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A 2 + 2 Plan Leading to a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics


All degree requirements are subject to the provisions and notices in the NIU Undergraduate Catalog.  Information is valid through August 2014.


B.S. Degree in Mathematics

The Department of Mathematical Sciences at Northern Illinois University offers programs leading to the Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. These programs prepare students with diverse career goals and develop unique strengths and talents that are valuable in an increasingly technical world.

In a world in which mathematics is the "invisible culture," a mathematics degree prepares students to be innovative and imaginative in complex situations. A mathematics degree demonstrates many obvious career skills: attention to detail, comfort with numbers and computation, and a familiarity with standard mathematical models. Less obvious are the skills that develop during the study of higher mathematics. The study of mathematics develops rigorous, logical thinking; appreciation and familiarity with complex structures and algorithms; and the ability to learn technical, detailed, or abstract material. This ability to learn is valuable. Most technical material has a structured, logical basis, and the study of mathematics enables a student to recognize and synthesize such material.

There are nearly 300 mathematics majors at NIU, and they reflect the diversity of the northern Illinois region. Approximately 50 percent of the mathematics majors are women, and there are many women on the faculty. Students will find an inviting and accommodating learning environment within the department, and we have had great success accommodating students with differing abilities.

The department offers a well structured, yet versatile program of studies, and a student may pursue the degree in any of six emphases. The emphases all share a unique mixture of theory and application. During the first two years of the program, all students will investigate calculus and its applications, linear algebra, basic statistics, and the fundamentals of mathematical modeling. Additionally, all mathematics students will learn a scientific computing language and will become familiar with computation devices.

More specialized studies are pursued in the last two years of the program, within one of the six emphases:

  1. The general mathematics emphasis offers the broadest and most theoretical program of study. It is often an appropriate choice for students who wish to pursue graduate degrees or attend professional school.
  2. The applied mathematics emphasis offers a course of study that focuses on the application of mathematics to real-world problems. This is an appropriate choice for students interested in problems arising from industry or engineering, and prepares them for many technical fields.
  3. In the computational mathematics emphasis, students investigate the nature of computation, and the methods used to compute mathematical quantities accurately and efficiently. Such skills are increasingly valuable in a world that uses computers heavily, and career prospects in this emphasis are enhanced by a facility with computers.
  4. The emphasis in probability and statistics investigates the use and theory of probabilistic and statistical methods. Students within this emphasis use statistical computer packages common in industry and business. This emphasis develops skills that are of value to industry, finance and insurance, and high tech fields.
  5. The emphasis in mathematics education prepares math teachers for the secondary schools. Students in this emphasis earn both a mathematics degree and Illinois State Certification to teach in secondary schools.
  6. Students with the emphasis in actuarial sciences would typically enter the actuarial profession upon graduation.  The rigorous curriculum carefully combines foundational training with all the learning objectives of the first three examinations of the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society.

It is important to realize that a mathematics degree offers great flexibility in the job market. Information on employment practices and placement of graduates may be received from the university's Career Planning and Placement Center and from the Mathematical Association of America's web page at

Mathematical Sciences Faculty

Mathematics classes at Northern Illinois University are taught by a diverse faculty with a wide variety of life experiences and interests. Our professors hold doctoral degrees in mathematics and are fully appreciative of the dual teaching/research role of a university. Northern Illinois University is home to recognized mathematical researchers and some of the best mathematics teachers in the state. The department values its excellent reputation for quality teaching and is proud of its many award-winning teachers. Quality teaching is important at Northern Illinois University and is a common bond among an exceptionally collegial faculty. Professors within the department are accessible and schedule regular times to meet with students. All classes required by mathematics majors are taught in small sections by professors. Also, there are opportunities to pursue internships, and to interact with faculty on research projects.

