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Undergraduate Program

Upper Level Writing Requirement

The upper-level writing requirement for the BA, BS mathematics majors, as well as the Applied Math BS major is as follows (updated 3/30/2020):

Students earning undergraduate degrees in mathematics, whatever their intended career path, must be able to write precisely and coherently on mathematical topics in a manner that is acceptable to the general mathematical community. Examples of such writing can be found in published mathematical papers, manuals, textbooks, and expository articles aimed at non-expert audiences. These skills are also expected of mathematics majors by graduate programs in mathematics, graduate and professional programs in other fields and perspective employers.

The UPPER LEVEL WRITING requirement consists in passing two courses. Students may choose two courses from "Type A" or one from "Type A" and one from "Type B" as described below:

Type A

  • The writing-intensive version* of any of the following: MTH 174, MTH 200, MTH 235, MTH 236 (H), MTH 240 (H), and MTH 265 (H).
  • MTH 300W History of Mathematics.
  • An independent study MTH 391W, usually one credit and taken in conjunction with a 200-level Mathematics course other than MTH 300W. The independent study must be in addition to any course-work in the associated 200-level course.
  • MTH 395W, a senior essay course (usually two credits) under the supervision of a faculty member. The faculty member will supervise both the mathematical content and the writing of this paper. The paper should be on the general level of what is found in undergraduate mathematical journals.

Type B

  • WRT 275- Mathematics: Communicating Your Professional Identity. Students in this course develop a professional communication portfolio of materials such as resumes, cover letters, statements of purpose, electronic communications, elevator pitches, project descriptions and abstracts, and online profiles. Students revise and refine their written and spoken work across the semester based on feedback from peers, instructors, and alumni. Other versions of the Communicating Your Professional Identity course, such as WRT 273 or WRT 277, are also acceptable.
  • A course satisfying part of the upper level writing requirement in another department. Courses of this type must be approved by the student's advisor in the Mathematics Department being judged to significantly enhance the technical writing skill of the student.

Each of the courses in type A should involve the writing of at least 20 pages. Writing will be subject to a review process, either in the classroom or in an individual setting, and subsequent re-writing and re-submission is expected. It is expected that all mathematics majors graduate with a working knowledge of LaTeX.

*Writing Intestive Versions: Up to five students per semester (on a first-come, first-served basis) will be allowed to opt to take the writing-intensive version of several 200-level math courses. This will entail an additional intensive drafting and feedback process of specifically chosen prompts during the semester. These prompts will have significant overlap with the existing assignments for the course, but a typical student in the course will not be asked to submit multiple drafts. By contrast, a student in the writing-intensive version may submit several versions of a given assignment. For example, a writing-intensive student might submit first a rough draft, which would get professor feedback (perhaps both written and oral); a first version, which would be sent out for peer review (in person and in email); a second version, which would get TA feedback; and then a final version, which would get professor feedback. The writing-intensive version of the course would have a writing component of the grade equaling as much as 20% of the course grade.

A course can simultaneously satisfy both the Advanced Course Requirement and the Upper Level Writing Requirement. For example, MTH 200W can count as both an advanced mathematics course and a writing requirement course at the same time. Likewise, ECO 231W can count simultaneously as a significant math content course and a writing requirement course. To continue the example, a student who takes both MTH 200W and ECO 231W as part of their Advanced Course Requirements will have satisfied their Upper Level Writing Requirement completely without having to take any additional courses. Of course, these are just examples; the point is that the Upper Level Writing Requirement does not necessarily require additional courses beyond the advanced course requirements (though in some cases it might).