Mathematics
Overview
Mathematics, encompassing several of the original liberal arts, is valued for its exquisite intellectual beauty and its timeless exploration of all things spatial, quantitative and patterned through the lens of rigorous abstraction. As a vibrant modern science, it possesses an unparalleled analytical power for describing, detailing and deriving insight into numerous physical, biological, technological, economic and societal aspects of the world we all live in. The Mathematics department is committed to engaging a diverse range of students in the active study and creative application of the principles, ideas, and methods that characterize mathematics and the mathematical sciences, and offering preparation toward a wide variety of careers and educational pursuits.
Upon graduation, some mathematics majors go on to graduate or professional school while others begin careers in teaching, business, industry, or government. The major can be structured to provide a solid foundation in the mathematical sciencespure and applied mathematics, statistics, and operations researchand fields close to mathematics like computer science, actuarial science, and engineering. A major or minor in mathematics can also provide an excellent technical and theoretical complement to a major or minor in other fields.
Major Requirements
COURSEWORK
The minimum requirements for the major outlined below allow a student great flexibility in designing a course of study to meet their own intellectual and career goals.
Fundamental courses
Calculus 1  4 units 

Calculus 2  4 units 

MATH 210  Discrete Mathematics  4 units 
MATH 212  Multivariable Calculus  4 units 
MATH 214  Linear Algebra  4 units 
Any student who places out of a Calculus 1 or Calculus 2 class satisfies the corresponding requirement for the Math Major.
Students must receive a grade of C or above in each of MATH 210, MATH 212, and MATH 214 in order to graduate with a Mathematics major. If a student does not receive a grade of C or higher, the department chair will support a Petition for Special Consideration requesting to repeat the course. Only the most recent grade will count towards satisfying the 200level requirement.
At least two of the required 200level Mathematics courses (MATH 210, MATH 212 and MATH 214) must be taken at Occidental College except by approval of the chair. Exceptions must be filed by submitting a Petition for Special Consideration.
Advanced Courses
Students must have 24 units of Mathematics courses numbered 310 or above (excluding MATH 400).
Colloquium Requirement
MATH 300  Junior Colloquium  2 units 
MATH 400  Senior Colloquium  2 units 
Breadth requirement
Students must take one course from the following approved list of courses (students can petition the department to have a course not on the list count for the breadth requirement):
CHEM 355  Bioinformatics  2 units 
COMP 131  Fundamentals of Computer Science  4 units 
COMP 229  Data Structures  4 units 
COMP 347  Machine Learning  4 units 
ECON 272  Applied Econometrics  4 units 
ECON 305  Game Theory  4 units 
ECON 306  Advanced Econometrics  4 units 
PHIL 350/MATH 350  Metalogic  4 units 
PHYS 110  Introductory Mechanics  4 units 
PHYS 115  General Physics I  4 units 
PHYS 117  Waves and Thermal Physics  4 units 
PHYS 230  Introductory Electricity and Magnetism  4 units 
PHYS 240  Modern Physics  4 units 
PHYS 261  Simulations in Physics  4 units 
PHYS 310  Mathematical Methods in Physics  4 units 
PHYS 320  Analytical Dynamics  4 units 
PHYS 350  Statistical Physics  4 units 
PHYS 361  Computational Physics  4 units 
PHYS 367  Mathematical Methods in Physics II  4 units 
The Mathematics department has prepared guidelines for majors considering future study or careers in pure and applied mathematics, education, actuarial science, and computer science. These guidelines are available in the Students section on our website.
SecondStage Writing Requirement
Students majoring in Mathematics should familiarize themselves with this requirement at the time of declaring the major. The SecondStage Writing Requirement is addressed in MATH 300. Students not taking MATH 300 (e.g., study abroad students) may petition to satisfy the writing requirement at a different time.Comprehensive Requirement
The comprehensive requirement in Mathematics has two parts. The first part measures competence in the five fundamental courses and is typically handled during MATH 300: Junior Colloquium. During MATH 300 students take five exams, one in each of the fundamental areas; a passing score on each exam is a 12 (or higher) out of 20. Passing all five exams is required to pass the comprehensive requirement.
The second part requires successful completion for a letter grade of four units in:
MATH 395 (Special Topics in Advanced Mathematics)
MATH 400 (Senior Seminar)
MATH 497 (Independent Study)
MATH 499 (Honors Senior Seminar)
A student wishing to complete the senior comprehensive requirements through MATH 497 or MATH 499 must find a faculty member in the Mathematics Department willing to supervise the independent study/honors thesis.
A student who successfully completes four units from the courses numbered MATH 395, MATH 400, MATH 497 and MATH 499, and who receives a passing score on each of the five exams associated with MATH 300 will receive at least a grade of P in comprehensive requirements.
