NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences
General Education Courses
All students must fulfill a Core Competency requirement
in the mathematical sciences in order to graduate with a Bachelor's
degree from Northern Illinois University |
Every semester a number of unfortunate students must
delay their graduation simply because they left this requirement until their
final year, and something went wrong.
Don't let this happen to you! |
In this document we summarize
- the goals of Core Competency in Mathematics,
- how these goals are met in specific courses,
- the university's graduation requirements involving these mathematics courses.
Note that General Education at NIU includes two components: Core
Competency and Distributive Studies. There are Core Competency requirements
in English, Communications, and Mathematics. There are Distributive
Studies requirements in four broad areas, one of which (Science
and Mathematics) includes two courses from this department as options:
MATH 229 and STAT 208. So in this document we also discuss
4. Distributive Studies courses in the department.
More information is available in other web pages for
individual courses and
for sources of
assistance
for students in math courses. Students who intend to fulfill
the NIU Core Competency requirement with coursework transferred from
another institution are encouraged to read the web pages about
transfer credits.
A recent study found that half of all college graduates lack the
critical-thinking skills needed for life in today's complex America:
Without "proficient" skills, or those needed to perform more complex
tasks, students fall behind. They cannot interpret a table about
exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper
editorials, compare credit-card offers with different interest rates
and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental
involvement in school.
The Core Competency program at NIU is designed to address this
problem by developing students' skills in written and spoken
communication and in quantitative literacy.
The following is a literal extract of a 1984 document which outlines what
minimal
mathematics competencies which the NIU General Education Committee expects
graduates of this university to have. (This document was re-affirmed by that
committee in April 2001.)
Core Competency is defined to mean strength in four broad
mathematical areas:
1. Elementary Skills and Facts
Percents, ratio, decimals, and proportion. Different units of
measurement. Elementary geometric ideas (square, circle, angle,
parallelism and perpendicularity...). Equations and their solutions,
particularly linear and quadratic. Systems of equations. Elementary
inequalities. Graphing data (pie charts, histograms...). Means and
average rate of change. Elementary counting principles, combinatorics
and probability. Basic statistical notions -- mean, median, mode,
standard deviation, and the normal curve.
2. Logical statements and Arguments.
Conditional statements, Inverse, converse, and contrapositive. Valid
arguments. Logical fallacies.
3. Abstract thinking.
Spatial relationships (for example, figures formed by distance
relationships -- circles, ellipses, ...). Estimation, approximation,
judging the reasonableness of results. Geometric interpretation of
problems (for example, a pair of equations in two variables represents
a parit of lines, and the solution of the system is the point where
the lines intersect). The notion of function. Sequential thinking and
the formulation of algorithms.
4. Problem Solving.
The ability to state a problem clearly and concisely in the English
language. How to formulate a problem in mathematical terms, solve it
mathematically and interpret the solution in the original context.
These four areas are by no means independent. To analyze and solve
a problem demands the technical skills in (1), the ability to think
through the problem in (3), the formulation of a logically correct
argument in (2) and, pre-eminently, the problem solving ability in (4).
More information is available on each course. Consult the
Course Information Page
MATH 101. CORE COMPETENCY IN MATHEMATICS (3). Mastery of elementary
skills and facts, understanding of logically correct arguments, abstract
thinking, and problem solving ability.
- PRQ: Intermediate algebra, and geometry. No Placement Test required
- Meets Core Competency if passed
- The Physical Education program requires its majors to earn a C or higher if satisfying Core Competency with this course.
- Primary audience: V&PA, H&HS, and LA&S B.A. students needing ONLY Core Comp. math; some EDUC students needing math hours
- The number '101' is unfortunate: this is definitely NOT a
'basic math' course or a 'math appreciation' course;
Students have to master substantial mathematics!
- 3 lectures per week (with 120-240 students) plus 1 recitation (with 30)
- NIU's MATH 101 is designed for the needs of NIU students who do not
require a specific math course for their degrees. Because of its unique
goals, it is NOT usually similar to courses at other institutions.
