AP/IB Policy

For the policy about AP or IB credit for math or computer science courses, see the Macalester registrar’s official policy listings: AP Policy IB Policy

Entry Courses

There are several starting points in the department curriculum. Most students start in the calculus sequence, discrete math, linear algebra, statistics, or in a computer science course.


    We have a three course calculus sequence that is different from AP Calculus and different from the traditional Calc I, II, III sequence found at most colleges and universities. In particular, all three of our courses use functions of multiple variables. Course Descriptions

    Where should I start in the calculus sequence?

    Math 135, Applied Multivariable Calculus I: This course is appropriate for students with no calculus background; however, it is different from a traditional calculus 1 and may be an appropriate course for students with a calculus background who are interested in developing mathematical modeling skills.

    Math 137, Applied Multivariable Calculus II: This course is recommended for students who have had a successful year of high school calculus (as merely one example, AB calculus with a score of 4 or better on the AP exam). This is the most common starting place in the calculus curriculum.

    Math 237, Applied Multivariable Calculus III: Students who enter Macalester having taken AP-BC Calculus with a score of 4 or 5 are encouraged to start here. There are a few topics that students who start in Math 237 will need to pick up quickly (because they are covered in Math 137, are not in AP calculus, and are reviewed quickly in Math 237), but students who score a 4-5 on the AP-BC exam tend to pick them up easily.

    How far do I need to go in the calculus sequence?

    Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry majors need to complete the calculus sequence through Math 237.  Economics and most Biology students need to complete any one of Math 135, Math 137, or Math 237. Biology majors with a Biochemistry emphasis need to compete Math 137. We encourage you to see the departmental web pages (BiologyChemistryEconomicsPhysics and Astronomy) for these other majors and speak with a member of the department to verify their mathematics requirements.


    Math 155: Introduction to Statistical Modeling is our introductory statistics course.  It is required for the Math major, the AMS major, the Statistics minor, and other majors on campus (including Biology and Economics). Math 155 is a course unique to Macalester, with an emphasis on multivariate modeling, and it cannot be replaced by AP Statistics credits. Course Description.

    Math 279: Discrete Mathematics is a good starting point for students who are interested in mathematics and want to try out areas of mathematics that are different than calculus. This course is required for the mathematics major and the computer science major but not the applied mathematics and statistics major. Course Description.

    Math 236: Linear Algebra is a good starting point for students who have already completed calculus at the level of Math 137. This course is required for the mathematics major and the applied mathematics and statistics major. Course Description.


    Comp 123: Core Concepts in Computer Science is the most common introductory course in computer science. It is suitable for students with little or no background in computing, programming, or computer science.  This course serves both as a first course in the major and minor as well as an introduction to computer science for those not planning to take further coursework. This course is offered every semester. Course Description.

    Comp 120: Computing and Society is a first year seminar course that is offered most fall semesters. It replaces Comp 123 in the major and minor. Course Description.

    Comp 124: Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures: Students who have significant prior experience in computer science may choose to start in Comp 124 with permission of the instructor. Course Description.