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FAQs for Current Students

General

A: The standard entry point into the math courses at Vanderbilt is calculus. Information about choosing a calculus course or preparing to take a calculus course can be found on our Calculus Preparation and Placement page. Outside of class we have an active, welcoming Math Club and offer Undergraduate Seminars that are accessible to students taking calculus. If you are interested in researching math-related careers, you can start here.

Registration

A: Generally, you should let the waitlist process work itself out. The Department of Mathematics’ policy is to try not to slow down students’ progress. We do not want to prevent you from enrolling in math courses that are prerequisites for other (math or non-math) courses because of an enrollment limit. We will therefore routinely enroll students beyond the limit in such courses. Because we teach a large number of students over a large number of sections, we want to make the process as equitable as possible, so individual instructors do NOT have the ability to enroll you in a closed class. To request being added to a closed class, you will need to see the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies in person. They will do the best they can to find a section that fits in your academic schedule (they cannot schedule around work or personal schedules). However, they may not be able to accommodate time or instructor preferences.

A: Only the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies can override prerequisites. Instructors CANNOT override prerequisites. In order to be consistent, the only situation in which prerequisites will be overridden is when you have taken an equivalent course at an accredited college that offers a bachelor’s degree in math, but were not able to transfer the course to Vanderbilt.

A: The standard entry point into the math courses at Vanderbilt is calculus. Information about choosing a calculus course or preparing to take a calculus course can be found on our Calculus Preparation and Placement page. We also offer an algebra-based probability and statistics sequence (Math 1010 and 1011) and first-year writing seminars (Math 1111).

A: Our general advice is to take the next math course for which you satisfy the prerequisites. If your course was not eligible for transfer credit, we recommend you repeat your high school course at Vanderbilt. Math 2300 is the standard multivariate calculus course and Math 2600 would be an appropriate linear algebra course. Another option for eligible students would be Math 2500. See the Calculus Preparation and Placement page for more details.

A: Math 1200-1201 is intended to be a terminal, one-year calculus sequence. Students who decide to take more math after completing Math 1201 should enroll in Math 1301 in preparation to take Math 2300. Due to the duplication of material in 1201 and 1301, only three credit hours will be earned for Math 1301. You will need to contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies in order to register for Math 1301 due to the duplication of credit.

A: Math 1100 is intended to be a terminal, one-semester calculus course. Students who decide to take one more semester of calculus after completing Math 1100, should enroll in Math 1201. Students who decide to take more than one more semester of calculus, should enroll in Math 1300. In both cases there will be a loss of credit as outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog and you will need to contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies in order to register due to the duplication of credit.

A: In order to enroll in a math course after the end of the Open Enrollment Period (the first 8 calendar days of the semester), you will need to bring a Drop/Add form to the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies in person during the second week of courses. In order to be consistent, only changes in the level of a course will be approved. For example, moving from Math 1301 to either Math 1300 or Math 2300. Changing between sections of the same course or adding a new course will not be permitted.

A: You will need to identify the faculty member you would like to work with and contact them to discuss the project you are interested in. If you would like to receive credit for the independent study, you will need to fill out an Independent Study form that includes a paragraph describing the project and the number of credit hours requested (1-3). Then bring the completed form to the Director of Undergraduate Studies before the end of the Open Enrollment Period. The request will only be approved if you have completed at least four math courses numbered 2800 or above. As a rule of thumb, you should plan on spending four hours per week (including meeting with your faculty mentor) per credit hour.

Math Courses

A: For help with specific questions about course content, you should attend instructor and/or TA office hours. The Department of Mathematics provides tutored study halls for calculus courses four afternoons per week, there are evening study halls five evenings per week for all courses at the level of differential equations or below, Tutoring Services offers free tutoring by appointment for select courses, and there is a list of paid tutors available in the Math Office.

A: The Department of Mathematics participates in the Credit By Examination policy outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog. The exams are actual final exams, so the exams are available during the final exam period in courses that offer comprehensive, in-class final exams with instructor approval. At least one month before the final exam, you should obtain a Credit-By-Exam form from the Office of Academic Services in your home school and bring it to the Director of Undergraduate Studies to determine if an exam is available, pay the associated fees, and bring the form back to the Director of Undergraduate Studies to find out when the exam is offered. After you take the exam and the exam has been graded, the Director of Undergraduate Studies will contact you. You will then come to the Math Office and either accept the grade received or turn down the credit.

Math Major

A: College of Arts and Science students must wait until their sophomore year to declare a major. The choice of a major should be based on subjects you both enjoy and are reasonably good at. In order to determine if math is an appropriate major for you, you should wait until you have taken a few math courses before declaring a math major. Also, since the Department of Mathematics lets math majors choose their advisor from among the permanent faculty, taking some math courses before declaring a math major will expose you to a variety of faculty whom you might ask to be your advisor. If you have any questions or need advice in the meantime, you should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies.

A: First, decide which math major track you would like to declare (Standard, Applied, or Honors). Next fill out a Declaration-of-Major form (including the track) and approach a faculty member to be your advisor. If the faculty member agrees, have them sign the form and submit it as described on the back of the form.

A: The Math Department has an active actuarial program. The course entry point in the Math Department is Math 3650, which has a corequisite of Math 2810/2820. You should also research Verification by Educational Experience requirements of the SOA/CAS and see which Vanderbilt courses have been approved to satisfy those requirements. In addition, you should consider joining the Actuarial Science Club. If you would like to learn more about the actuarial profession, start here.

A: There are some standard Chemistry and Economics courses that routinely are approved and listed here. For other courses, you should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies for pre-approval before you take the courses. Generally, courses need to have non-trivial math prerequisites to obtain approval. After completing both courses, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies so that the requirement can be marked as satisfied.

A: The Honors Track math major was designed with graduate school preparation in mind. You don’t have to declare an Honors Track math major in order to go to graduate school, but it is a good outline for course selection. To get an idea of the level of courses in graduate school, you should consider taking a course or two at the 4000-level.
If you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in math, but got a late start or had a rocky start, you may consider the 4+1 program.

A: Before the beginning of each semester, a link to the TA application is sent to the Vanderbilt email addresses of all declared math majors. Simply fill out the application completely and submit it by the deadline indicated in the email to receive full consideration.

A: Many REUs receive financial support from the National Science Foundation. Only US citizens and permanent residents are eligible to receive financial support from these programs. Other students may be eligible to attend these REUs without financial support or should investigate other funding sources or REUs outside the US. For information about REUs, see Extracurricular Opportunities.

4+1 Program

A: The 4+1 program allows you to complete a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in five years by beginning to take graduate courses during your senior (fourth) year. For more information, see 4 + 1 B.A. + M.A. Program.

A: You are a good candidate for the program if:
– You want a master’s degree to get a job in industry or teach at the high school level,
– You want to pursue a Ph.D. in math, but got a late or rocky start, or
– You want to establish a solid mathematical foundation to pursue a Ph.D. in another technical field.

A: During your junior year.

A: Application information for the 4+1 program can be found here.

Transfer Credit

A: Contact the Office of Academic Services in your home school and visit the Academic Regulations Transfer Credit page.

A: No. The department strives to limit enrollment in its courses to encourage interaction between students and instructors and among students because we believe math is best learned in an active environment. We do not believe online courses provide the active environment most conducive to presenting and learning math.