Declaring a Major
Procedures for Declaring a Math Major
1. Decide on your major.
Review the list of all academic majors available through the Department of Mathematics, including all the majors offered in combination with other academic departments. The course requirements specific to each of those majors is available in the course catalog.
A note about Computer Science courses for prospective Math, M/CS and Statistics majors and Math majors considering a minor in Computer Science:
Computer Science restricts entry to certain CSCI classes. For example, students early in their academic careers have priority for beginning classes, while advanced classes are restricted to certain declared majors. Some of these restrictions are lifted during Phase II of registration; the relevant details for each individual class can be found on Classfinder.
- For CSCI 141 and 145, only students with freshman or sophomore status (less than 90 credits) may register in Phase I.
- For CSCI 241, 247 and 301, declared Computer Science and Data Science pre-majors may register in Phase I, and declared Applied Math, Statistics, and M/CS majors may register for CSCI 241 and 301 in Phase 1.
- CSCI 141,145, 241, 247, and 301 are open to all students in Phase II after the major, pre-major and credit restrictions have been lifted.
- All CSCI classes numbered above 301 are Major restricted. Math, M/CS and Statistics majors who have declared the major may register for the CSCI classes required by their major, but not for any other upper division CSCI classes.
The CS Department does not waive the credit or major restrictions for Applied Math, Math, M/CS or Statistics majors. Like CS majors, these students need to take these beginning CSCI courses early in their academic careers and be declared in their major to move forward.
2. Work with a faculty member to declare a major.
For most of our majors, specific faculty members have been identified as potential faculty advisors. You may request any of the faculty members listed as the advisor for a specific major to serve as your faculty advisor.
For some joint majors with other academic departments you also need a faculty advisor in the other department; the major declaration process may start in that other department, and it may follow a different process established by that department:
|B.S. Biology/Mathematics||Biology||Ben Miner|
|B.A.E. Chemistry/Mathematics (Secondary Education)||Chemistry||Emily Borda|
|B.A. Economics/Mathematics||Economics||Diane Brearley, Dept. Manager|
|B.A.E. Physics/Mathematics (Secondary Education)||Physics||Thanh Le|
Note for prospective B.A.E. Chemistry/Mathematics and Physics/Mathematics (Secondary Education) majors: You need to be admitted to Woodring College of Education to complete your major requirements. Before applying to Woodring for admission you need to complete SCED 370 and 481; you then apply to the Woodring Admissions Office (TeacherEd.Admission@wwu.edu). You need to have been admitted to Woodring before you can take SCED 491 and MATH 483. Please contact math faculty advisor Jess Cohen (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more guidance on this process.
Contact the faculty advisor you would like to work with and ask them whether they are willing to serve in that capacity. If you have difficulty finding a faculty advisor willing to work with you, please contact the math department office at Math.email@example.com.
3. Prepare documents.
- Get a copy of the relevant major course requirements through the course catalog.
- Get a copy of your unofficial student record via Web4U
- If you have any relevant transfer courses, get a copy of your Transfer Equivalency Report (TER).
- On your student record and on your TER, highlight any courses relevant to the major that you have completed or are currently taking or are currently registered for.
- Scan the highlighted copies of your student record and TER into pdf document format.
- Complete an online Major Plan of Study by using the Mathematics Department’s Interactive Plan of Study. Download the file to your own computer or OneDrive (don't try to edit the form from the link as-is), read the instructions, and fill in as much of the form as you can.
Students are strongly advised to do the sequence MATH 204 – 304 – 331 in that order in successive quarters, since each course depends heavily on the material of the previous course and it is best to use that knowledge while it is still fresh. If another course based on MATH 331 is to be taken, plan to take it soon after completing MATH 331. The analysis courses MATH 226 – 302 – 312 should be taken in that order. MATH 419 should be taken in the last quarter.
- Students frequently need guidance on course selection and sequencing for their major, and the faculty advisors are ready to assist them with this. Please reach out to your advisor via email and ask for help, if needed. They will be happy to discuss your math experience, interests and goals. These conversations can be an essential step in completing your Major Plan of Study.
- When your Major Plan of Study is ready for its final review and approval, save your file in two separate ways:
- First, as an Excel workbook (e.g. “MathPlanOfStudy.xlsx”). This version saves a copy of the full spreadsheet and preserves its capabilities so you or your advisor can make changes as necessary and update it as you progress through your plan of study.
- Second, as a printable PDF plan of study (e.g. “MathPlanOfStudy.pdf”). To do this, click on the “PRINTABLE” tab, the second sheet in the spreadsheet and either print to PDF or save as a PDF. This sheet is specifically designed for printing – it removes all the instructions and other superfluous information and prints only your information and plan. This is the version of the Major Plan of Study that you will attach to your Major Declaration and Change Form.
