[NIU logo] NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences
Bachelors degrees in Mathematical Sciences at NIU

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 which are valuable in an increasingly technical society.

A Mathematical Sciences degree prepares students to be innovative and imaginative in complex situations --- ready for a world of challenges. 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 which develop during the study of higher mathematics. The student develops rigorous, logical thinking, problem-solving skills, appreciation of and familiarity with complex structures and algorithms, and the ability to learn technical, detailed, or abstract material.

If you would like more information about potential applications of your mathematics degree in the job market, contact an advisor in the Department, the University's Career Counseling Office, or professional societies such as the Mathematical Association of America. The MAA web site highlights varied career stories of math students; see http://www.maa.org/students/career.html

Planning Your Program

A sample four-year program of courses is attached. Note that a typical mathematics major entering from high school can begin with Calculus courses and complete the Bachelor of Science degree in four years. Students with stronger or weaker backgrounds are also welcome to pursue the degree. In all cases, students should consult an advisor regularly to ensure the degree can be completed as efficiently and productively as possible. [Students at work]

You should obtain an Undergraduate Catalogue and retain it until graduation; it contains the statement of all program requirements and a description of each course offered through the Department.

For more information, please contact an advisor in the Department. Your initial advisor is

Programs of Study

Students may select any of the six emphases within the Department best suited to their interests and career goals. The emphases all share a unique mixture of theory and application.

During the first two years of the program, all students will investigate the 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 become familiar with current computing technology. These courses introduce students to the mathematical tools used in scientific applications, to technical communication, and to the methods of mathematical reasoning. Students considering another science or engineering major will also find these courses helpful whether they select a different major, a double major with mathematics, or a mathematics minor.

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

For complete requirements consult the Undergraduate Catalogue.

Special Attractions of the NIU Mathematics Program

All classes required by majors are taught in small sections by our faculty. This includes the first courses in Calculus. In fact, our approach is almost unique among large universities, where calculus may be taught in classes of over one hundred or be taught by teaching assistants. Since the Calculus sequence represents a year and a half of work, and forms the cornerstone of further mathematical study, our approach is an extremely valuable offering to students. Most mathematics majors will never have a math class with more than twenty-five students, and will take most of their courses with our regular faculty.

Reflecting the dual teaching/research role of a major 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 the large number of award-winning teachers within the Department. Many of these teachers bring topics from their current research into the classroom. Our faculty members are accessible to students at regular scheduled hours and by appointment.

The Department also has its own Honors program, to recognize students who excel in their studies. In addition, we offer Master's and Doctoral degrees, for which our own undergraduates are very well prepared. Even students not pursuing graduate work benefit from increased course offerings and interaction with advanced students.

There are plenty of opportunities for students beyond classwork, too. Some students may assist faculty with research projects or apply for internships. Some compete in local and national mathematics competitions. There is an active Math Club hosting talks about career options, tours of local labs, math movies, and fellowship with other majors. (There are nearly three hundred mathematics majors. About half are women; many are minorities.)

The Mathematics Education Program

[Students at work]

The Mathematics degree with the emphasis in Mathematics Education from Northern Illinois University is a strong teaching credential. NIU 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 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, who teach a wide variety of methods of mathematical instruction and the theory behind these methods; most have also had public school teaching experience.

Students in the Mathematics Education emphasis work closely with advisors within the Department. This is a particular strength of the Department, about which our Mathematics Education students are universally enthusiastic.

Mathematics Education majors at NIU student-teach in some of Illinois' best school districts, and our graduates teach in many of the middle and high schools in the suburbs of Chicago, the collar counties, and throughout Northern Illinois.

If you are considering being a secondary-school mathematics teacher, you should read more detailed information about the teacher preparation programs in our department.

Sample Four-Year Plans

Here, We provide you with sample four-year plans for general emphasis, applied mathematics emphasis, computational mathematics emphasis, and mathematical education emphasis,

Common Mathematics Courses

M229 Calculus IM430 Advanced Calculus I
M230 Calculus IIM431 Advanced Calculus II
M232 Calculus IIIM434 Numerical Linear Algebra
M240 Linear AlgebraM435 Numerical Analysis
M439 Applied Mathematics
M336 Ordinary Differential EquationsM440 Complex Analysis
M353 Axiomatic GeometryM442 Partial Differential Equations
M360 Mathematical ModelingM444 Linear Programming
M380 CombinatoricsM450 Topology
M456 Linear Geometry
M460 Modeling Dynamical Systems
M401 Secondary School Clinical ExperienceM480 Number Theory
M410 Methods of Middle School Instruction
M412 Methods of High School Instruction
M413 Student Teaching
M416 Topics in Mathematics for Teachers
M420 Abstract Algebra I
M421 Abstract Algebra II
M423 Linear and Multilinear Algebra

Offsite Career information:

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Last modified: 09/30/2015 (djg)