Undergraduate Information FAQ Back to the List

Math Courses for Chemistry Students

I got AP credit for Math 151 and 152; should I take Math 160s or 200/201?

It used to be the case that if you got AP credit for Math 151 and 152, then you were encouraged to take the Honors Calculus sequence, Math 160's. There is another option. If you love math and science, plan to be a science concentrator, but do not intend to be a math major, then we advise skipping the first year calculus courses and taking Math 200/201 in the first year. In collaboration with Norman Lebovitz in Mathematics we have redesigned the syllabus of Math 200/201 to include key parts of linear algebra and partial differential equations that are essential for the further study of subjects in science like quantum mechanics. (Math 203/204/205 does not cover ordinary or partial differential equations, but does now cover some linear algebra). Math 200/201 may be followed by Math 202 for a fuller introduction to complex variables and ordinary and partial differential equations, or Stat 240 for probability and statistics relevant to your physical chemistry courses. Math 202 is an accepted prerequisite to certain upper division applied-mathematics courses (Math 273 and 275 -- ordinary and partial differential equations). The option of Math 200/201 in the first year is preferred over Math 160's for prospective chemistry, biological chemistry or physics concentrators who do not intend to pursue a mathematics major. It is particularly valuable to take Math 200/201 prior to or concurrent with Physics 130's or 140's.


I am an entering student interested in Chemistry without AP credit for Math 151 and 152; what is best for me?

If you did not get Advanced Placement Credit for Math 151/152, then your most reasonable choice is to take one of the two calculus sequences, Math 150's or Math 160's. The texts used for these two sections are both fantastic. If you plan to concentrate in Math, then take the 160's sequence. If you plan to major in the sciences but not in Math, I strongly advise prospective chemistry concentrators to take Math 150's rather than 160's even if your placement score was strong for 160's. We have found in the past that the preparation in Math 150's is better than that in the 160's sequence for preparing students to use calculus for approaching science problems. The Math 160's sequence is better only for students intending to pursue a Math major, as it focuses on formal proofs rather than computation and geometrical understanding.


I plan to continue my major in Chemistry, what math courses should I take?

Continuing Chemistry majors should take Math 200/201. Its revised syllabus covers topics in linear algebra and partial differential equations that you would need to take several advanced math courses to cover if you tried to substitute a different Math sequence (For instance, Math 203/204/205 does not cover ordinary or partial differential equations). After Math 200/201, we recommend Stat 240 for probability and statistics relevant to your physical chemistry courses, or Math 202 for a fuller introduction to complex variables and ordinary and partial differential equations. Math 202 is an accepted prerequisite to certain upper division applied-mathematics courses (Math 273 and 275 -- ordinary and partial differential equations). For further information on Stat 240, contact Prof. Michael Stein. For further information on the new Math 200/201/202 as a prerequisite for upper level applied math courses contact Prof. Norman Lebovitz. For information on how the topics in these courses prepare you for junior/senior level p-chem courses, contact your Chemistry Faculty Advisor.