4. Declare your major.
Complete Section I of the Major Declaration and Change Form.
In the blue box at the bottom of the form, attach a copy of your printable PDF plan of study, your student record and your TER.
Forward the completed Major Declaration and Change Form and its attachments to your faculty advisor using the ‘Email to:’ box. You can track the progress of your form by checking the box labeled “(As Submitter of this form I want to receive email notifications every time an action is taken.)” before submitting.
The faculty advisor will review your materials and your Major Plan of Study, and advise you regarding appropriate courses and course sequences to take. If there are any issues with your Major Plan of Study that need to be corrected, or terms that need to be recorded such as acceptable course substitutions, the forms will be returned to you for you to make the relevant changes, and you will need to resubmit the amended documents to your faculty advisor.
5. Wait for approval.
Once the Major Plan of Study has been finalized, the advisor will approve the Major Declaration form by forwarding it, with its attachments, to the Math Department office.
The Math Department staff will complete Section II of the Major Declaration and Change Form, record the student’s name and form number for the department archives and forward the form to the Registrar.
It is your responsibility to confirm that your major declaration form has reached the Registrar. Your student record will show what major(s) you are currently signed up for, and should show your newly declared major within a few days of submitting your form to the Department of Mathematics. Your student record and declared majors and minors can also be found on DegreeWorks.
Satisfying the requirements for completion of a major is distinct from meeting the requirements for a degree. For example, to get a degree from Western you must complete 60 upper division credits (courses numbered 300 or higher); your major alone probably does not require 60 upper division credits. Similarly, Western requires completion of a Writing Proficiency requirement; that requirement can often be met by a course that also meets a major requirement (such as Math 419) but can also be met by courses outside the major (e.g. English 302, Technical Writing).
Courses required for the major have to be passed with a grade of at least C-. In the case of majors in Education, including Math Education, a grade of at least C is required in every course.
For course sequences such as Math 124-125-224-225, successful completion of a higher numbered course in the sequence is deemed to imply satisfactory completion of a lower numbered course for the purposes of meeting the requirements of the major. For example, transfer students who have completed a class deemed equivalent to Math 225 are deemed to have successfully completed Math 224 for the major. Note that you will not get additional course or degree credit for such a lower numbered course unless you actually took that course.
Completing the Major Plan of Study forces you to consider the sequence of courses you need to take. Most higher numbered math courses have lower numbered prerequisites. Not every 300 level course is offered every quarter, and many 400 level courses are offered only once a year or every other year. The quarter in which these courses are offered varies; typical times are shown on the attached schedule of course offerings elsewhere in this information packet.
The Major Plan of Study is a planning tool. You are not limited to the courses listed on your Major Plan of Study. The approval of that form by your advisor merely confirms that completing the listed courses meets the requirements for the major. You may deviate from your Major Plan of Study, but the onus is on you to ensure that your new schedule still meets the requirements for the major.
If you have over 90 credits and have not completed at least 3 quarters of calculus and linear algebra, consider taking a minor in another subject in order to fill out your degree schedule.
The major guides do not necessarily list all of the course electives which can be used to satisfy some of your major requirements. Check the university catalog for a more comprehensive Course Listing Recommendations.
Course Scheduling Recommendations
Many math courses are sequential. It is recommended that students who need to complete such sequences take all the courses in the sequence in consecutive quarters when possible, so that knowledge from the previous course is fresh when the next course in the sequence is taken. Such course sequences include:
- Math 124 – 125 – 224 (the core calculus sequence)
- Math 204 - 304 (the linear algebra sequence)
- Math 331 and any one of Math 415, 430 or 432 (a differential equations sequence)
- Math 341 – 342 and Math 441 – 442 (the core statistics and probability sequences)
- Math 381 – 382 – 383 (the elementary math education sequence)
Many majors include a required course in analysis, usually Math 312. The course sequence Math 226 – one of either Math 302 or Math 309 – Math 312 is recommended as the pathway to completing this requirement.
Math 419 (History of Mathematics, 3 credits) satisfies the university’s entire Writing Proficiency requirement. It is thus a useful elective to take within many math majors.
Upper Division and Elective Courses
Many upper division Math and M/CS classes are not listed amongst the requirements of any particular major, but are available as electives, although they are sometimes only offered in alternate years. Consult the University Catalog, Classfinder or the attached schedule of course offerings to find a more complete listing of all available electives. In particular we now offer a wide range of classes in statistics, and have expanded our range of options in various areas of discrete mathematics. For particularly strong students it may also be an option to take one or more of our graduate (500-level) classes.
Most of our classes through the 300-level are also offered as Summer classes. However, classes at the 400- and 500-level are rarely offered in the Summer.