This page contains various department policies. In general, these are created, discussed, modified and voted on by department faculty during department meetings.

The previous version of this page is here

Policies for Students in Mathematics Courses
  Policies about the Capstone Experience
Policies Regarding Faculty and Hiring

Credit for Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus Courses, International Baccalaureate (IB) math, and A-level math

Last Reviewed February 7, 2008

  1. Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus
    1. A student with a score of 4 or 5 on the BC Advanced Placement Examination earns credit for Mathematics 105 and Mathematics 106 (Calculus I & II).
    2. A student with a score of 4 or 5 for the AB Sub-score of the BC Advanced Placement Examination earns credit for Mathematics 105 (Calculus I).
    3. A student with a score of 4 or 5 on the AB Advanced Placement Examination earns credit for Mathematics 105 (Calculus I).

  2. International Baccalaureate (IB) math
    1. Each higher level (HL) math course earns 1 credit for a score of 5 and 2 credits for a score of 6 or 7.
    2. A subsidiary level (SL) math course earns 1 credit for a score of 6 or 7.
    3. The first IB math credit counts for Math 105, the second for Math 106, and any additional credit is considered as an unspecified credit.

  3. A-level math
    1. A grade of A in A-level mathematics earns credit for Math 105 and Math 106.
    2. A grade of B or C in A-level mathematics earns credit for Math 105.
    3. No credit is earned for O-level or AS-level mathematics.

  4. Double Counting of Credit
    1. No double-counting of credit from AP, IB, or A-level math is allowed.

Credit for Transfer Courses

Last Reviewed October 1, 2003

The Mathematics Department does not approve for graduation credit such courses as pre-calculus, college algebra, or other courses at a level below those taught at Bates.

Credit for Pass/Fail Courses and Units

Last Reviewed April 29, 1999

If a student elects to take a course or unit with the Pass/Fail option, that course or unit may not be used to fulfill the requirements of the Mathematics Major or the Secondary Concentration (Class of 2009 or earlier) or Minor (class of 2010 or later) in Mathematics.

Course Scheduling Patterns

Last Reviewed February 5, 2008

Mathematics Department courses are typically offered according to the following schedule.

  1. Each semester: 105, 106, 205, 206
  2. Each fall: FYS, 301, 314
  3. Each winter: 219, 309, 395
  4. Every four semesters: 155, 218, 308, 312, 313, 341
  5. Schedule varies: 101, 110, 315, 365

Major Requirements in Mathematics

Last Reviewed November 27, 2001

The mathematics major requirements accommodate a wide variety of interests and career goals. The courses provide broad training in undergraduate mathematics, preparing majors for graduate study and for positions in government, industry, and the teaching profession.

The major in mathematics consists of:

  1. Mathematics 205 and 206;
  2. Mathematics s21, which is ideally taken during Short Term of the first year;
  3. Mathematics 301 and 309, which should be taken before beginning a senior thesis or the senior seminar;
  4. four elective mathematics courses numbered 200 or higher, but not including 360, 395, 457, or 458;
  5. successful completion of either Mathematics 395 Senior Seminar or Mathematics 457 Senior Thesis. The thesis option requires departmental approval.
Any mathematics Short Term unit numbered 30 or above, excluding s50 Independent Study, may be used as one of the electives in (4). One elective may also be replaced by a departmentally approved course from another department.

Major Courses Taken Outside the Department

Last Reviewed January 11, 2008

Of the nine courses (205, 206, 301, 309, s21, and four electives) required for the mathematics major, up to four may be taken at other institutions, in off-campus study programs, or in other Bates departments. These courses are subject to these limitations:

  1. At least one of 301 Real Analysis and 309 Abstract Algebra must be completed at Bates.
  2. s21 Introduction to Abstraction must be completed at Bates.
  3. At least two of the four elective mathematics courses must be taken in the Bates Mathematics Department.

Elective Credit for Bates Courses Outside the Department

Last Reviewed September 24, 1997

According to the College Catalog: "One elective may also be replaced by a departmentally approved course from another department." The following courses have been approved as electives for the major:

  1. Economics 255. Econometrics.
  2. Physics 301. Mathematical Methods of Physics.
A student may petition the Department for approval of other courses.

Computation of the GPA in the Major

Last Reviewed March 24, 2004

The GPA of a mathematics major is computed using all grades earned by the major in Bates courses (at the 200-level or above) and units (at the 20-level or above) listed in the Catalog under Mathematics.

