Lunt Hall, home of the Math Department


First Year Focus


Degree Requirements


Prospective Students


SCS & Summer Session


Calculus Office Hours

Summer Math



Post-College Planning

Math Clubs

Photo Galleries


Math students in class

Math students in class

Undergraduate Program: First Year Focus

Why study mathematics?

"He was not fast. Speed means nothing. Math doesn't depend on speed. It is about deep." (Yuri Burago of the Steklov Institute of Mathematics speaking about Fields Medal winner Grigory Perelman)

Mathematics, often celebrated as the "Queen of the Sciences," has long been a basic tool in the physical sciences, engineering, and commerce. Today, it is also used in sophisticated ways in the social sciences and humanities. Students majoring in mathematics have the opportunity to learn about its diverse applications, as well as acquiring an understanding of both the foundations and the frontiers of the discipline.

Many students, understanding the importance of mathematical preparation for careers outside of mathematics, choose a second major or a minor in mathematics, and the department is prepared to guide their course selection with those goals in mind.


Frequently asked ALEKS questions

AP & IB Exam Credit

Students may use one quarter of math AP or IB credit to fulfill a single unit of the WCAS Area II (formal studies) distribution requirement.

Passing Math 230 or any more advanced math course with a grade of C- or better fulfills the entire WCAS Area II (formal studies) distribution requirement.

Mathematics AB (or AB subscore of Mathematics BC) 4, 5 Math 220-0
Mathematics BC below 4 see Mathematics AB
Mathematics BC 4,5 Math 220-0 and Math 224-0
IB Higher Level Exam 5, 6 Math 220-0
IB Higher Level Exam 7 Math 220-0 and Math 224-0

Course recommendations for First-Year Students

If you have studied some single variable calculus but are unsure about placement, take the self placement exam

Questions? Make an appointment with the appropriate person below.

Calculus placement; advice on 100- and 200- level courses Martina Bode, Director of Calculus Lunt 229 (847) 491-5598
calculusat Math Northwestern (edu)
MENU program John Alongi, Director of MENU Lunt B3 (847) 491-3299
Advising about 300-level courses and for math majors/minors; declaring a math major/minor; study abroad; taking math courses away from NU; math career and graduate school information Michael R. Stein, Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) Lunt 308 (847) 491-3299



If you took AP or IB exams...

Placement Recommendations

EXAM SCORE Recommended Placement Other Possible Placement (*)
Mathematics AB (or AB subscore of Mathematics BC) 4 Math 224 Math 230
Mathematics AB (or AB subscore of Mathematics BC) 5 Math 224, 230 or 290-1
Mathematics BC 4 Math 290-1 or 291-1 Math 230
Mathematics BC 5 Math 290-1 or 291-1 Math 230
IB Higher Level Exam 5,6 Math 224
IB Higher Level Exam 7 Math 290-1 or 291-1 Math 230

(*) to be determined in consultation with a math adviser

Math 290 and 291 are the entry courses in our MENU program. Students invited to join MENU (based on their AP or IB scores) should give serious consideration to this option, since MENU is the preferred pathway to a math major or minor and the preferred prerequisite for applicants to MMSS and the Kellogg certificate programs. More information, including the differences between 290 and 291, is available on the MENU webpage.



If you did not take AP or IB exams...

Beginning calculus sequences

Math 220 initiates a five quarter sequence (220, 224, 230, 234, 240) of courses in calculus and linear algebra which are prerequisite to all higher mathematics courses and are required for science, engineering, and many economics majors.

Math 212, 213, 214 can replace 220 and 224 for students who have had little or no previous exposure to calculus and are unconfident about their mathematical preparation. True beginners -- those who can certify that they have had no prior exposure to calculus whatsoever (a precalculus course is permitted) -- may obtain permission to enroll in Math 212 from the Math Office (Lunt 201). Others with a limited background must consult the Director of Calculus for such permission. True beginners and those with a limited background may also enroll in our standard Math 220 followed by 224 which cover single-variable calculus in in less time.