Handbook for Majors
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
University of Missouri-Rolla

Students who complete a major in mathematics at UMR will be well-prepared for careers that require problem-solving and creative thinking abilities. Whether your goal is to work in business or industry, teach in a secondary school, or pursue graduate study, a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from UMR can give you a sound base on which to build your professional life. Since a mathematics degree has a lot of flexibility, you need to plan your course of study with your career goals in mind. This handbook describes some of the programs that are possible.

One of the most important aspects of any mathematics degree is the development of problem-solving and creative thinking abilities. A closely related and equally important goal is to be able to function as an independent learner, of mathematics certainly, but also of other areas. One of the differences between a university degree and technical training is that the university degree should indicate the capability to solve creatively problems that have not even been thought of yet, while technical training is more concerned with standard procedures for known problems. Technical training is important and necessary, but the people who can learn on their own and apply their knowledge to new situations have a distinct advantage.

Departmental Advisers

Every mathematics major at UMR has an academic adviser in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. For the first year, the department's freshman adviser fills this role; later, another adviser may be assigned, based on the student's interests. Anyone seeking a dual major in mathematics and some other field will have both a mathematics adviser and also an adviser in the other department. All students should get to know their advisers and consult with them regularly in order to plan a well-thought-out program of study based on the student's goals and abilities. UMR has instituted a computer-based procedure for determining your status with respect to degree requirements called the CAPS reports. Be sure to consult your adviser early and often about these reports in order to ensure that you are making satisfactory progress toward graduation.

Degree Requirements  for a complete list of the degree requirements for students beginning their undergraduate education Fall 1997 or later follow this link.  If you began your college education before the fall semester 1997 your degree requirements will be slightly different, contact the mathematics department for specifics.

What can you do with a Mathematics Degree besides teach? Plenty!

As a UMR graduate with a mathematics degree, however, you have to get that first job in business or industry before you can exhibit your valuable creative problem-solving abilities. This means planning your mathematics and technical electives so that you look good to industry, and it also means that you might have to be more aggressive when looking for a job in order to convince the company of your choice that you will do as well or better than the engineering or business majors they usually recruit.  To help students with this the Mathematics and Statistics Department has defined five Emphasis Areas.  They are Actuarial Sciences, Algebra/Discrete Mathematics, Applied Analysis, Computational Mathematics, and Statistics.  Theses emphasis areas attempt to fit the desires and interests of the student with the needs of industry.  A student seeking a Bachelor's Degree in Applied Mathematics is not required to have an emphasis area.  Those students who apply for and complete the requirements of an emphasis area will have this accomplishment noted on their diploma.

To further prepare for life after college a student should consider participating in the Cooperative Training Program (co-op). In addition to earning money, co-op students gain valuable experience in business or industry. Details can be found in the UMR Undergraduate Catalog. Be on the lookout for opportunities to participate in research projects in mathematics or in areas which apply mathematics. This includes all the science and engineering departments on campus. UMR has an Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Program, and there are other opportunities for undergraduates to become involved in research as well. Ask questions and look around.

Preparation for Graduate Study. Any of the possible options for the B.S. in Applied Mathematics at UMR can lead to successful graduate study for students who exhibit the necessary mathematical maturity and sophistication. In a recent survey of the top mathematics graduate programs in the nation, 95% rated real analysis or advanced calculus courses as essential or highly recommended preparation for their programs; a year of Advanced Calculus (Math 309, 311) is required at UMR. In addition, the Modern Algebra sequence (Math 305, 306), Introduction to Real Analysis (Math 315), and Introduction to Topology (Math 385) are strongly recommended to build a substantial base in classical mathematics. These four courses also fulfill the mathematics electives 6-hour sequence requirements.

Secondary Education. A mathematics degree together with certification to teach mathematics in elementary or secondary schools in Missouri can be obtained at UMR. Careful planning of electives is essential for students in this program, since a number of professional education requirements for teacher certification must be met. A sample program is available.  The total number of hours in this program is slightly more than the minimum required for graduation, but with a degree from UMR, your mathematics preparation will be exceptionally strong.  The Elementary and Secondary Education program coordinator is:
Prof. Evalee Lasater.

Organizations and Special Programs

Kappa Mu Epsilon. Kappa Mu Epsilon is a national mathematics honor society for the advancement of mathematics and related fields. The membership criteria are: and either The social activities of KME include a picnic, usually held near the beginning of the fall semester, and a banquet each semester. In addition, KME maintains a tutoring room where students can get help with mathematics homework in courses through the calculus sequence.

Mathematical Association of America Student Chapter. The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) is the world's largest organization devoted to the interests of collegiate mathematics. MAA student chapters, including the one at UMR, are open to any undergraduate student - the only requirement for membership is interest in mathematics. The cost of membership is reasonable and includes a subscription to one of the MAA journals: The American Mathematical Monthly, The College Mathematics Journal, or Mathematics Magazine. Benefits of membership include opportunities to meet other students with similar interests, contact with the mathematics community, lectures, films, and discussions about mathematics and its applications, career information, and the opportunity to fill a leadership role. For information about becoming a member of the UMR Chapter, ask in the Mathematics and Statistics Department office.

