Mathematics and Statistics Course Information for First Year Students.

Please keep the following advice in mind:

  • When choosing between a harder course and an easier course, we suggest you try the harder course for a few days. It is much easier to move from a harder course to an easier course than from an easier course to a harder course.

  • If you are planning to take a Calculus course at any point during your time at Colby, we recommend that you take it during your first semester here.

  • For additional reasons to take a math course, check out our webpage!

Below you will find information on:
[Return to Information for New Students .]

Mathematics and Statistics course requirements by major.

Several departments require one or more mathematics courses for fulfillment of their departmental majors or minors. If you are interested in a particular subject you should thoroughly read the section in the Colby Course Catalogue that details the requirements for a major or a minor in that subject. Below we reproduce some of the mathematics requirements for majors in various subjects. Read the information below in tandem with the course catalog, not as a substitute! Clicking on the name of the department opens that department's catalogue entry in a new window.

  • Biology
    Major requires Mathematics 102 or 121 or 161 or equivalent; one additional course chosen from 122, 162, SC 212, 253 or Computer Science 151 is also required.

  • Chemistry.
    Major requires one year of calculus. Any of the following combinations will satisfy the mathematics requirements for a Chemistry major: 121 and 122; 101, 102, and 122; 161 and 122; 161 and 162.

  • Computer Science.
    Major requires one course chosen from SC 212, SC 231, MA 253, or MA 274 (but many have prerequisites).

  • Economics.
    Major requires Mathematics 121 or 161 or equivalent. In addition, MA 381/ SC 382 will fulfill the requirement for EC 293. There is also a joint major in Mathematics and Economics (listed under Economics) that requires Mathematics 122 or 162, 253, 311, and an additional upper-level elective course.

  • Geology.
    Major requires MA 122 or SC 212

  • Physics.
    Major requires four of the following courses: Mathematics 102, 121, or 161; 122 or 162; 253; 262; 311; Computer Science 151.

  • Environmental Science
    This major requires MA 121 and SC 212 or 231; or MA 121 and 122.

  • Mathematics.
    A year of calculus is required to begin. Mathematics 253 and 274 generally follow calculus, with more advanced courses coming later. Read more about the Mathematics majors and minor.

Any major requirement of Mathematics 121 is also satisfied by taking
Mathematics 101 and 102, Math 122, or Math 161.


The Quantitative Reasoning (Q) requirement.

Most first-year mathematics courses satisfy the "Quantitative Reasoning" distribution requirement. However, so do some courses in Philosophy, Computer Science and elsewhere. These courses are indicated by a "Q" in the course catalogue and can be searched for specifically using Curriculum Search on the Registrar's webpage.


Calculus courses at Colby

  • MA101. The Math 101/102 sequence is equivalent to Math 121. This two-course sequence is designed to serve the needs of calculus students who are weak in algebra and trigonometry. The slower pace of Math 101/102 allows students to acquire or strengthen these necessary skills along with the calculus and then move on to Math 122. It is expected that all students who take Math 101 in the fall will also take Math 102 the following January. Math 101 alone does not satisfy any major or college requirement.

  • MA121. This is the beginning of the mainstream calculus sequence. Its main goal is to lead students to a sufficient grasp of the concepts of the calculus allied with computational skills. Students continuing their study of mathematics normally choose 122 after this course.

  • MA122. This is the choice of students who have had a year of calculus in high school, have done well, and are mainly interested in the applications, rather than the intellectual foundations, of calculus. This course presumes that students know the basics of integration and differentiation and the fundamental transcendental functions (sine, cosine, exponential, and logarithm). Students continuing their study of mathematics normally choose 253, 274, or 262 after this course.

  • MA161. This is the first course of the honors calculus sequence at Colby. It is a synthesized approach to the calculus of one and several variables presented as a deductive mathematical theory, with emphasis on concepts, theorems and their proofs. This is an ambitious choice and almost all students who enter this course have taken and done well in a full year of calculus in high school. Students continuing their study of mathematics normally choose Math 162 after this course. Many continuing students choose to take Math 253 or Math 274 in addition to Math 162 after this course.

Statistics and other non-calculus courses

  • [SC110.] Not offered 2014-2015. An elementary statistics course designed for those who want an introduction to statistics, but do not need a more rigorous course for the sciences or economics. Satisfies the "Q" requirement.

  • MA111. A liberal arts math course that examines both the nature of mathematics and the historical and contemporary role of mathematics in our culture. Satisfies the "Q" requirement.

  • SC212. An elementary statistics course designed primarily for the sciences. This course is in high demand by upper class science majors who will constitute all of its population in the fall. First-year students will not be admitted in the fall and are instead encouraged to take Mathematics 101, 121, 122 or 161 and sign up for SC212 at a later time (usually as a sophomore).

  • SC231. An elementary statistics and regression analysis course that requires knowledge of calculus. This class will likely not be offered in the future. Students should instead consider SC 212 or, if majoring in Economics, should consult with the Economics Department as to the approriate course to take and when it should be taken.

  • MA253 or MA274. These are both very ambitious choices that do make sense for some incoming students. However, MA 161 or MA 122 is the better choice for most students. If you are considering either MA253 or MA274, please come see us during the orientation period to talk about it.