Department of Mathematics

Information on Basic Mathematics Courses

WARNING: Since rules, regulations and courses are constantly changing, the information on basic mathematics courses in this section may not be completely accurate. Please, check with the undergraduate director for the most current information in this section.

The Basic University Mathematics Graduation Requirement:

A student may meet the mathematics requirement by

a) Obtaining a Mathematics Placement Service exam score of at least 19 on a proctored exam.

or b) Completing one of the following at MSU:

  • One course from among MTH 110, MTH 112, MTH 116, MTH 124, MTH 132, MTH 152H, and MTH 201
  • Both MTH 103 and MTH 114
  • Either STT200 or STT201

or c) Obtaining transfer credit at MSU for any of the choices in part b).

The Mathematics Placement Service (MPS):

Both a sample and an unproctored version of the actual Mathematics Placement Service Examination (MPS Exam) are available here on the World Wide Web. Admitted students who are not yet on campus may write the unproctored version at most twice before arriving on campus. For further details, please visit the exam site.

New students who wish to write the proctored version of the MPS Exam may do so either at one of several testing sites around Michigan or during their on-campus visit for Academic Orientation. (All newly admitted students receive detailed information about this by mail.) Newly admitted students who have already taken the unproctored exam twice still may take the proctored exam during their Academic Orientation Program.

For detailed information on who MUST take the exam, click here.

Students who, for any reason, either are currently enrolled or have been enrolled at MSU may write only the proctored MPS Exam, and, to obtain permission to do so, they must petition the Office of the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Mathematics (5-9683). Outside of the summer AOP sessions, the proctored version of the MPS Exam is administered on campus by the Testing Office (5-8385) in the Student Services Building.

A student's score on the MPS Exam indicates the course in mathematics which that student should initially elect.

MTH 1825:

Intermediate Algebra: MTH 1825 is a 3 credit course in remedial mathematics. Any student who obtains a score of 7 or below on the MPS Exam should elect MTH 1825. In addition, a student who obtains a score of 8 or 9 on the MPS Exam, but whose ACT Elementary Algebra subscore is below 12 should also elect MTH 1825. The grade in MTH 1825 will be included in the computation of the GPA, but the credit hours may not be applied towards graduation.

MTH 103:

College Algebra: MTH 103 is a 3 credit hour, one semester course.

MTH 110

College Algebra & Finite Math: MTH 110 will allow less technically oriented students to complete their University mathematics requirement within one 5 credit single semester course, by studying more universally applicable topics at a somewhat more relaxed pace.

MTH 112

Finite Mathematics : Applications of College Algebra: MTH 112 is a 3 credit terminal course covering a variety of topics. This course is designed to complete the University mathematics requirement for non-technical majors. It is open to students who either have completed MTH 103 successfully or have an MPS Exam score of at least 15.

MTH 114

Trigonometry: MTH 114 is 3 credit one semester course. In combination with MTH 103 (only), MTH 114 completes the University mathematics graduation requirement. Together, these two courses cover roughly the same material as MTH 116; so, together, they can provide suitable preparation for MTH 132.

MTH 114 is available to students who have completed MTH 103 or equivalent with a grade of at least 2.0. (Athough a student with a grade of 1.0 or 1.5 in MTH 103 may elect MTH 114, only the stronger MTH 103 students should do so!) MTH 114 is only a bridge course between MTH 103 and the technical calculus sequence. It cannot be elected on the basis of an MPS Exam score.

MTH 116

College Algebra & Trigonometry: MTH 116 is a pre-calculus course, which offers a fast-paced one semester (5 credit) preparation for the technical calculus. This course is designed specifically to prepare students for the technical calculus sequence (MTH 132, MTH 133, etc.). Students who do not plan to elect this calculus sequence will be better served by other courses.

MTH 124

Survey of Calculus with Applications I: MTH 124 is a 3 credit one semester course. This is a 'Harvard Calculus' course, designed for students who are entering less technical fields. An MPS Exam score of at least 15 or completion of MTH 103 with a grade of at least 2.0 is sufficient for admission to MTH 124.

MTH 132, MTH 152H

Calculus I: These provide technical calculus for the hard sciences and engineering: As the first course in a multi-course sequence, MTH 132 is a 3 credit one semester course. An MPS Exam score of at least 19 or completion of either MTH 114 or MTH 116 with a grade of at least 1.0 is sufficient (but at least 2.0 is strongly recommended!) for admission to MTH 132. MTH 152H is the honors version of MTH 132. In addition to the prerequisites for MTH 132, either admission to the Honors College or approval of the Mathematics Department is required for MTH 152H.

MTH 201 and MTH 202:

Mathematical Investigations I & II: MTH 201 and MTH 202 are required of all elementary education majors, and are available only to that population. Either an MPS Exam score of at least 15 or the successful completion of MTH 103 with a grade of at least 1.0 is the prerequisite for MTH 201, and the successful completion MTH 201 with a grade of at least 1.0 is the prerequisite for MTH 202. Successful completion of MTH 201 fulfills the University mathematics requirement.

Here are some further comments about these courses:

MTH 103, MTH 110 and MTH 116

MTH 103 and MTH 116 are "associates" of one another. A student can receive credit for only one of these courses, and either course may be used to replace a repeatable grade (1.5 or less) earned in the other.

Effective as of the Summer of 2002, MTH 110 is no longer an associate of MTH 103 or MTH116.

Either an MPS Exam score of at least 10 or the completion of MTH 1825 with a grade of at least 1.0 is sufficient for admission to either MTH 103 or MTH 110. An MPS Exam score of at least 12 is required for admission to MTH 116. Although it is possible to elect MTH 116 after the completion of MTH 1825, experience suggests that only the strongest students should consider doing so.

A student whose MPS Exam score is either 8 or 9, and whose ACT Elementary Algebra subscore is at least 12 must choose to elect either MTH 1825 or MTH 103. (No other associates of MTH 103 are available to these students.)

MTH 124, MTH 132, and MTH 152H:

MTH 132 and MTH 152H are "associates" of one another. A student can receive credit for only one of these courses, and either course may be used to replace a repeatable grade (1.5 or less) earned in the other.

MTH 124 is associated with MTH 132 and MTH 152H only in a very restricted sense. First, students may take MTH 124 but decide later to take either MTH 132 or MTH 152H, and, in doing so, they will retain their credit for MTH 124. Second, while MTH 124 can be used to replace a repeatable grade in MTH 132 or MTH 152H, the reverse is NOT true: a repeatable grade in MTH 124 can ONLY be replaced by re-taking MTH 124.

Graphing Calculators:

Skill in the use of a graphing calculator is required in all precalculus courses and also in MTH 124. In all other mathematics courses, the decision to use calculators is optional: the instructor may choose either to require them or to deny their use. At present our precalculus instructors are supplied with Texas Instruments' TI 83+ graphing calculator (the '+' is quite important, because it signifies that some of the bugs present in the original TI 83 have been fixed). A student may use any graphing calculator which is equivalent to the TI 83+; however, because of classroom time limitations, most in-class demonstrations are given only on the TI 83+. Students who choose to use another machine, but do not know how to use it at the start of the course, should expect to have to spend significant extra time in reading their calculator's manual and in seeking help outside of the classroom. In addition, for particular courses, the Department or the instructor may place limits on the strength of the calculators that may be used for graded work: in some courses, the use of certain calculator models may be specifically prohibited.