What Math Class Should I take?

Math Path Schematic

Learn about the introductory paths through mathematics in our Math Path schematic [PDF].

The mathematics curriculum at Pomona College has a number of entry points and it is possible to go through the introductory courses following a variety of different paths. Start by reading these notes, then look at the Math Path schematic [pdf], and finally discuss your choices with your advisor. The faculty of the mathematics department will be happy to discuss your choices with you as well.

What are the entry point Math classes?

Most students will enter the mathematics curriculum by taking one of Calculus and Applied Mathematics for Science and Economics (Math 29), Calculus I (Math 30), a flavor of Calculus II (Math 31, Math 31S, or Math 31H), a flavor of Multivariable Calculus (Math 32 or Math 32S), or Linear Algebra (Math 60). Some students will begin with a Statistics course (Math 58, 58b, or an advanced course in data analysis), some students take Math 1, and a few students begin in courses beyond Math 60.

Should I jump ahead or should I consolidate before proceeding?

Regardless of your mathematics background, you will likely have a choice of either moving on to the next course or taking the time to master earlier material. Factors that could influence your decision are your confidence level, the intensity of your schedule, and your academic goals.

Should I take Math 29 (Calculus and Applied Mathematics for Science and Economics)?

Many of the Sciences as well as Economics courses depend on the students' ability to be able to translate the given information into a mathematical problem and then solve it. This class emphasizes problem solving and prepares students for science and economics classes. If you have had calculus in high school and want to strengthen your calculus background and problem solving skills in the context of the sciences and economics before entering Calculus I or II, if you have not had calculus and want to learn some calculus before entering Calculus I, or if you are interested in careers in the health sciences, then you should consider this class. Depending on your previous background in calculus, you can follow Math 29 with Math 30 or Math 31.

Should I take Math 30 or a flavor of Math 31?

Math 30 and Math 31 are first and second semester calculus. Math 30 covers roughly similar ground to AP Calculus AB and Math 31 corresponds to AP Calculus BC. In addition to the regular Math 31, we teach, in the spring semesters, Math 31S that emphasizes applications to the life sciences, and, in the Fall, Math 31H that is a more challenging class and explores connections with other areas of mathematics.

Math 32, Math 32S, Math 60, and Math 67?

There are three ways to experience multivariable calculus at Pomona College. You can take the regular multivariable calculus course (Math 32) and later follow it with Linear Algebra (Math 60). If you are interested in the life sciences or if you want a fast track to Mathematical Modeling, then you can take Math 32S (followed by Differential Equations and Mathematical Modeling). Finally, if you are planning to take a substantial number of Math courses, you are advised to take Linear Algebra (Math 60) followed by Vector Calculus (Math 67---a multivariable calculus class with a linear algebra prerequisite).


Math 58 (Intro to Statistics) and Math 58B (Intro to Biostatistics) are both introductory level statistics courses and their prerequisite is Math 29 or Math 30. If you have had AP Statistics or if you have taken a statistic course in another department (e.g., Econ Stats, Psych Stats) then you should not take either. More advanced statistics courses numbered 15x which have only an Intro Statistics class (e.g., AP Stats, Math 58 or 58b, other Stats course) as a prerequisite are offered once a semester. It may make more sense to take the latter courses after you have had a bit more math or a bit more experience in the sciences and/or Economics.

Math for Humanities

Math 1 (Math, Philosophy, and the Real World) has high school algebra and geometry as  prerequisites, and combines historical, mathematical, and philosophical readings. The class is an exciting option for the students of the humanities, and any student who wants to put mathematics in a humanistic context.  Math 1 is taught at Pomona every other spring

If I am a Pomona student, are there advantages to taking the introductory math classes at Pomona?

The Claremont Colleges Mathematics Departments have a cooperative program and Pomona students often take mathematics courses on the other campuses. For introductory courses, however, there are two advantages for staying on your home campus. Most mathematics courses emphasize collaboration and many depend on it. It could be easier for you to find a supportive group of peers to work with and more convenient to attend evening mentor sessions on your own campus. Additionally, as a Pomona student, getting to know Pomona faculty may be helpful as you proceed through the curriculum.