Mathematics for the Arts & Sciences Student

Overview of Distribution Requirements

Visit the College of Arts and Sciences web site for a complete explanation of the college’s degree requirements. We provide here an overview of the math-related distribution requirements. Both the Courses of Study catalog and the university class roster are searchable by distribution code.

Students who matriculated into the College of Arts & Sciences before Fall 2020 are required to take four courses from the following groups:

  • Physical & Biological Sciences (PBS-AS/PBSS-AS)
  • Mathematics & Quantitative Reasoning (MQR-AS)

At least two courses must be from PBS and at least one from MQR. Students may choose two MQR courses provided they have no significant overlap.

Students who matriculate in Fall 2020 or after must take one course in each of these groups:

  • Symbolic and Mathematical Reasoning (SMR-AS)
  • Statistics and Data Science (SDS-AS)

Undergraduate courses with a MATH prefix may be used for the MQR and SMR requirements, with just a few exceptions.  MATH 1101, MATH 1890, academic support courses, and independent study courses may not be used.  MATH 1710 may be used for the MQR requirement but under the new requirements is classified as an SDS course rather than SMR.

Advanced Placement and Transfer Credit Policy

AP credit (including IB and A-Level credits) may not be used to meet distribution requirements.

Current Cornell students may not use transfer credit for any distribution requirement but may use transferred courses to satisfy course prerequisites. External transfer students will receive a credit evaluation from the college that identifies the courses that will fulfill college requirements.

Alternatives to Calculus

Students whose majors do not require calculus have other options for fulfilling the MQR or SMR requirement, including the following courses:

Finite Mathematics

MATH 1105 - Finite Mathematics for the Life and Social Sciences

Computer Programming

CS 1110 - Introduction to Computing Using Python
CS 1112 - Introduction to Computing Using MATLAB
CS 2110 - Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures

Other Alternatives to Calculus

MATH 1300 - Mathematical Explorations
MATH 1340 - Strategy, Cooperation, and Conflict
MATH 2310 - Linear Algebra with Applications

Introductory Statistics

Cornell offers several introductory statistics courses, including MATH 1710 - Statistical Theory and Application to the Real World. MATH 1710 can be used toward the MQR requirement for students who matriculated before Fall 2020 or the SDS requirement for students matriculating Fall 2020 or later.

Two-Semester Programs

For students who expect to take no more than two semesters of math, two semesters of calculus are usually not the best choice.  A broader view of the subject can be gained from one semester of calculus and one of the alternative courses listed above.

Summer Session

Students who find mathematics to be especially challenging may benefit from taking a course during summer session, when attention can be focused on a single course.

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