Minor (Class of 2010 and later) or Secondary Concentration (Class of 2009 and earlier) Requirements in Mathematics

Last Reviewed February 25, 2004

Faculty legislation states: Students graduating in 1997 and thereafter may earn a secondary concentration in mathematics. The secondary concentration shall consist of seven courses or units designated by the Department of Mathematics and published in the College Catalog. Starting with the Class of 2010, this will be called a minor.

Explanation: Of the seven courses or units required for the concentration/minor, four must be the following or their equivalent:

      105 Calculus I       106 Calculus II       205 Linear Algebra       206 Multivariable Calculus

      The 105/106 requirement may be fulfilled by successful completion of 206.

The other three courses must be mathematics courses at the 150-level or above (or units at the 20-level or above). At least one of these three must be taken at Bates. Note: even though certain Bates courses from outside the Mathematics Department can be used as electives for the major (currently Physics 301 or Economics 255) they (or any other Bates courses from outside the Bates Mathematics Department) do not count toward the concentration/minor.

We recommend that you think carefully about taking three courses with a common theme. Here are some possible groupings:

  • Analysis: 218 Numerical Analysis, 301 Real Analysis, 308 Complex Analysis;
  • Geometry: 312 Foundations of Geometry, 313 Topology;
  • Mathematical Biology: 155 Mathematical Models in Biology, 219 Differential Equations, 341 Mathematical Modeling;
  • Actuarial Science: 314 Probability, 218 Numerical Analysis, 315 Statistics;
  • Statistics: 301 Real Analysis, 314 Probability, 315 Statistics;
  • Applied/Engineering Mathematics: 219 Differential Equations, 308 Complex Analysis, 218 Numerical Analysis, 341 Mathematical Modeling.
  • Computational Mathematics: 218 Numerical Analysis, 365D Graph Algorithms, 365E Computers and Abstract Mathematics, 365F Dynamical Systems and Computer Science

Note that some of the courses in the groups above have prerequisites that are not listed.

Interfacing Courses with Student Teaching

Last Reviewed January 11, 2008

There are particular issues for students seeking certification to teach mathematics in secondary school, one of which is scheduling. There are two scheduling issues for Mathematics courses to be aware of, particularly since student teaching takes place in the Winter Semester and requires three course credits in the Education Department.

  1. The Mathematics major requires that each major successfully complete 309 Abstract Algebra. We teach this course only during the Winter Semester. Because it is often not possible to take 309 at the same time as student teaching, students wishing to student teach should complete 309 during the Winter Semester of sophomore or junior year.
  2. The Mathematics major also requires that each major have a capstone experience. The best options for student teachers are typically a one-semester thesis completed in the Fall Semester, or the Senior Seminar. When a student teacher will take the Senior Seminar, the department takes care to schedule the Senior Seminar in the afternoon so that the times will not conflict with student teaching.

Independent Study

Last Reviewed April 7, 2008

A student who wishes to enroll in 360 Independent Study or s50 Individual Research should begin planning before or during the Preregistration Period and must do the following.

  1. Obtain from the Registrar the required application form and read both sides.
  2. Meet with a potential instructor for the course or unit and discuss:
    1. the willingness of the instructor to direct the project and
    2. what to put on the form, including a carefully considered title and description of the project.
  3. Submit the completed form to the Department Chair no later than the last day of the Preregistration Period.

The Department will meet to discuss the application, and then take one of the following actions:

  1. Approve the proposal, after which the Chair will sign it and return it to the student.
  2. Deny the proposal.
  3. Return the proposal to the student for modification.

If the department approves the proposal, either immediately or after modification, the student then brings the proposal to the Office of the Registrar and completes the registration process.

The student and advisor will see that:

  1. The project results in a tangible product, as required by the College policy on Independent Study. In most cases the product will be a paper.
  2. Before the end of the semester the student makes a presentation on the project before the Department and its students. This may be in the form of a poster presentation or a seminar presentation.
  3. A copy of the final product of the project is retained by the Department for future reference by students and faculty.

Mathematics Courses 360 and s50 do not count as electives in satisfying the requirements for either the mathematics major or the mathematics minor.