The Mathematics Education Program

The Bachelor of Science degree with the emphasis in mathematics education is a strong teaching credential. Northern Illinois University has a long history of preparing top quality teachers, and the Department of Mathematical Sciences is committed to the development of the best mathematics teachers in the state. The teacher certification program prepares teachers to teach the full spectrum of high school mathematics, including advanced placement courses. The department has professors whose area of specialty and research is mathematics education. These faculty complete the training of mathematics education majors by teaching them a wide variety of methods of mathematical instruction.

Students in the mathematics education emphasis work closely with advisers within the department. The advising system for mathematics education students is a particular strength of the department, and is a feature about which our students are universally enthusiastic.

Mathematics education students at Northern Illinois University student-teach in some of the most desirable school districts, and our graduates teach in many of the schools in suburban Chicago, the collar counties, and throughout northern Illinois.

Transferring to NIU

The Department of Mathematical Sciences welcomes transfer students from Illinois community colleges. These students will find it easy to continue their studies at NIU if they plan well. In particular, a three-semester calculus sequence should be completed in the first two years of study. A linear algebra course should be taken soon after the completion of the calculus sequence. Students at community colleges that do not have a linear algebra course that articulates as MATH 240 may wish to take a differential equations course instead.

A sample program of study is given on the back page of this pamphlet. However, it is important that students regularly see an adviser. Students should consult the Articulation Tables, or the Illinois Articulation Initiative, available at community college counseling offices, to determine which specific courses at their community college fulfill NIU requirements. In particular, close attention should be paid to the articulation status of computer science courses (CSCI 230/240 at NIU) and that of linear algebra courses (MATH 240 at NIU).

It is particularly important that students interested in mathematics education regularly see an adviser, and that close attention be paid to the choices of general education courses.

Suggested Semester Plans

Fall Spring
ENGL 103 3 ENGL 104 3
MATH 2291 4 MATH 230 4
Humanities Gen Ed 3 Soc. Science Gen Ed 3
Soc. Science Gen Ed 3 Humanities Gen Ed 3
Science Gen Ed     3-4 Science Gen Ed     3-4
16-17 16-17
COMS 100 3 MATH 240 4
MATH 232 3 Minor Req. or Elec. 3-4
Minor Req. or Elective2 3-4 Interdisciplinary Gen Ed 3
CSCI 230/2403 4 Science Gen Ed 3
Humanities Gen Ed        3 Other Gen Ed        3
16-17 16-17
MATH 360 3 MATH/STAT 300/4004 3-4
STAT 350 3 MATH/STAT 300/400 3-4
Minor Req. or 300/400 El 3-4 Minor Req. or 300/400 El 3
Electives (any level)     6-7 Electives 300/400 level        6
15-17   15-18
MATH 430 3 MATH/STAT 300/400 3-4
MATH/STAT 300/400 3-4 MATH/STAT 300/400 3
Electives 300/400 6-7 Electives 300/400 3
Electives (any level)        3 Electives (any level)     6-7
15-17 15-17

1 Prerequisite is satisfactory performance on the Mathematics Placement Examination or MATH 155. The major grade point average is calculated using only mathematical sciences courses numbered MATH 229 or above that are available for credit toward the major.

2 A departmentally approved minor is required for emphasis 2, applied mathematics, and is strongly recommended for emphasis 5, mathematics education. Students in emphasis 5 must fulfill state requirements for teacher certification; all students interested in pursuing teacher certification should consult with the discipline coordinator in mathematical sciences for assistance in planning schedules.

3 Students in all emphases must elect one of the computer programming courses.

4 The specific 300/400-level requirements vary depending on the emphasis. See the Undergraduate Catalog and your departmental adviser for specific requirements.

Minimum 120 total; 40 at the 300-400 level


For More Information:

Department of Mathematical Sciences
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115-2888
(815)753-1112 fax


For a current NIU Undergraduate Catalog and application materials, contact:

Office of Admissions
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115-­2857
(800) 892­-3050 toll-free in Illinois)
or (815) 753-­0446


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