-30 and AP Calculus AB Test:
Students are encouraged to register for MATH 131 (Calculus II) if they have received a 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus AB Test or a 4 or 5 on the AB Subgrade on the BC Test. A student scoring 3 on either of these AP tests should consult with a member of the Mathematics Department. Students on the upper end of this range might condsider taking MATH 135 instead.
25-30 and AP Calculus BC Test:
Students are encouraged to register for MATH 135 (First Steps into Advanced Mathematics) if they have received a 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus BC Test. Another option is MATH 204 (Linear Algebra).

Note that no one can "place out" of calculus simply by taking the placement test. The placement test covers calculus prerequisites only. It does not test for any knowledge of calculus.

Computer Science

The Department offers two introductory computer science courses, CPSC 120 (Principles of Computer Science) and CPSC 124 (Introduction to Programming). CPSC 120 is directed mainly towards non-majors. For more information, see below. In addition, students who have a 4 or 5 on the AP Computer Science Exam could consider taking CPSC 220 (Computer Architecture) in the Fall or CPSC 225 (Intermediate Programming) in the Spring; they consult with the department.

Mathematics Course Descriptions

100 Elementary Functions

Designed to help students prepare for the calculus sequence, this course involves the study of basic functions: polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric. Topics covered include: a review of the real number system, equations and inequalities, graphing techniques, and applications of functions. With laboratory. Permission of instructor is required. This course does not normally count toward the major or minor in mathematics. (Fall)

Typical reading: Flanders and Price, Elementary Functions and Analytic Geometry

110 Discovering in Mathematics

A study of selected topics dealing with the nature of mathematics, this course has an emphasis on its origins and a focus on mathematics as a creative endeavor. This course does not normally count toward the major or minor in mathematics. First-term students are discouraged from taking this course. (Fall, Spring)

Typical reading: Miller, Heeren, Hornsby, Mathematical Ideas

130 Calculus I

This course offers a standard introduction to the concepts and techniques of the calculus of functions of one variable and is especially designed for students contemplating further study in mathematics. A problem-solving lab is included as an integral part of the course. Required for the major in mathematics. May be exempted with departmental approval. (Fall, Spring)

Typical reading: Larson, Hostetler, and Edwards: Calculus

131 Calculus II

This course is a continuation of the topics covered in MATH 130. A problem-solving lab is an integral part of the course. Required for the major in mathematics. (Fall, Spring)

Typical reading: Larson, Hostetler, and Edwards: Calculus

135 First Steps into Advanced Mathematics

This course emphasizes the process of mathematical reasoning, discovery, and argument. It aims to acquaint students with the nature of mathematics as a creative endeavor, as well as with the nature of mathematical methods and the phenomenon of mathematical proof, and focuses on the development of problem-solving skills. Specific topics covered vary from year to year. MATH 135 is strongly recommended as an entry course to a major or minor in mathematics; it is also appropriate for a student who has already taken calculus. (Fall, Spring)

204 Linear Algebra

This course is an introduction to the concepts and methods of linear algebra. Among the most important topics are general vector spaces and their subspaces, linear independence, spanning and basis sets, solution space for systems of linear equations, linear transformations and their matrix representations, and inner products. It is hoped that the student will develop an appreciation for the process of mathematical abstraction and the creation of a mathematical theory. Prerequisite: MATH 131. Required for the major in mathematics. (Offered annually)

Typical reading: Anton, Elementary Linear Algebra

Computer Science Course Descriptions

120 Principles of Computer Science

Designed to appeal to a diverse audience, this course examines some of the fundamental ideas of the science of computing. The exact content of the course varies with the instructor but always includes an introduction to programming and some fundamental ideas of computer science. This course is primarily directed towards non-majors in computer science, but can count towards the major and minor. It cannot be taken after completion of CPSC 124. (Fall, Spring)

124 Introduction to Programming

An introduction to the theory and practice of computer programming, the emphasis of this course is on techniques of program development, especially abstraction and encapsulation using object-oriented programming. It covers such standard topics as control structures, subroutines, objects, and arrays. Currently, Java is the programming language used in the course. This course has a required lab component. This course is required for the major or minor in computer science. There is no prerequisite. (Fall, Spring)

Additional note: Students who have previous programming experience should take CPSC 124. In addition, students with a strong math or science background should consider taking 124. Students without this background might take 120 instead. CPSC 124 is appropriate for students interested in Java programming, even if they do not intend to continue in computer science. Though it has no prerequisites, it might be inappropriate as a first course for students who are uncomfortable with computers or with abstract thinking. Such students should take CPSC 120. Email the Department Chair if you have questions.