While it is possible to take a course elsewhere which transfers in as
NIU's MATH 101, these transfers must be approved by this department.
Among public institutions within the state of Illinois, only those
courses which carry an IAI code
of M1 901 will transfer to NIU as MATH 101.
MATH 110. COLLEGE ALGEBRA (3). Algebraic and exponential functions, basic
linear algebra. Requires skills and knowledge of intermediate algebra
and plane geometry.
- PRQ: Placement Test group C, or a Community College Intermediate Algebra course (such as Kishwaukee's MATH 098) with a grade of C or better.
- Does NOT meet Core Competency Alone.
Usually, Use to prepare for MATH 155, 206, 210, 211.
- Intended audience is only students preparing for a subsequent courses.
- 3 lectures per week (with 120-240 students) plus 1 recitation (with 30)
Note that students may be required to take an intermediate algebra course
elsewhere; those courses will carry no NIU credit.
MATH 155. TRIGONOMETRY AND ELEMENTARY FUNCTIONS (3). Polynomials and
rational functions, review of exponential and logarithmic functions,
trigonometry, and complex numbers.
- PRQ : MATH 110 with grade of C or better, or Placement Test group B
- Meets Core Competency if a grade of C or better is attained.
- Intended audience is students intending to take MATH 229 (Calculus I),
typically science and engineering students. This is not recommended as
a terminal math course.
- Offered in Fall semesters in large lecture format (3 meetings per
week plus weekly recitation sections with TA in groups of 30;
multiple-choice exams). Offered in Spring and Summer semesters in
small-class format (4 hour meetings per week; standard exams)
MATH 201. FOUNDATIONS OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL MATHEMATICS (3).
Introduction to sets, geometry, measurement, logic, structure of mathematical
systems, and the real number system.
- PRQ: 1 yr of high school algebra and 1 yr of high school geometry.
- Meets Core Competency if a grade of C or better is attained.
- Audience limited to future elementary teachers; this course is
prerequisite for MATH 402.
- Now offered in small sections only
- Typically articulated from community colleges only after a 2-semester sequence is completed.
MATH 206. INTRODUCTORY DISCRETE MATHEMATICS (3).
An introduction to sets,
algorithms, induction, recursion, relations, graphs, trees, and
algebraic structure, with applications, many of which are in computer
science.
- PRQ: MATH 110 or Placement Test group B
- Intended audience: computer science majors.
- Meets Core Competency if a grade of C or better is attained.
- Offered Spring and Fall in small sections
MATH 210. FINITE MATHEMATICS (3). An introduction to mathematical topics
with applications to business, social science, and other
fields. Includes such topics as functions and graphs, matrix algebra
and solutions of systems of linear equations, inequalities and linear
programming, elementary combinatorics, and probability.
- PRQ: 1yr HS algebra + 1 yr HS geometry + Placement Test group B or MATH 110
- Intended audience: open to all. Meets prerequisite for Stat 301,
commonly taken by social science students.
- Meets Core Competency if a grade of C or better is attained,
- Large lecture format (except in summer)
MATH 211. CALCULUS FOR BUSINESS AND SOCIAL SCIENCE (3).
An elementary treatment of topics from differential and integral calculus, with
applications in social science and business.
- PRQ : MATH 110 with a C or better, or Placement Test group B
- Intended audience: business students and B.S. students not in sciences
- Meets Core Competency if a grade of C or better is attained.
- Students who must complete this course for another university
requirement, such as the Business Students' Core, may do so with
a grade of D but will not have met Core Competency requirements.
(They must retake this course for a higher grade, or meet
Core Competency another way such as by passing MATH 101.)
- Typically meets in classes of 90, and weekly with a TA
- Trigonometry not required, but strong algebra skills a must
- Students who are considering a major or minor in the sciences or
engineering and who take MATH 211 will typically have to later
take MATH 229 and will then lose credit for MATH 211; please
consult an advisor before taking MATH 211 if there is any
possibility you will pursue such a path.
