Photo of two students at a computer

Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science

Discover how mathematical and computational thinking connect you to the world.

We intentionally integrate Math, Statistics, & Computer Science, connecting within and beyond fields

Our liberal arts approach to Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science (MSCS) means you don’t have to give up other aspects of yourself to succeed. Our faculty make connections with a broad range of fields across the liberal arts, so our courses connect different disciplinary perspectives. MSCS students can major in mathematics, applied math and statistics, or computer science. We also offer a minor in data science. Our forward-looking, innovative curriculum is project-based, so you’ll collaborate on real, fun, projects on small teams, gaining critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that apply to any career.

All are welcome in MSCS

We value diversity and inclusion. We’re proud that 43 percent of our recent graduating majors identified as women and 7 percent as non-binary. Although there’s still room for improvement, we’re committed to a climate of mutual respect, free of discrimination, that is equitable, inclusive, and welcoming.

No matter your background, there’s a place for you here. Whether you are just starting your journey in MSCS or have prior experience, check out our advice about the Math, Applied Math and Statistics, or Computer Science majors to get started.

MSCS Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science (MSCS) department actively works towards creating an inclusive and respectful environment for everyone, across race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexuality, gender identity, caregiver or parental status, marital status, and political affiliation as well as gender expression, health conditions, socioeconomic status or background, neurodiversity, immigrant status, and physical appearance. Macalester College’s values unite us, and we celebrate our unique perspectives and life experiences.

We acknowledge that creating a truly supportive and inclusive learning and work environment for all MSCS students, faculty, and staff is a continuous task that requires collaboration and commitment from each member of our community, students, staff, and faculty alike. Challenging cultural norms and dismantling structural oppression is hard and necessary. We are all learners and can self-educate and reflect on our role and responsibility in this work, in and out of the classroom. We look to students to partner with faculty and staff in championing these inclusion and equity efforts.

Why study MSCS at Macalester?

  • All majors take foundational courses in multiple disciplines within MSCS
  • Students have opportunities to work as peer mentors in the classroom, and take part in student/faculty summer research projects like robotics, computing and agriculture, and media data science
  • Our department offers strong gender diversity among our students and faculty members
  • Our most experienced professors often lead our introductory classes

MSCS in the cities

There are over 200+ internship sites within 8 miles of campus at nonprofits, start-ups, and Fortune 500 companies.

Local MSCS alumni stop by often to lecture about topics in our fields and chat with you about their careers.

The Twin Cities are home to annual tech, analytics, and data science conferences like Minnebar and MinneMUDAC that are also open to students.

Life after Macalester

Public health; finance, management, and economic consulting; software; education; insurance; banking; and any field you can imagine when you put your mind—and your MSCS training—to it.

Join our community

Our friendly department welcomes you, and offers a great mix of fun and scholarly events:

Bounce House? We’ve got it. Our annual fall Block Party features games, the aforementioned Bounce House, food, and fun.

At our annual MSCS and Society Lecture, you’ll hear from experts in our fields and enhance your classroom learning.

We also host weekly coffee get-togethers, challenging competitions, and events like DataFest (Mac’s got one of the biggest gatherings in the nation).

Department happenings
Bret Jackson receives NSF Grant

September 2023: Associate Professor in Computer Science, Bret Jackson was awarded an NSF Grant as part of a multi-institution team for Drawing from Life in Extended Reality: Advancing and Teaching Cross-Reality User Interfaces for Observational 3D Sketching. This project creates novel user interface techniques and viewpoint entropy algorithms for making observations (e.g., judging relative proportion, angles, and negative space) by identifying, visualizing, and navigating the most useful viewpoints for observations of a real-world subject. Undergraduate students in both computer science and art/design disciplines are trained as key members of the interdisciplinary research team.

Lori Ziegelmeier receives NSF Grant

August 2023: Associate Professor in Math, Lori Ziegelmeier was awarded an NSF grant for Collaborative Research: RUI: HNDS-R: Stepping out of flatland: Complex networks, topological data analysis, and the progress of science. This project builds on the NSF-supported ExHACT project by applying mathematical tools drawn from topological data analysis to analyze large scale bibliometric data and data on grant payments from the UMETRICS project. These tools permit the examination of the topological structure and dynamics of concept networks that capture “what science knows,” “what it wants to know,” and “what scientists currently have the propensity to know.” The project will help identify the factors that affect the rate and character of new discoveries, whether the discovery rate is affected by changes in research funding or the organization of scientific work, and how these effects vary across time and fields of inquiry.

Joslenne Peña receives NSF Grant

May 2023: Assistant Professor in Computer Science, Joslenne Peña, was recently awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant from the CRII program called: “Developing Computational Skills in Non-Computing Professionals using an Informal Learning Approach.” This project will create informal learning experiences for diverse groups of workforce professionals looking to learn how to code in the St. Paul area. Through community partnerships and outreach, the project seeks to recruit participants locally and hold two workshop series’ at the DeWitt Wallace Library. The workshops seek to develop the skills and confidence of professionals who have been left out of the Computing community but have the desire to obtain computational skills. The project will provide opportunities for students to engage in all facets of research and expand the pipeline of groups in the CSforALL movement.

Macalester students succeed in mathematical modeling competition

A team of three Macalester students achieved Finalist status in the 2022 COMAP Mathematical Contest in Modeling! Shengyuan Wang, Yixiao Wang, and Yulin Shao worked over a four-day period to design a strategy for trading in a market with gold and bitcoin options. The Finalist status represents the top 2% of results from among fifteen thousand teams in 22 countries.

Ellen Graham awarded Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship

Macalester and MSCS alumna Ellen Graham (class of 2021) has been awarded the Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship by the American Statistical Association (ASA). This national award is given each year to two women: one in or entering the early stages of graduate training (MS or PhD) and one in a more advanced stage of training. Graham is currently a PhD student in Biostatistics at the University of Washington School of Public Health. In announcing the award, ASA cited Graham’s extraordinary commitment to improving human health through statistical research, her dedication towards inclusiveness in medical research, and her academic success in pursuit of a PhD. Congratulations Ellen!

Math Professor Tom Halverson receives the 2020 Thomas Jefferson Award

The award was established in 1961 by the Robert Earll McConnell Foundation to honor faculty members who exemplify the best principles and ideals of Thomas Jefferson. Read more about Tom’s accomplishments in the award citation. Congratulations Tom!

Emeritus Professor Stan Wagon published a new book: Bicycle or Unicycle?: A Collection of Intriguing Mathematical Puzzles

Available at, Bicycle or Unicycle? is a collection of 105 mathematical puzzles selected from the Macalester Problem of the Week archive. Each puzzle in the collection was selected because of its surprising solution. Give them a try!

Phuong Vu awarded Outstanding PhD Student Award

Macalester and MSCS alumna Phuong Vu (class of 2013) has been awarded the Outstanding PhD Student Award in Biostatistics as part of the University of Washington’s 2019 School of Public Health Excellence Awards. Phuong research interests are in statistical modeling, visualization, and analysis of dependent data.  She develops statistical methods and machine learning techniques for spatially correlated and high-dimensional data, and her research is motivated by applications in environmental epidemiology, public health, and medicine.  Join us in congratulating Phuong on this fantastic achievement!