Department of Mathematics

Van Vleck Hall, 480 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI

The BA/BS Degree


The two options within the Math Major

Students who want to graduate with a math major within L&S can choose one of two options. Option 1 is a traditional mathematics major which requires exploration of at least two classic areas of mathematics.  Option 2 allows the student to concentrate in a particular area of mathematics and its application to a particular field.  The difference in requirements between the two options is that students in option 2 can replace one of the required advanced math courses by four courses in an area of application. The four applied courses together with the six math courses in a student's option 2 package should reflect a coherent plan to explore the chosen area of application.

Course requirements in a nutshell

The general requirements for a Bachelor’s degree in the College of Letters &Science (e.g. minimum GPA or minimum number of courses in residence requirements) are posted in the Undergraduate Catalog.

The requirements specific to the Math Major are these:

Option 1 Option 2
One Linear Algebra Course: One Linear Algebra Course:
Choose from Math 340, 341, or 375 Choose from Math 320, 340, 341, or 375
Three Intermediate Courses: Three Intermediate Courses:
Three math courses numbered above 306 Three math courses numbered above 306
Advanced Courses: Advanced Courses:
Two courses from Analysis (521), Algebra (541), or Topology (551); Two courses at the 500 or 600 level
One more math course at the 500 or 600 level

Four courses in the area of application. See the list of option 2 sample packages.

Any student's option 2 package must be approved by an advisor.  Students are strongly advised to talk to an advisor before starting the option 2 math major

A suitable program for Option 2 should be a coherent plan of courses in Mathematics and the area of application. While the four courses in the area of application may include background courses, it must include courses that make significant use of mathematics. The Math courses in the option 2 major should include courses that are pertinent to these applications.

Course restrictions

In addition to these requirements there are certain combinations of courses that cannot count toward a math major (option 1 or 2), or a math certificate. These are

The Letters and Science website lists the degree requirements for the Math Major in more detail.

Graduate Courses for Undergraduate Credit

Majors who are interested in registering for a graduate course for undergraduate credit must first recieve permission from an advisor.  In general, permission will be given only if the student has already exhausted all relevent undergraduate coursework in that area.


In general, in order to avoid possible pitfalls or hidden surprises, students should meet with an advisor as soon as possible, before taking courses toward a math major or certificate.

Students are strongly recommended to take either Math 341 or Math 421 before advancing into courses numbered above 500. These form the so–called bridge courses that allow students to develop additional mathematical maturity and that put emphasis on the writing of proofs.

Approval of a program for Option 2 will be required before a significant part of the program is completed and changes in the approved program will require prior consent of the student's math advisor. The program is formally approved on the Math Major Approval Form, a copy of which is sent to the Degree Summary Office.

The list of sample programs show the types of programs that are suitable for Option 2; however, students are encouraged to develop programs that are best suited to their individual needs and interests.

UW-Madison Department of Mathematics
Van Vleck Hall
480 Lincoln Drive
Madison, Wi  53706

(608) 263-3054

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