To pass the comprehensive requirements with distinction (receive a grade of PD), in addition to meeting the requirements for a grade of P, a student must pass all five exams on their first try, have at least an 80% overall average on the five exams, and receive at least an A in one of the courses listed above.
Further information is available from the department.
Honors
Students who wish to be considered for honors in Mathematics should have completed all five fundamental courses in their first five semesters at the College, have a grade point average of at least at a 3.5 in their MATH courses at the end of their third year, and pass all five Comprehensive Exams on their first attempt. Honors students must also complete three approved upperdivision courses beyond those required for the major by the end of their senior year (for a total of 36 units). Honors students must obtain signed approval from a mentor by the end of the junior year, and should enroll in MATH 499 for the fall semester of senior year. For Honors students, MATH 499 is substituted for MATH 400 in satisfying the major requirements. To receive honors, a student must write a paper as well as give a talk to the department on the topic of the paper. The paper, which typically will be 20 pages long, is graded by the mentor along with a second reader; the entire department evaluates the talk, which is typically at least 30 minutes long. The paper and talk must both be completed no later than April 1 of the Honors candidate's senior year. Consult the Mathematics Department for additional details.
Minor Requirements
The minor in Mathematics requires at least 20 units of Mathematics courses numbered 150 or above, taken at Occidental or through college transfer credit. Students must take at least one 4unit course at the 300 level. Students are required to take at least 8 of the 20 units at Occidental College.
COURSEWORK
Students must select at least three courses from the list below:
MATH 150  Statistical Data Analysis  4 units 
MATH 210  Discrete Mathematics  4 units 
MATH 212  Multivariable Calculus  4 units 
MATH 214  Linear Algebra  4 units 
Mathematics Placement
Calculus
Placement in calculus courses (MATH 108, MATH 110, MATH 114, or MATH 128) is determined based on previous mathematical experience, advising, and the results of the Calculus Placement Exam. The Calculus Placement Exam is administered online prior to the beginning of Fall Semester.
Students with qualifying scores on the Advanced Placement or IB Examination in Calculus are most often placed in calculus courses as follows:
Calculus AP Exam Score  Which Math course to take 
BC 4 or 5  MATH 150, MATH 210, MATH 212, or MATH 214. 
AB 4 or 5 
MATH 120 or MATH 128 (after consultation with Math Dept) 
AB or BC 3 or less 
Take Calculus Placement Exam 
IB Exam Score 
Which Math course to take* 
IB HL 6 or 7  MATH 150, MATH 210, MATH 212, or MATH 214 
IB HL 5  MATH 114 or MATH 120 or MATH 128 
IB HL 4  MATH 110 or MATH 114 
IB HL 3 or less  Take Calculus Placement Exam 
IB SL (any score) 
Take Calculus Placement Exam 
In addition to the calculus courses, MATH 105, MATH 150, MATH 160, MATH 210, MATH 212, MATH 214, COMP 131, and COMP 146 may be taken by firstyear students meeting the prerequisites.
Students with transfer credits should confer with the Department for advice on placement in an appropriate mathematics course.
*Students with IB Exam scores will be required to contact the instructor of the course for prerequisite override in order to register.
Mathematics Courses
Calculus is a prerequisite for all mathematics courses with the exceptions of MATH 105 and most Computer Science courses. All students planning to take Calculus must take the online Calculus Placement Exam prior to the beginning of the Fall Semester unless they are exempt due to having received an Advanced Placement exam score. (See Calculus Placement above or contact the Mathematics Department for further details.) Prerequisites for any course may be waived with permission of the instructor.
Transfer Credit Policies
The Mathematics Department may accept online courses in transfer, both as general elective credit and as credit toward the major or minor.
Students who earned a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus AB examination will earn four units of credit and will be considered to have completed the equivalent of MATH 110 (Calculus 1). Students who earned a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus BC examination will earn four units of credit and will be considered to have completed the equivalent of MATH 120 (Calculus 2). Students who earned a score of 6 or 7 on the (higher level) IB examination or a grade of A or B on the Alevel examination will earn four units of credit and will be considered to have completed the equivalent of both MATH 110 (Calculus 1) and MATH 120 (Calculus 2).
Students matriculating as frosh must take at least two of the required 200level Mathematics courses (MATH 210, MATH 212 and MATH 214) at Occidental College except by approval of the chair.
Students transferring from another institution may transfer the 200level Mathematics sequence (MATH 210, MATH 212, MATH 214) with approval from the department chair.
A student may apply no more than eight units of 300level credit in transfer toward the major, except by permission of the chair.
Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for more details.