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Math for Engineering and Physics Students

How to add more mathematics to an engineering or physics degree - a second major, minor, or additional coursework.

Math requirements for engineering and physics degrees

Engineering and physics are mathematically intensive fields. All of the engineering programs at SLU (BME, EE, ECE, AE, ME) require:

  • 3 semesters of calculus (MATH 142, 143, and 244)
  • a semester of differential equations (MATH 355)
  • a semester of probability and statistics for engineers (MATH 403)
  • Electrical engineering and computer engineering requires a semester of linear algebra for engineers (MATH 311).
  • Mechanical and aeronautical engineering requires a semester of advanced mathematics for engineers (MATH 370).
  • The BS in physics requires the standard set of math courses for engineering plus MATH 370, and Numerical Analysis (MATH 320).


Options to strengthen your degree with more mathematics

Some students come to SLU with advanced standing or college credit from high school, freeing up room for electives. Adding mathematics is one way to strengthen an engineering degree.

At SLU, the mathematics courses courses are organized so that engineering and physics students can easily strengthen their degree programs by getting a minor or second major in mathematics. This can be done by adding depth in branches of mathematics that the engineering or physics major already requires.

Routinely offered upper division mathematics courses in areas identified as engineering related

  • MATH 311 - Linear Algebra for Engineers
  • MATH 315 - Introduction to Linear Algebra
  • MATH 320 - Numerical Analysis
  • MATH 355 - Differential Equations
  • MATH 370 - Advanced Math for Engineers
  • MATH 401 - Probability
  • MATH 402 - Statistics
  • MATH 403 - Probability and Statistics for Engineers
  • MATH 451 - Complex Variables I
  • MATH 452 - Complex Variables II
  • MATH 455 - Partial Differential Equations
  • MATH 457 - Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos
  • MATH 465 - Cryptography

Minor in Engineering Mathematics

The minor in engineering mathematics requires 4 upper division courses beyond calculus in branches of mathematics of interest to engineers. (This minor can be thought of as "more of the same kind of math".) Students in the BS program in physics fill the requirements for this minor as part of their regular degree program. Students in other engineering programs can complete the minor by taking one or two additional math courses.

Some easy ways to do this with a view to strengthening an engineering degree include:

  • taking a course in advanced differential equations (MATH 455 partial differential equations of MATH 457 nonlinear dynamics and chaos),
  • taking the year long sequence in probability and statistics (MATH 401 and 402) rather than the one semester course (MATH 403)
  • taking another upper division course that is engineering related (numerical analysis, complex variables, cryptography).

Minor in Mathematics

The standard minor in mathematics requires students to take courses with a greater emphasis on proof and on developing rigor in mathematics argumentation. This minor requires a transitions course, principles of mathematics (MATH 266), and a more theoretical linear algebra course (MATH 315). Students in the BA program in physics fill the requirements for this minor as part of their regular degree program.

  • For students in most engineering programs this requires the addition of principles of mathematics (MATH 266) and linear algebra (MATH 315).
  • For students in the EE or ECE program, MATH 315 can be used as a substitute for the MATH 311 requirement.

(The standard minor in mathematics specifies a sequence of courses with a substantial proof component. The engineering minor has more freedom, but requires an extra course.)

A Second Major in Mathematics

Since engineering and physics are so math intensive, a double major in math can be good preparation for graduate school in engineering.

  • Students in engineering programs wanting a second major in mathematics only need to take 4 (EE and ECE) or 5 (BME, AE, and ME) more courses in mathematics beyond their basic degree requirements.
  • Students in the BS program in physics only need 3 extra math courses for a second major in mathematics.

The math major requires calculus III, principles of mathematics and linear algebra (MATH 266 and 315), and 5 additional upper division math courses including 2 year long sequences. The most efficient way to complete the second major is to take a second course in differential equations (either MATH 455 or 457) and to take the year long sequence in probability/statistics (MATH 401 and 402 rahter than MATH 403), adding depth in areas of mathemtics in which the engineering programs already require at least one course.

How to declare

Since the engineering and physics degree programs are quite full, advanced planning is required to strengthen the program by adding more math. Students wanting to do this should discuss the issue with their engineering advisor early in their career at SLU. To add a minor or second major a student needs to fill out a declaration form in the department with the major or minor. The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science office is in Ritter Hall 104.

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