The curriculum and classroom experience
A primary factor to consider in choosing a school to study mathematics is the collection of courses offered and the experience in the classroom. Frequently this turns into a choice between the friendliness typically associated with a small school and the opportunities associated with a large school. SLU has the best of both worlds between the features normally associated with small schools and those associated with large schools.
Students in math at SLU can expect a student-friendly environment that one expects at a small school.
- The math courses for majors are taught with a small size and are taught by regular faculty. (Calculus classes are capped at 30 students.)
- Faculty get to know students and can give individual advice.
- Students get individually recruited for participation in math contests and other opportunities.
Like a large school’s program, math at SLU has enough breadth to let students tailor the selection of upper division math courses they take to their interests and goals.
- Students interested in pure mathematics can choose theoretical courses that provide a solid preparation for graduate school.
- Since SLU has a graduate program in mathematics, exceptional undergraduate students have the opportunity to take graduate courses mathematics.
- Students interested in applied mathematics (or science and engineering students interested in a second major in mathematics) can focus on a wide selection of more applied courses.
- Students interested in secondary school teaching can select courses that fill the requirements of the major and of a teaching certificate at the same time.
Outside the offerings of the department, SLU students have the opportunities one would expect at a comprehensive private University.
- At SLU, a comprehensive liberal arts core prepares students with a well-rounded education. (This is routinely viewed as a big plus by employers.)
- The curriculum allows space so that students either add a second major or concentration to add context to their degree or to add significant extra coursework in mathematics.
- Many job opportunities in mathematics concern mathematics in a particular setting. At SLU, one can prepare for those careers with a minor or coursework:
- Finance, operations research, or actuarial science (Mathematics and business)
- Secondary education (Mathematics and education)
- Bioinformatics (Mathematics, computer science, and biology)
- Cryptography (Mathematics and computer science)
- Similarly, many graduate programs look for a preparation of mathematics and a second field. At SLU, one can prepare for those careers:
- Finance and operations research (Mathematics and business)
- Computational science
- Cryptography and computer security
- Study abroad - SLU has a campus in Madrid and a robust collection of study abroad programs that fit well in the academic structure.
A big factor to weigh in choosing schools is the faculty in the major department. The faculty members in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at SLU are leaders, both in teaching and in research.
For an undergraduate, teaching has a more immediate impact.
- Nine members of the department have won awards for their teaching, either at the college, the state, or the national level.
- A number of faculty members are involved in innovative projects to develop teaching materials and methods for the national mathematics community. The projects cover the full range of courses, from the freshman level, to graduate level.
- All of the faculty are regularly involved in teaching both upper and lower level courses.
As a student moves deeper into the major, the research of the faculty becomes important, with the leading edge research enlivening the teaching. The faculty are also leaders in research, publishing in leading journals, and invited to give addresses on their scholarly work, both nationally and internationally. The department has research groups in algebra, analysis, geometry, and topology.
Opportunities at SLU outside the classroom
Rumor has it, that students do some things at college other than simply go to class.
Our math graduates
A final concern in evaluating a program at a school is asking what happens to its graduates. As might be expected, we have a steady stream that move on to graduate programs in mathematics at excellent schools. We also have a stream of students who go directly to jobs, as teachers, actuaries, and consultants. What may be surprising is that we also have a steady stream of students who move on to law or medical school, or who use an undergraduate degree in mathematics to prepare for a graduate program in a more applied field.