The Capstone Experience

Last Reviewed March 2010

The objective of the capstone experience in the Mathematics Major at Bates College is to establish and reinforce a culture of mathematical research among our majors and faculty. Our expectation is to increase seniors' "mathematical maturity", which is seen in many ways as students

  • learn to work independently
  • see connections across various mathematical disciplines
  • interact with others to solve mathematics problems
  • present the results of their work at talks, meetings and poster sessions
  • write mathematics in a clear, professional style which captures the reader's interest
  • explain mathematics comfortably to a variety of audiences

While the capstone experience can be different for each student, there are two primary categories, each of which requires at least one semester of work.

  1. The senior seminar: Offered in the winter semester of the senior year, the seminar considers a topic chosen by a faculty member. After a few introductory lectures by the professor, the students take over, giving lectures to their peers and writing up these talks. The lectures are based on some advanced readings, either from a text or published paper. There may also be opportunies for students to research their own questions, and then present the results to the class and in writing. Seniors taking the seminar will register for math 395 during the fall registration period.
  2. The thesis: There are different kinds of thesis opportunities, detailed in the next policy, "Writing A Thesis".

Writing a Thesis

Last Reviewed March 2010

  1. Each major who plans to pursue a one- or a two- semester thesis submits a proposal by the last day of classes of the winter semester of the junior year. (The proposal template, a LaTeX document, is here.) The Department then meets to consider proposals and to assign thesis advisors to the successful proposals. The Department Chair will notify students of the results of the meeting by the middle of the short-term. In order to maintain a quality experience, no full-time faculty member in the department normally supervises more than two thesis students during a given semester.
    Some details:
    • The due date for thesis proposals is the last day of classes of the winter semester of the junior year.
    • The proposal is a LaTeX document, a template, to be filled out carefully by the student. Among other things, it asks for a two to three page outline of the proposed area of study and a concise list of references.
    • As a hypothetical example, here is a sample completed proposal in PDF format as Bernhard Riemann would have submitted it.
    • Juniors abroad during the winter semester who do not have access to LaTeX may submit a proposal created in Word or whatever software is available. The proposal must follow the format of the sample PDF document.
    • By the due date, the completed proposal is to be emailed as a PDF document to Georgette Dumais (gdumais@bates.edu), Academic Administrative Assistant for Hathorn Hall.
    • The PDF file should have a useful, descriptive name. Riemann would've named his "BernhardRiemannThesisProposal.pdf", for example.
    • It is strongly advised that juniors discuss thesis topics and ideas with faculty members before writing a proposal.
    • Only the most promising proposals will be approved, and therefore a student must strive for a well-written document. Again we recommend that students ask a faculty member for feedback on a proposal before submission.
    • In the Mathematics Lounge (Hathorn 209), the Department keeps copies of all senior theses written over the past several years. Prospective thesis writers should have a serious look at these works.

  2. Two-semester thesis:
    1. In the fall semester, the student will be registered for Math 457.
    2. During the last two weeks of the fall semester the student gives a public talk on the thesis results to date.
    3. The Department then decides if the student may continue work on the thesis. If so, the student will register for Math 458 for the winter semester. Also at this time, the Department may also consider if the student's thesis is suitable for admission to the College Honors Program. See the section about Honors thesis below.
    4. Two-semester thesis students not in the Honors Program give the Department Chair a final copy of the thesis (to be placed on permanent display in the Mathematics Lounge) by the last day of classes of the winter semester
    5. The student will give a public presentation of thesis results either at the end of the winter semester (e.g. at the Mt. David Summit) or during the Short Term (perhaps as a guest lecturer in s21).

  3. One-semester thesis:
    1. The student will be registered for Math 457 or 458 according as the thesis is a fall or winter semester project.
    2. During the last two weeks of the semester of thesis work, the student gives a public presentation of the results. This will be either a talk or a poster, as agreed on by the advisor and student.
    3. By the last day of the final examination period of the semester of thesis work, the thesis student gives the Department Chair a final copy of the thesis (to be placed on permanent display in the Mathematics Lounge)

  4. Double thesis with another major:
    1. A double thesis is a single year-long project that satisfies the thesis requirements of both Mathematics and another department, and as such, requires a significant amount of mathematics. A student writing a double thesis will sign up for math thesis for one semester and the other department thesis for the other semester.
    2. The Department requires the student to present a talk or poster in the "Math semester"
    3. The Registrar lists a double thesis with a member of the Mathematics Department as one of the advisors.
    4. Course credit for a double thesis counts toward the Mathematics Major only if the student completes Mathematics 457 or Mathematics 458.
    5. A student who applies thesis course credit to another major may not apply that same credit to the Mathematics Major.
    6. The Department will not approve a proposal for a one-semester double thesis.
  5. Honors Thesis:
    1. While all capstone experiences expect students to demonstrate mathematical reading skills and ability to communicate mathematics, a thesis earning Honors in Mathematics is distinguished by an exceptional level of achievement in these areas.
    2. Based on the thesis work presented at the end of the first semester, the Department will decide which students to nominate for the Honors Program. A GPA of 3.5 is also a necessary condition.
    3. Students entering the Honors Program follow the procedures and deadlines of that Program. See the Bates College Honors Program page.

