Do You Have to Take Math in College?

Do You Have to Take Math in College?

6 minute read

You probably took math in high school to earn your diploma. But do you have to take math in college? The simple answer is: it depends. Let’s learn more about college math requirements, including whether or not colleges and universities require them and what you can expect if they do.

What Are College Math Classes?

College math classes are designed to develop your quantitative reasoning and problem-solving skills. These classes generally serve as core courses required for graduation, as well as prerequisites for specific majors. Common classes include:

Why Are Math Classes Important?

Math is more than numbers and equations. It teaches you valuable life skills that you’ll need in other classes and after graduation.

They Build Problem-Solving Skills

College-level math classes are designed to give you the problem-solving skills essential for success across disciplines. These courses help you hone your ability to analyze complex problems by breaking them down into manageable components and devising practical solutions.

The structured nature of mathematical problems requires a certain level of discipline in problem-solving. You'll learn to methodically apply rules and logical reasoning to arrive at precise answers.

Furthermore, mathematical problem-solving encourages creative thinking. You're often tasked with finding multiple approaches to a single problem, which creates a mindset of using diverse perspectives to look for solutions.

You Practice Critical Thinking Skills

College math classes are often structured exercises in critical thinking skills. Mathematical problems are like cognitive puzzles that require you to assess, analyze, and strategize. Through this process, you’ll develop the ability to think critically and dissect problems logically.

As you progress from foundational algebra to advanced calculus, you'll actively engage with the material you’re given and scrutinize the logic behind mathematical concepts. This constant mental work enhances your ability to approach problems, even outside of math, with a critical thought process.

Math is the Universal Language

In the scientific community, researchers from diverse linguistic backgrounds collaborate through the language of mathematics. Whether in physics, biology, or engineering, mathematical formulations facilitate the expression of complex phenomena in a standardized manner. Learning math will help you collaborate with peers from around the world.

Promotes Financial Literacy

Proficiency in math is essential for managing personal finances effectively, from creating budgets to understanding interest rates and debt. Calculating mortgage payments, assessing investment returns, and determining the impact of inflation are all tasks that require at least a foundational understanding of math.

Mathematical concepts are also necessary if you plan to pursue a financial career. Financial professionals use mathematical models to project future trends so they can evaluate investment opportunities and optimize resource allocation. Understanding concepts like compound interest and statistical analysis is imperative for making sound financial decisions in both personal and professional contexts.

What Is a Math Requirement in College?

A math requirement in college refers to any math classes you might have to take while enrolled at your college or university in order to be eligible for graduation. This requirement may be outlined by a certain number of courses (you must complete 2 math classes), years (you must take math courses for 2 years), or credits (you must take 6 credits of math courses).

Some colleges may also have specific requirements, meaning each student has to take particular classes, like Introductory Algebra or Calculus, for example. Other colleges may have a distribution requirement, meaning you just have to take a certain number of courses or credits within the math department, but the exact courses are up to you.

Do All Colleges Require Math Courses?

While not all colleges require math courses, it’s pretty standard for most schools’ general education curriculum. Some colleges may have specific math courses you need to take, while others require only a certain number of credits from any math courses. Math and science majors, including finance and economics, will almost always have several math courses they need to take. 

However, for those majoring in liberal arts, social sciences, or humanities, there may be a specific math course for first-year students that you can take or a selection of introductory-level math classes that will fulfill your graduation requirements.

How to Complete a College Math Requirement

Many colleges will offer a selection of math courses that you can take to fulfill your requirements. As we said, for those not majoring in science or math, there will likely be introductory-level classes you can choose from.

In addition to taking classes as part of your regular schedule, see if your college will credit you for any high school Advanced Placement (AP) math classes you took. Be sure to check your college’s website or speak with an academic advisor to learn the specific AP criteria you need to complete.

Community colleges also often offer math classes that are more affordable than your regular school’s tuition. They can be taken over the summer, during winter break, or in the evenings to help you meet your 4-year institution’s math requirement. It’s important to check with your academic advisor to make sure that the credits you earn at a community college will be transferable to your school. 

Finally, online classes are an affordable, flexible option for completing gen ed math classes. StraighterLine, for example, offers the following common college-level math classes:

Get Started on General Education Requirements with StraighterLine

StraighterLine has courses that may count toward your school’s math requirements, with credits that are transferable to over 150 partner colleges and universities. With StraighterLine, you learn on your own schedule and at your own pace. Our affordable tuition includes eTextbooks and 24/7 student support, so all you need is an internet connection and a readiness to learn. 

Discover the 70+ courses offered by StraighterLine that can help you succeed in college, or check out our First Semester Course Bundle, which includes College Algebra, to help you start knocking out those prerequisite requirements and fast track your degree.

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