Mathematics Major Guide for 2011-2012

What is Mathematics

A person who majors in mathematics is trained to solve problems by ignoring superfluous detail, looking for structure, and designing a logical method of attack that considers a wide range of possible outcomes and tries to eliminate preconceived notions. Mastering the content and techniques used in Mathematics is what makes this desirable outcome possible.

Career Opportunities in Mathematics

Because math majors are trained to think clearly and logically, as well as to quantify, they are sought by business, government and industry. In particular, mathematics majors do many things besides teaching.
Recent graduates have ended up in the following fields: Actuarial Science (analyzing risks for insurance companies), Banking (designing programs so that computers can do lots of things, e.g., billing and payroll), Education (teaching at all levels, including college), Operations Research (finding the optimal way to schedule alternatively, organize industrial operations, e.g., refineries, assembly lines, and inventory control), Computer Industry (designing hardware and software), Health Professions (data mining and data compression), Cryptologist (discovering how to send messages difficult to decipher, or deciphering messages from hostile nations and groups), Law (Law schools appreciate the logical training math majors receive), Investment and Securities (research departments), and Systems Analyst (helping teams of engineers solve real world problems).

Salary Trends in Mathematics

Mathematics majors typically receive some of the highest salaries among all college graduates. Only engineering graduates rank consistently above mathematics majors in starting salaries.
Even better, the kinds of jobs math majors typically fill rank near the top on job-satisfaction surveys because mathematicians usually have considerable autonomy in structuring their jobs.

High School Preparation

Since the tools one uses to quantify problems are algebraic, geometric, and analytic (i.e., function driven) in nature, potential math majors should have had four years of high school mathematics: two courses in algebra, one in geometry, and one on functions (usually called pre­calculus). It is NOT necessary to have taken AP calculus, or even any calculus, in high school to successfully major in mathematics at the University of Tennessee.
Many math majors liked math in high school, but even if you didn’t, you may still want to major in math. In college courses, you will discover that mathematics is the language used by the world’s most creative minds to discuss the world’s most novel, exciting ideas. Math really can be the key to the cosmos.

How to Major in Mathematics

There are only a few fixed requirements for a math major. During the first two years you will complete the calculus sequence and other basic courses that are prerequisites to higher level mathematics. These courses include “Introduction to Abstract Mathematics,” which helps in the transition to the more abstract methods of thinking that take place in upper division mathematics courses. This course may be taken as early as the freshman year and will help determine the path that you follow towards completion of the major requirements. The only constraints on your choices from here on are the department’s breadth and depth requirements. At least one course must be taken from each of four fundamental areas of mathematics:

  • Analysis
  • Algebra
  • Numerical analysis
  • Probability

Each math major must also take a year­long sequence in one of the above areas.

Requirements for Mathematics

Prerequisites to the major are Mathematics 141-142 (or Honors version: 147­-148) and 171 or Computer Science 102.
Major requirements consists of 37 semester hours of mathematics courses including (1) Math 231, 241 (or 247), 251 (or 257), 300 (or 307), and (2) eight additional courses at the 300­400 level (except 309, 399, 403, 405, 490, 497 and 498) satisfying the following conditions:

  • At least one course must be taken from each of the following categories:
    Algebra: 351, 455-456 (457-458)
    Analysis: 341, 445-446 (447-448)
    Numerical Analysis: 371 or Computer Science 370, 471-472
    Probability Statistics: 323, 423-424 (423-425)
  • At least one 400 level two-semester sequence must be taken from the list above.
  • CS 311 and CS 380 may be used as upper division math electives in part (2).

Honors Concentration
The requirements to graduate with honors in mathematics are the same as those for the mathematics major except in part (2) only six courses at the 300-400 level are required, and at least two 400-level two-semester sequences must be taken, at least one of those must be an honors sequence.  Moreover, the following requirements must be met:

  • Graduate with an overall GPA of 3.25 and a MGPA of at least 3.4.
  • Complete at least 4 hours of Mathematics 497.
  • Complete at least 3 hours of Senior Honors Thesis (Mathematics 498).
  • Complete a total of 24 hours of honors courses or mathematics courses numbered 510 or higher (except seminars) for undergraduate credit.

Please see the undergraduate catalog for specific information on the Honors Concentration.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

The Mathematics Department has a tutorial center, which is staffed primarily by undergraduate math majors that provides part-time employment and educational experience for students interested in teaching after they graduate.
Students interested in industrial employment should look into our Co-operative Education Program in which, beginning at the Sophomore level, students alternate periods (usually semesters) of full-time jobs with periods of full-time study. This program provides professional training, on-the-job experience, and income for math majors and other applied majors, e.g., computer science, engineering, and statistics. Frequently, successful students end up taking their first job after graduation from a company where they had co-operative experience. If you are interested in this program, take several courses from the Computer Science Department and/or the Statistics Department, along with your math major courses, and contact the Co-op office in 100 Dunford Hall early during your first year here.

Highlights of Mathematics

The mathematics program at UT is designed to serve students with a broad range of interests and inclinations. Talented and highly motivated students may choose to participate in the departmental Honors Program, which features an accelerated curriculum leading to graduate courses as early as the junior year. Several recent graduates of this fast-track curriculum have received prestigious fellowships to some of the top graduate schools in the country.
Math major classes at the upper division level are small (rarely over 20 students per class), so math majors tend to know each other well. The departmental Junior Colloquium offers biweekly talks designed for undergraduates, given by mathematicians from UT and other universities.
The faculty of the Mathematics Department at the University of Tennessee is widely recognized for their internationally respected research programs and scholarly output. Therefore, math majors benefit from a well-informed, up-to-date faculty with multiple contacts throughout the national and international mathematical community.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

“Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to transform the UTK campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Thus students are encouraged to actively participate in the diverse cultural programs offered on campus.  Some of these events include the guest lecture series, cultural nights at the International House, and international film screenings.  Visit the Center for International Education web site ( or the Ready for the World web site ( for more information on upcoming cultural programs and activities.
Students are also encouraged to develop a global perspective within their academic program through study abroad.  Visit the Programs Abroad Office web site ( for information on study abroad opportunities.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Sample Curriculum

Following this four-year plan will help you stay on track to graduate in four years.  Milestone courses have been identified as the minimum courses that must be completed.

Freshman Year Credit Hours
English Composition 6
Foreign Language 6
Math 141, 142 or Math 147, 148 8
Math 171 or Computer Science 102 3-4
Natural Science Lab Sequence 8
Milestone courses: English 101, natural science (3-4 hrs) and Math 130 or higher
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Foreign Language or General Electives 6
Non-US History Sequence 6
Social Science 6
Math 231, 241(247), 251(257), 300(307) 13
Milestone courses: English 102, elementary foreign language proficiency, a social science and Math 142 and 171 or COSC 102
Junior Year Credit Hours
Arts and Humanities 3
Upper Level Distribution 3
Math (major) 12
Upper Division Elective 3
General Electives 6-7
Senior Year Credit Hours
Communicating Through Writing 3
Communicating Orally 3
Upper Level Distribution 3
Math (major) 12
Arts and Humanities 3
Upper Division Electives 6
GRAND TOTAL (minimum) 120

For More Information

Charles Collins
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Mathematics Department
University of Tennessee



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.