William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is conducted annually under the sponsorship of the Mathematical Association of America, and is designed to stimulate a healthy rivalry in the undergraduate work of mathematics departments in U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities. Students compete as individuals or members of a three person team representing their institution. Prizes are awarded to the members of the top five teams and their schools and to the ten highest ranking individuals. The examination is usually held in November or December. On the 1991 Putnam Exam, a UMR mathematics major was in the top five nationally. As part of the department's capstone courses, Math 361 - Problem Solving in Pure Mathematics, is designed in part to prepare students to participate in the William Lowell Putnam Competition.

Mathematical Competition in Modeling. The Mathematical Competition in Modeling is a national contest for undergraduates designed to stimulate and improve problem-solving and writing skills in a team setting. Students work together in teams of three over a weekend. The problems chosen for the competition and the cooperative effort required for their solution serve as an indication of what students can expect in a work environment. Problems will tend to be open-ended and are unlikely to have a unique solution. Prizes are awarded by various professional societies, and some prizes include an opportunity for the winning teams to present their solutions at a professional meeting. The competition is usually held in late February or early March. As part of the department's capstone courses, Math 371 - Problem Solving in Applied Mathematics, is designed in part to prepare students to participate in the Mathematical Competition in Modeling.

The Annual End-of-Fall-Semester Party! This is a chance to meet socially with other mathematics majors and the faculty. Watch for details each fall.

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

Extensive information regarding the scholarships and financial assistance which is administered by the campus financial aid office can be found in the UMR Undergraduate Catalog. One such fund that potential mathematics majors should know about is the Helen Barrett fund, which specifically names mathematics as one of the targeted majors (Mrs. Barrett was a high school mathematics teacher). For this fund, preference will be given to students from the Mehlville school district. In addition to the campus-wide aid, a few scholarship funds are administered by the Mathematics and Statistics Department for mathematics majors. The amounts of these scholarships normally range from $250 to $500 each.  These scholarships are for continuing mathematics majors, scholarships for entering freshman are handled in concert with the campus financial aid office.  Announcements of availability of application material is made each fall via electronic maillings to mathematics majors as well as postings on departmental bulletin boards.  Selection is based on academic achievement, participation in departmental activities, and need. The funds are:
The Gary Havener Scholarship Fund
The Robert Eck Scholarship Fund
The Faculty Scholarship Fund
The Alumni Scholarship Fund

The Mathematics and Statistics Department, its Faculty, and its Graduates

The department of Mathematics and Statistics at UMR offers degree programs in Applied Mathematics at the B.S. and M.S. levels, the M.S for Teachers, and the Ph.D. in Mathematics. In addition to these programs, the department provides critical support for UMR's mission as Missouri's Technological University, since nearly all science and engineering students here take two years or more of mathematics. The department strives to maintain an environment that enhances the learning of mathematics and contributes to the vitality of mathematics as a living discipline through course offerings, seminars and colloquia, research, and public service.

The faculty in the department are committed to maintaining high-quality instruction. Our placement program (for all UMR students, not only mathematics majors) has a good, proven track record and benefits the students by putting them into the proper mathematics course at the beginning of their stay at UMR. As a result, our success rate in the calculus course is the envy of most mathematics departments nationwide, where failure rates in calculus of 50% or more are a cause of much concern. We are heavily involved in incorporating modern technology into our curriculum, and require the use of the HP48G graphing calculator in college algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Also, we use sophisticated computer algebra systems, such as Maple and Mathematica, which have state-of-the-art graphics and symbolic manipulation features, in some of our courses. Our statistics courses employ the latest statistics software. Since the beginning of UMR's assessment program, our undergraduate majors have performed quite well on national assessment examinations, with over half of our students in the top quartile. A number of our faculty and graduate teaching assistants have won outstanding teacher awards.

Most of the faculty also maintain their own and the department's professional development through publication of research, speaking at and organizing conferences, and filling leadership roles in professional organizations. The high-quality instruction, mentioned above, and the research activity of the faculty are the principal components of the department's respected graduate program, which has produced many M.S. students and over 40 Ph.D. students. Many of our M.S. and Ph.D. graduates hold academic, government, or industrial positions across the country, from Texas to Minnesota and Maine to California, with, of course, a large concentration in Missouri and surrounding states.

UMR graduates with the B.S. degree in Applied Mathematics can be found in a wide variety of situations. Roughly a third of our graduates go on to pursue a graduate degree in either mathematics or a related field at such universities as Illinois, Wisconsin, California-Berkeley, Kansas, Iowa State, Duke, Tennessee, Rice, Cornell, and others, and some continue at UMR for an advanced degree. The rest of our B.S. graduates go into industry or teaching at the high school level. We have graduates teaching high school in Missouri and many nearby states, and UMR mathematics graduates can be found at General Motors, Southwestern Bell, Boeing-McDonnell Douglass, Western Electric, Peabody Coal, Hallmark Cards, NASA (one graduate is an astronaut), the CIA, NSA, Caterpillar Tractor, Hughes Aircraft, and Phillips Petroleum, among others.

The department has an annual newsletter, through which departmental alumni and friends can keep up with what others are doing, and find out about developments "back home" at UMR.

Department of Mathematics and Statistics
This web page was last updated April 4, 2000.
Robert Roe (rroe@umr.edu)