Mathematics, encompassing several of the original liberal arts, is valued for its exquisite intellectual beauty and its timeless exploration of all things spatial, quantitative and patterned through the lens of rigorous abstraction. As a vibrant modern science, it possesses an unparalleled analytical power for describing, detailing and deriving insight into numerous physical, biological, technological, economic and societal aspects of the world we all live in. The Mathematics department is committed to engaging a diverse range of students in the active study and creative application of the principles, ideas, and methods that characterize mathematics and the mathematical sciences, and offering preparation toward a wide variety of careers and educational pursuits.

Upon graduation, some mathematics majors go on to graduate or professional school while others begin careers in teaching, business, industry, or government. The major can be structured to provide a solid foundation in the mathematical sciences-pure and applied mathematics, statistics, and operations research-and fields close to mathematics like computer science, actuarial science, and engineering. A major or minor in mathematics can also provide an excellent technical and theoretical complement to a major or minor in other fields.

Major Requirements


The minimum requirements for the major outlined below allow great flexibility in designing a course of study to meet their own intellectual and career goals.

Fundamental courses

Calculus 1Scientific Modeling and Differential Calculus

Calculus 2Scientific Modeling and Integral Calculus

MATH 210Discrete Mathematics


MATH 212Multivariable Calculus


MATH 214Linear Algebra


*Any student who places out of a Calculus 1 or Calculus 2 class satisfies the corresponding requirement for the Math Major.

Advanced courses

Students must have 24 units of Mathematics courses numbered 310 or above (excluding MATH 400) in which their grade point average is equal to or greater than 2.0.

Colloquium requirement

MATH 300Junior Colloquium


MATH 400Senior Colloquium


Breadth requirement

Select one option as detailed below:

Option 1
MATH 150Statistical Data Analysis


Option 2
COMP Computer Science courses


Option 3
MATH 160Creative Problem-Solving


COMP Computer Science course


The Mathematics department has prepared guidelines for majors considering future study or careers in pure and applied mathematics, education, actuarial science, and computer science. These guidelines are available on our website.


Students majoring in Mathematics should familiarize themselves with this requirement at the time of declaring the major. The Third-Year Writing Requirement is addressed in MATH 300. Students not taking MATH 300 (e.g., study abroad students) may petition to satisfy the writing requirement at a different time.


This examination has two parts. The first part measures competence in the fundamental courses and is handled during MATH 300: Junior Colloquium. The second part consists of an independent project culminating in a written report and public presentation during the senior year, and is handled through MATH 400: Senior Colloquium. Further information is available from the department.


Students who wish to be considered for honors in mathematics should complete at least the five fundamental courses in their first two years with a grade point average greater than 3.0. Honors students must complete three approved upper division courses beyond those required for the major. These courses should be chosen to prepare the student for the senior honors project. Honors students enroll in MATH 499 to prepare this project, which is substituted for MATH 400 in satisfying the major requirements. Consult the Mathematics Department and the Honors Program for additional details.

Minor Requirements


Students must select three courses from the list below:

MATH 150Statistical Data Analysis


MATH 210Discrete Mathematics


MATH 212Multivariable Calculus


MATH 214Linear Algebra



Students must choose two additional MATH electives, at least one 300-level 4-unit course is required.

Students must take at least 20 units or the equivalent of five semester-courses in Mathematics at Occidental or through college transfer (not AP) credit to earn the minor in Mathematics. The grade point average for all Mathematics courses taken at Occidental and through college transfer must be at least 2.0.

Mathematics Placement


Placement in calculus courses (MATH 108, MATH 110, MATH 114, or MATH 128) is determined based on previous mathematical experience, advising, and the results of the Calculus Placement Exam. The Calculus Placement Exam is administered online prior to the beginning of Fall Semester.

Students with qualifying scores on the Advanced Placement or IB Examination in Calculus are most often placed in calculus courses as follows:

Calculus AP Exam Score Which Math course to take
BC 4 or 5 MATH 150, MATH 210, MATH 212, or MATH 214.
AB 4 or 5
MATH 120 or MATH 128 (after consultation with Math Dept)
AB or BC 3 or less
Take Calculus Placement Exam
IB Exam Score  
Which Math course to take
IB  HL  6 or 7 MATH 150, MATH 210, MATH 212, or MATH 214.
IB  HL 5 MATH 114 or MATH 120 or MATH 128:
IB  HL 4 MATH 110 or MATH 114
IB HL 3 or less Take Calculus Placement Exam
 IB IS SL (any score)
Take Calculus Placement Exam

In addition to the calculus courses, MATH 105, MATH 146, MATH 150, MATH 160, MATH 210, MATH 212, MATH 214, and COMP 211 may be taken by first-year students meeting the prerequisites.

Students with transfer credits should confer with the Department for advice on placement in an appropriate mathematics course.


Students receiving a 4 or 5 on the AP Statistics Exam are exempt from MATH 146; MATH 150 is recommended for these students wanting to take further statistics courses.


Calculus is a prerequisite for all mathematics courses with the exceptions of MATH 105 and MATH 146, as well as for most Computer Science courses. All students planning to take Calculus must take the online Calculus Placement Exam prior to the beginning of the Fall Semester unless they are exempt due to having received an Advanced Placement exam score. (See Calculus Placement above or contact the Mathematics Department for further details.) Prerequisites for any course may be waived with permission of the instructor.


Mathematics Courses


Regular Faculty

Treena Basu

Assistant Professor, Mathematics

B.S. Jogamaya Devi College: University of Calcutta; M.S. University of Texas-Pan American; M.S. Bengal Engineering and Science University; Ph.D. University of South Carolina

Ron Buckmire

Professor, Mathematics

B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Alan Knoerr

Associate Professor, Mathematics, Cognitive Science

B.A., Oberlin College; Sc.M., Ph.D., Brown University

Tamás Lengyel

Professor, Mathematics

Diploma, Ph.D., Eotvos University, Budapest

Eric Sundberg

Associate Professor, Mathematics

A.B., Occidental College; Ph.D., Rutgers University

Nalsey Tinberg

Professor, Mathematics

B.A., UCLA M.S.; Ph.D., University of Warwick

Gregory Tollisen

Full Time Non Tenure Track Professor, Mathematics

B.S., University of Portland; M.S., Caltech

Ramin Naimi

Professor, Mathematics

B.S., UCLA; Ph.D., Caltech

On Special Appointment

Gerald Daigle

Non Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Mathematics

B.A. Pomona College; M.A. Cambridge University; Ph.D. California Institute of Technology

Nishu Lal

Full Time Non Tenure Track Assistant Professor

B.S., M.S., UC, Irvine; Ph.D., UC Riverside

Don Lawrence

Full Time Non Tenure Track Full Professor

B.A., Pomona College; M.A., Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara

Jeffrey Miller

Full Time Non Tenure Track Assistant Professor

B.S. UC Davis; M.A., Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara