Mathematics at St. Olaf
Practical - Popular - Visible - Active - Useful - Fun
Mathematics is all of those things--and more--at St. Olaf, where the mathematics program is recognized nationally for innovative and effective teaching. Our program was cited as an example of a successful undergraduate mathematics program by the Mathematical Association of America (Models That Work, Case Studies in Effective undergraduate Mathematics Programs) and St. Olaf ranks sixth in the nation as a producer of students who went on to complete Ph.D.'s in the mathematical sciences (Report on Undergraduate Origins of Recent [1991-95] Science and Engineering Doctorate Recipients).
One department, three programs
The St. Olaf Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science houses three programs, described briefly below. Click the links for further information and details.
Students arrange majors in mathematics by individual contracts that include both course work and independent mathematical activity. Contracts normally include seven courses beyond linear algebra, balanced to represent analytic, axiomatic, and applied mathematics. Independent activities include tutoring, attending colloquia, grading papers, computer consulting, internships, and undergraduate research.
This concentration enables students to pursue statistics either as a primary interest or as a supplement to some other major. The statistics concentration - including course work in both theoretical and applied statistics - may be attached to any major. Typically, about 12-15 students complete a statistics concentration each year.
A computer science major was begun recently; the first graduates completed the program in 2005. (A computer science concentration was offered for many years previously.)
Areas of emphasis
Mathematics students choose various areas of emphasis:
- Preparation for Graduate School Advanced courses provide breadth and depth for students intending to pursue graduate degrees in the mathematical sciences. Seminars and independent study provide opportunities for research-like experiences.
- Applied Mathematics Courses offered in applied mathematics include statistics, computer science, differential equations, and optimization. The Mathematics Practicum has student teams working to solve real problems in industry and business.
- Secondary School Teaching Students planning to teach secondary school mathematics complete a standard mathematics major (with certain courses prescribed by state certification requirements). In addition, they take several courses in the Department of Education and devote part of one senior semester to student teaching. In recent years, St. Olaf has averaged 10-12 students each year who receive certification in teaching high school mathematics.
Students and Graduates
- More than 120 upper-class mathematics majors
- 75% of St. Olaf students take calculus
- 8-10% of St. Olaf graduates are mathematics majors
- 45% of St. Olaf Mathematics majors are women
- 50+ students employed as tutors or paper graders
- Daily "Mathematics Clinic" for homework help.
- Opportunities for work as computer assistants and system programmers.
- 30% graduate school: 20% in mathematical science; 10% in other sciences
- 15% professional programs (business, law, medicine, etc.)
- 10% secondary school teaching
- 35% business and industry
- 10% other
- Cray Research
- Peace Corps
- The St. Paul Companies
- CSC Consulting
- Anderson Consulting
- Lutheran Brotherhood
- Target Corporation
- Northwest Airlines
- Best Buy Corporation
- Mayo Clinic
Graduate schools attended by alumni (a sample)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (mathematics)
- Stanford (statistics, operations research)
- Minnesota (mathematics, computer science)
- Wisconsin (algebra, computer science, topology)
- Illinois (number theory, computer science)
- Clemson (applied mathematics)
- Courant Institute of NYU (applied mathematics)
- Iowa State (applied statistics, computer science)</li>
Doctorates received by alumni in various areas:
- Computer Science
St Olaf has about 20 mathematics faculty; about half are women. Nearly all hold doctorates in the mathematical sciences, and have expertise in areas including the following: Template:1x2 Table