    Thesis Presentation and Evaluation

    Last Reviewed February 5, 2008

    Students completing a thesis give some form of presentation to the Department at the end of each semester of working on thesis. Typically:

    • one-semester thesis students present a poster or a talk;
    • two-semester non-honors thesis students present a talk in Fall Semester and a poster or a talk in Winter Semester;
    • Honors thesis students present a talk in Fall Semester and give their Honors defense during a College-designated Honors defense time period.

    When there is a choice of a poster or a talk, this decision is to be made with the thesis advisor.

    All student presentations are evaluated by two mathematics faculty who are not advising the thesis. The evaluators prepare written comments shortly after the presentation, typically within one to two days. These comments go initially to the thesis advisor, who then shares them with the student in whatever way the advisor deems most appropriate. The exception to this evaluation is the Honors defense, which has its own system for outside evaluation.

    In the case of a poster presentation, faculty evaluators may ask to speak with the student presenter additionally after the poster session, and may ask to see additional materials. In the case of a talk, faculty evaluators may ask questions during and after the talk, and may ask to view additional materials. The question-and-answer session for the talk, however, remains open to the public: there is not a separate, private question-and-answer session between faculty and the student presenter only.

    After either form of presentation, the evaluators and advisor have a short, private conference in which evaluators may ask the advisor additional questions regarding thesis progress. For eligible students who have previously declared an intent to pursue Honors, the advisor and evaluators make a recommendation to the Department after the Fall Semester presentation, supporting or discouraging an Honors nomination.

    Teaching Credit for Faculty

    Last Reviewed March 19, 1993

    A faculty member who is listed by the Registrar as the sole adviser for a student registered for 457 Thesis, 458 Thesis, 360 Independent Study, or s50 Individual Research earns credit for the equivalent of one-sixth of a course, provided the student's work is not equivalent to another listed mathematics course. If a student has two or more advisers, the credit will be shared accordingly as long as the thesis work has a sufficiently mathematical component.

    Number of Theses Supervised by Faculty

    Last Reviewed February 10, 1999

    A faculty member of the Mathematics Department who is teaching full time normally supervises at least one thesis student (defined as courses numbered 457 or 458) per semester.

    Because it is important that a student's thesis experience will be a good one, no full-time faculty member in the department will normally supervise more than two thesis students during a given semester.

    Procedures for Hiring Faculty

    Last Reviewed January 25, 2001

    Before each search the department will establish an ad hoc search committee.

    Charge: 1) to specify criteria for the search and 2) to recommend to the Dean of the Faculty, on behalf of the department, persons to be hired. The recommendation is determined by vote of the committee.

    Membership: Each committee must have at least three tenured/tenure-track department members (four for a tenure-track search). Members of the department are obligated to serve on all search committees if, during the search, they hold a full-time tenure-track appointment to the college, are not on leave, and do not disqualify themselves. Members on leave during the search and those who hold a contract for a period which includes the period to which the candidate would be appointed may serve at their option. By college policy each tenure-track search must contain one member from outside the department. For non-tenure-track searches a member from outside the department may serve at the request of the departmental members of the search committee.

    Responsibilities of the members of the committee: Each member is obligated to attend committee meetings, read candidate dossiers, attend candidate talks, and vote on candidates. A member who has written a letter of recommendation for a candidate whom the committee will consider may participate in the consideration of that candidate, but the letter referred to shall not be included in the dossier of the candidate.

    Chair of the Committee: The search committee will appoint its chair, whose responsibilities are to schedule and notify members of meetings, to run committee meetings, to contact candidates, to schedule candidate interviews, to publicize interviews, and to maintain contact with appropriate administrative offices.

    Chair of the Department: It is the responsibility of the chair of the department to inform candidates of the courses they might teach and of department or college expectations and possibilities for contract renewal.

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Last modified: March 24, 2010
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