MATH 229. CALCULUS I (4).
A first course in calculus. Properties of limits,
theory and application of derivatives, and an introduction to
integration. Applications taken primarily from science and engineering.
- PRQ (requested): MATH 155 with C or better, or Placement Test group A
- First of a three-course sequence. This is the basis for
higher mathematics courses; MATH 229 is designed both to showcase
key mathematical ideas and to prepare students to take MATH 230
and beyond.
- Meets Distributive Studies requirement for students with a major
in another area than Mathematical Sciences.
- Intended audience: Nominal starting point for math, science, and
engineering majors.
- Meets Core Competency if a grade of C or better is attained.
- Honors sections available in Fall semesters
- Offered in small sections, four meetings per week.
All students must fulfill Core Competency requirements in English,
Communications, and Mathematics in order to graduate with a Bachelor's
degree from Northern Illinois University
There are several ways to meet the mathematics Core Competency requirement,
as outlined in the university catalogue.
- Passing MATH 101, or
- Obtaining a grade of C or better in MATH 155, 201, 206, 210, 211, or 229, or
- Obtaining credit for one of the mathematics courses listed above, except MATH 101, through
credit by examination (Advanced Placement), or
- Obtaining a grade of C or better in STAT 208, 301, 350, ISYE 335, or UBUS 223; AND obtaing
a grade of C or better in MATH 110, or an ACT mathematics score of at least 24, or
as SAT mathematics score of at least 560, or
an A- or B-level placement on the mathematics placement examination, or
- Passing the Mathematics Core Competency Examination, or
- Fulfilling the transfer requirements specified in compacts with community
colleges. (In particular, students with A.A. or A.S. degrees from Illinois
Community Colleges have met this requirement.)
Note: These courses cannot be taken on a Pass/Fail basis to meet
Core Competency.
It is highly recommended that students complete all their
Core courses during their first two years of college. Few students
report that mathematics courses become easier after an absence from
these courses!
All of the courses in the General Education list, above, fulfill
other requirements for specific majors and minors. Please consult with
an advisor early in your program in order to make the best selection
of mathematics courses to complete all requirements as expeditiously
as possible. The Department of Mathematical Sciences cannot guarantee
that students will be able to complete their required mathematics
courses in a short time. It is thus the student's responsibility to
begin the required mathematical sciences courses in a timely way.
Listed below are some programs which require specific mathematics
courses. We cannot guarantee at this time that this list is
complete; please contact your program advisor.
- Business: The Business Core requires either MATH 211 or MATH 229.
Note that students may not be permitted to enroll in upper-division
business courses until the Business Core is completed. This requires
UBUS 310, which must follow UBUS 223, which requires MATH210, 211, or 229,
which in turn have MATH 110 (or more) as prerequisites. Students (including
transfer students) who do not take the necessary math courses steadily
and early in their college program will find it difficult to graduate in
a timely fashion.
- Education: MATH 201 and another math course typically required.
MATH 201 is a prerequisite for the methods courses (MATH 402, 410) required
for Elementary Education and other majors. Space is limited in mathematics education courses.
Students are strongly encouraged to register for these courses as soon
their schedules permit.
Physical Education majors must have a C or better in a mathematics Core
Competency course other than MATH 201 in order to complete
KNPE 445 and 446.
- Engineering: Math courses required for graduation vary by major:
- Electrical Engineering: MATH 229-230-232-336 and (STAT 350 or IENG 335)
- Industrial Engineering: MATH 229-230-232-336; math/stat courses in menu
- Mechanical Engineering: MATH 229-230-232-336 and (STAT 350 or IENG 335)
- Engineering Technology: MATH 155-229-230 and (STAT 208 or STAT 301)
- Industrial Technology: MATH 155 and (STAT 208 or STAT 301)
In addition, math courses numbered as high as MATH 336 and STAT 350 are
listed as prerequisites for various CEET courses. Engineering students
who require one or more pre-calculus courses should expect difficulty
completing their programs within the usual time frame
- Health and Human Sciences: Mathematics requirements vary greatly by major.
