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School of Science

Course XVIII -- Mathematics

With 18.01 and 18.02 already a part of the General Institute Requirements, most undergraduates at MIT are familiar with the math department.

“It’s the diversity in the department. It’s the strengths in all areas of mathematics” that make the MIT math department great, said Professor James R. Munkres.

The 236 additional undergraduate math majors can get their degrees in one of three areas: general, theoretical, or applied math. There is also a separate option, Course XVIII-C, for a degree in math with computer science.

A degree in applied or theoretical math differs slightly in the specific subject required. Course XVIII-C requires math majors to take 6.001 and other Course VI classes.

To get a minor in math, students must take six 12-unit subjects beyond the GIRs, including at least four advanced subjects.

Most math majors choose to pursue a degree in Course XVIII instead of XVIII-C; the graduating class has 86 math majors and ten math with computer science majors. Of this year’s graduating math majors, 74 will get a degree in general math, with eleven in theoretical math and one in applied math.

The math department has now begun a tutoring program for upper-level classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that math majors will have another place to go for help.

As for introductory classes, the math department also offers sessions Monday through Thursday, where older students are on hand to help students in those lower-level classes.

The math department also tries to support its undergraduates through the advising system; there are twenty-seven advisers in the math faculty.

Students rate the faculty in Course XVIII as one of the strengths of the department. “I like that the faculty seem pretty friendly and [are] willing to work with the students,” said Edward F. Early ’00.

There are 12 professors emeriti in the math department, 36 professors, five associate professors, 11, assistant professors, and 34 instructors.

The department also offers research positions for math majors. According to the UROP office, fourteen students had UROPs in the math department in the fall, and six currently have math UROPs this spring. Six of those twenty UROPs were for-credit positions, while the rest were for pay. The math department only funded two of the twenty UROP students; the rest got funding through the UROP office.

After graduation, most math majors get jobs, although a significant number go on to higher education. “Math is more flexible in terms of what people do afterwards,” Munkres said.

According to Munkres, approximately seven of last year’s 89 graduates went on to do graduate work in math. About eight pursued advanced degrees in other fields such as computer science, physics, and economics. Other graduates got jobs: “the most popular are software systems analysis and financial work,” Munkres said.--Rima Arnaout