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Science Core: Mathematics

Mathematics is the common language of science and engineering and is essential for understanding many aspects of the physical world. To provide a solid mathematical foundation, MIT has a two-subject General Institute Requirement in Mathematics  – 18.01X & 18.02

18.01: Single-variable calculus

  • For whom? Standard version for majority of first-year students. 
  • Pre-Requisite: High school algebra and trigonometry. Student may have a year or less of high school calculus and no AP credit. 
  • AP Credit: In order to get 18.01 credit, students will need to pass the on-line 18.01 ASE this summer. Students who receive a 5 on the Calculus BC AP exam, or a 5 on the Calculus AB exam or the AB subpart of the BC exam, or pass the first half of the 18.01 ASE will be able to take 18.01A. This policy applies to all students entering MIT this fall, regardless of their original admission year or when they took their Calculus AP exams. Unfortunately, we will not be participating in this year’s MDX, so we can not use our earlier policy of determining 18.01 credit through a combination of MDX score and AP score.
  • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Passing both parts of MIT’s 18.01 Advanced Standing Exam during Orientation week or Transfer Credit gives 18.01 credit.

18.01A: Intensive half-term review of 18.01 with focus on later topics not covered in Calculus AB. Begin 18.02 in week 7.

  • For whom? For students with one year of high school calculus (generally at the Calculus AB level).
  • Pre-Requisite: Knowledge of differentiation and elementary integration
  • AP Credit: Students who receive a 5 on the Calculus BC AP exam, or a 5 on the Calculus AB exam or the AB subpart of the BC exam, or pass the first half of the 18.01 ASE will be able to take 18.01A.  
  • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Passing the first half of MIT’s 18.01 Advanced Standing Exam during Orientation week allows 18.01A registration.

18.02: Multi-variable calculus  

  • For whom? Standard version for majority of first-year students. 
  • Pre-Requisite: 18.01
  • AP Credit: None
  • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Passing MIT’s 18.02 Advanced Standing Exam during Orientation week or Transfer Credit.

18.02A: Identical to 18.02 but begins in week 7 and continues through IAP or spring term

  • For whom? Only for students who successfully complete 18.01A in first half of fall term
  • Pre-Requisite: 18.01A
  • AP Credit: Not applicable.
  • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Not applicable.

18.022: Calculus with greater focus on concepts

  • For whom? For students with interest in additional material in geometry, vector fields, and linear algebra.  More theoretical approach. 
  • Pre-Requisite: 18.01
  • AP Credit: Not applicable.
  • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Not applicable.

Next steps in Math for first-year students who have fulfilled 18.01 and 18.02 requirements: 

  • 18.03 – Differential Equations -18.02 is a co-requisite; students may take both 18.02 and 18.03 in same term.
  • 18.06 –  Linear Algebra – 18.02 is a pre-requisite; Useful for many subjects.
  • 18.05 –  Probability and Statistics – Spring only; 18.02 is a pre-requisite. 

Take-Aways: 

  • Many first-year students come in having fulfilled 18.01 and 18.02 with a combination of transfer credits or having passed both of MIT’s Advanced Standing Exams during first-year orientation. 
  • Students have the option of finishing 18.02A during IAP, or during the second half of the spring semester by joining the regular lectures for 18.02.
  • Many first-year students will take 18.03 Differential Equations in their second semester. 
  • Some first-years come to MIT with significant math background and may want to try a higher-level subject, e.g., 18.100B, 18.700, or 18.701. First-year students should not enroll in these math subjects without consulting with someone in Mathematics. 
  • All “flavors” of 18.01 and 18.02 have lectures scheduled at the same time to facilitate moves between them.  In particular, students struggling with 18.01A may be able to drop into 18.01 up through the completion of 18.01A at the mid-semester.

For complete information, visit the Department of Mathematics website. Be sure to also check out the videos about GIRs that can be found on the School of Science YouTube playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdvxZS1QSbk1t4ojfSArHvzOH-YzSHUrJ.