- Physical Therapy requires (MATH 155 or MATH 229) and (STAT 208 or STAT 301)
- General Community Health requires (STAT 208 or STAT 301)
- Health Administration requires (MATH 210 or 229) and (STAT 301 or UBUS 223)
- Communicative Disorders requires (MATH 210 or MATH 229) and (STAT 208 or 301)
- Family and Child Studies requires (MATH 155 or 210 or 229) and (STAT 208 or 301)
- Textiles, Apparel and Merch. requires MATH 210 and (STAT 208 or UBUS 223)
- Dietetics, Nutrition and Food Systems requires the same (allows Stat 301)
- Nursing requires "an introductory statistics course"
- Visual and Performing Arts: Majors and minors have no mathematics requirement
beyond the university-wide general education requirements.
- Liberal Arts and Sciences: many departments offer both B.A. and B.S. degrees. All LA&S students pursuing a B.S. degree must complete one of these packages (with a minimum GPA):
- (MATH 206 or MATH 210) + MATH 211 + STAT 301 + CSCI 2x0
- MATH 229 + MATH 230 + (MATH 240 or STAT 350 or CSCI 2x0)
- (MATH 206 or MATH 210) + MATH 211 + (2-semester science sequence)
- MATH 229 + (2-semester science sequence)
- MATH 211 + STAT 301 + (2-semester science sequence)
Other required math courses, by department/emphasis:
- Biological Sciences: (229+230) or (211+STAT 301)
- Chemistry: MATH 229, 230. For emphasis 1 add (232 or 336); 334 recommended
- Computer Science: (206 + 211) or (210 + 211) or (229 + 230); (S 301 or 350)
- Theoretical Computer Science requires instead:
- 229, 230, 232, 240, S350, and two of (434, 435, 444, S 473)
- Economics: For B.A.: (STAT 208 or 301 or UBUS 223)
- For B.S.: (210, 211, Stat 301) or (229, 230, Stat 350)
- Geography: For B.A. add: (MATH 210 or 211 or 229) and Stat 301
- Meteorology: MATH 229, 230, 232, 336, Stat 301
- Geology: 229 or (210 and 211)
- History: For B.S. add: (210 + 211 + 301) or (229 + 230) or (229 + 301/...)
- Physics: varies by emphasis
- 1. 229, 230, 232, 336
- 2. 229, 230, 232
- 3. 229, 230, 232, 336
- 4. 229, 230, and one from a menu containing S350
- Political Science: For B.S. add (210+211+S 301) or (229+230+S 350)
- Psychology: For B.A. add (MATH 206 or 210 or 211 or 229) and STAT 301
- For B.S. add (229+230+S 350)
- Sociology: For B.A. add (STAT 208 or 301)
- For B.S. add (MATH 210 + 211 + Stat 301) or (MATH 229+230+Stat 350)
All NIU undergraduates must fulfill the General Education distributive
studies requirements. Transfer students with an earned Associate's degree
from an Illinois community college are considered to have completed
these requirements. All other students must complete 29 semester-hours
of courses chosen from specific options listed in the Undergraduate Catalogue,
none of them in the department of the student's degree. These hours
must include at least 7 semester-hours in Science and Mathematics.
Among the options are two courses in the Department of Mathematical Sciences:
- MATH 229 (4 semester-hours)
- STAT 208 (3 semester-hours)
Specific restrictions apply to the completion of the General Education
requirements; consult the catalogue for details.
Student who earn at least a C in MATH 229 will have completed both
the Core Competency requirement in mathematics and (except for mathematical
sciences majors) four hours of the Distributive Studies requirement.
Director of Undergraduate Studies:
Dr. Qingkai Kong
E-mail:
qkong@niu.edu
Back to the NIU Math Department Web page
Last modified: 2006/07/15 (zjy)