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College math requirements for non-science majors

  1. Dec 18, 2012 #1
    What are the math requirements for those not majoring in science, engineering, or finance?

    Are non-science majors still required to take physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 18, 2012 #2


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    Check the university and community college catalogs for what requirements. One of the general education requirements would include one or two courses of some laboratory science, but Physics is a possible but not required option.

    Best that I remember of the minimum Mathematics requirement, College Algebra as the REQUIRED college level course, although "PreCalculus" or Trigonometry, Finite Math, or Statistics might be accepted instead.
  4. Dec 18, 2012 #3
    Is college algebra particularly difficult?
  5. Dec 19, 2012 #4
    For those not majoring in science, engineering, or finance? Well if they were majoring in interpretive dance I would think the math requirement would be nil.

    If I was a non-science major in say, Middle Eastern Politics, I doubt very much I would be required to study physics.
  6. Dec 19, 2012 #5
    Yes, but the general education curriculum contains college algebra as well as statistics. Regardless of your major, you are required to earn a certain amount of credits in this subject in order to graduate and earn your degree.
  7. Dec 19, 2012 #6
    Not in Australia. For example if I look through all the majors in Bachelor of Arts at the local university, there is no science or maths requirements.

    http://www.usq.edu.au/handbook/current/arts/BART.html#programenrolment.pattern [Broken]

    And no swimming test in Australia either http://swimtest.cornell.edu/ [Broken] (we prefer to win Olympic medals instead).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  8. Dec 19, 2012 #7


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    The difficulty depends on you; on your teacher; or on both you and your teacher.
    An answer to help characterise the difficulty is, it's very difficult, like "Intermediate Algebra" slightly metamorphising into a werewolf.

    Are BOTH required, or are you supposed to pick one? Statistics is probably an elementary college level course. Not sure where in the world you will attend, but College Algebra in U.S.A. is a terminal Math course for non-science major fields, but PreCalculus is usually used for qualifying for the study of Calculus & Analytic Geometry. PreCalculus is also known as "College Algebra and Trigonometry".
  9. Dec 19, 2012 #8


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    1)Usually, you are only required to take College Algebra*

    2)No, but typically you'll need to take one or two science courses, this can include physics, but also biology, chemistry, geology, and perhaps geography.

    *If you major in business you will probably be forced to take an intro to stat course. It isn't difficult, but if you are required to do so, do it as soon as possible after taking algebra.

    As for if Algebra is hard or not. It isn't 'hard' per se, just most people who take algebra at college have no interest in math and thus do not spend extra time studying for it. Math is one of those classes you have to spend time on and do a lot of problems. If you ask questions and solve problems, you should find it reasonable.
  10. Dec 19, 2012 #9
    How much more advanced with college algebra as opposed to algebra in high school?
  11. Dec 19, 2012 #10


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    Exact course content varies among districts, so not easy to give a perfect answer.

    Introductory/Beginning/Elementary Algebra and Intermediate Algebra are remedial courses at community college; they are not for college credit. These are also high school courses but there they are categorized as "College Preparatory".

    Some topic differences briefly:

    Intermediate Algebra - Quadratic functions and graphs, a few cubic functions, rational equations, Sequences & Series, Exponential functions and their inverses (logarithmic functions), sometimes also simple systems of linear and linear & quadratic equations. Maybe a bit of Binomial Theorem.

    College Algebra - Quadratic functions and higher degree polynomial functions and their graphs, Rational functions including their graphs, various ways to study and find zeros of functions, Sequences & Series including their limits, Exponential Functions and their inverses and possibly more intricate and advanced, sometimes/often more advanced study of systems of equations (usually linear equations and some introduction to matrices for systems of linear equations), a bit of Binomial Theorem.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  12. Dec 19, 2012 #11
    The minimal requirement for math GEs at my undergrad was Calc I+II or a brutal 6 unit computer science weeder class so yeah. College algebra is not hard.
  13. Dec 19, 2012 #12

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    This depends entirely on where you go. MIT requires two semesters of calculus and one of physics. My sister fulfilled her science requirement with "fashion and textiles". And there's everything in between.
  14. Dec 19, 2012 #13
    Unfortunately my math skills do not go beyond basic calculator arithmetic.

  15. Dec 19, 2012 #14


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    If that is how your Mathematics knowledge is, you may be ready for either Pre-Algebra or an Algebra 1 course (sometimes called Beginning, or Basic, or Introductory, or Elementary Algebra).
  16. Dec 19, 2012 #15
    I have a specific learning disability in mathematical comprehension and even basic algebra might be a struggle for me.
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