Department/Program Description

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science offers undergraduate majors in mathematics and in computer science. We also participate in the Informatics and Modeling Certificate Program. The department's graduate programs include a PhD in mathematics and MA programs in mathematics and in computer science.

Each student's course of study is designed to provide an introduction to the basic areas of mathematics or computer science and to provide the technical tools that will be useful later in the student's career. The course of study is planned in consultation with the student's faculty advisor and the department's advisory committees, DADCOM for mathematics and CADCOM for computer science.

The department's graduate programs include a PhD program in mathematics and MA programs in mathematics and in computer science. The research emphasis at Wesleyan at the doctoral level is in pure mathematics and theoretical computer science. One of the distinctive features of our department is the close interaction between the computer science faculty and the mathematics faculty, particularly those in logic and discrete mathematics.

Graduate students at Wesleyan enjoy small classes and close interactions with faculty and fellow graduate students. Graduate students normally register for three classes a semester and are expected to attend departmental colloquia and at least one regular seminar. The number of graduate students ranges from 17 to 21, with an entering class of three to six each year. There have always been both male and female students, graduates of small colleges and large universities, and U.S. and international students, including, in recent years, students from Bulgaria, Chile, China, Germany, India, Iran, and Sri Lanka. All of the department's recent PhD recipients have obtained faculty positions. Some have subsequently moved to mathematical careers in industry and government.

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Student Learning Goals

The department has the following learning goals for mathematics majors:

  • Develop a basic understanding of, and computational facility with, major objects of mathematical and applied interest, such as functions, vector spaces, and groups.
  • Understand abstract mathematical reasoning, e.g., understand an abstract system of rules, find examples of objects that satisfy those rules, conjecture theorems from those examples, and prove those theorems.
  • Understand some mathematical applications and ways to use mathematics in practice, and be able to make connections to topics outside of the strict course content.
  • Students should be able to write about and speak about mathematics, clearly and elegantly.
Admission to the Major

Every student is welcome to major in mathematics. Students are advised to finish calculus up to MATH222 and linear algebra (either MATH221 or MATH223) before making the decision.

Major Requirements
  • A year of differential and integral calculus (typically MATH121 and MATH122)
  • MATH221 or MATH223
  • MATH222
  • An elementary knowledge of algorithms and computer programming. (Success­ful completion of either COMP112 or COMP211 satisfies this requirement.)
  • MATH261 and MATH225
  • A coherent selection of four additional electives, chosen in consultation with an advisor from the department. Any MATH course at the 200+ level can be used as an elective for the major.


  • Students who have completed a year of calculus in high school may place out of one or both of MATH121 and MATH122.
  • An AP score of 4 or 5 on the AB calculus exam indicates the student should begin in MATH122.
  • An AP score of 4 or 5 on the BC calculus exam indicates the student should consider beginning in any of MATH221, MATH222, or MATH223.
  • Students may not earn credit for both MATH221 and MATH223.
  • Students must complete either MATH228 or MATH261 by the end of their junior year.
  • With advance approval from the departmental advisory committee, mild adjustments are allowed. For example, a Wesleyan course with substantial mathematical content but that is not listed in MATH may be used toward the four-electives requirement. Please note, however, that both MATH225 and MATH261 must be taken at Wesleyan to complete the major, and substitutions for these courses will not be approved.

An undergraduate may achieve the BA with honors in mathematics via one of several routes:

  • The honors thesis, written under the supervision of a faculty member under conditions monitored by the University Committee on Honors.
  • A strong performance in a suitable sequence of courses, normally including some graduate courses, selected in consultation with a member of the department’s advisory committee. The candidate also is expected to prepare a public lecture on a topic chosen together with a faculty advisor.
  • The comprehensive examination, offered by the department and/or by visiting consultants to select students nominated by the faculty.
Language Requirement

Undergraduate majors in mathematics are encouraged to study languages while at Wesleyan; majors who are considering graduate study in mathematics should note that graduate programs often require a reading knowledge of French, German, and/or Russian.

Additional Information

Colloquia, Seminars, and Math Club

Lectures. The departmental colloquium series presents lectures on recent research by invited speakers from other institutions. Advanced undergraduates are welcome and encouraged to attend these colloquia and to participate in graduate seminars. All students interested in mathematics are invited to attend the annual Coven-Wood Lecture Series in Mathematics. The first talk in the series is accessible to students at all levels. The undergraduate Math Club hosts informal talks in mathematics and other mathematical activities.