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SMC|Academic Programs|Mathematics|Which Math Should I Take?

Which Math Should I Take?

The Mathematics Department of Santa Monica College has created a variety of courses in particular sequences designed to serve as many students as possible.This information will help you choose your first few transfer-level mathematics courses, once you have successfully completed Math 20 (Intermediate Algebra) or Math 18 (Intermediate Algebra for Statistics and Finite Mathematics).

  • If you intend to major in economics, business or one of the social sciences and you do not need trigonometry-based calculus, then you probably should take courses in the Math 28/29 (Calculus 1 & 2 for Business and Social Science) sequence.  There are exceptions: for example, UC-bound students probably should take courses in the Math 7/8 (Calculus 1 & 2) sequence.  The prerequisite for the Math 28/29 sequence is Math 26 (Functions and Modeling for Business and Social Science).  For Math 26, the prerequisite course is Math 20.

  • If you intend to major in computer science, engineering, mathematics or one of the physical/natural/life sciences and you need trigonometry-based calculus, then you should take courses in the Math 7/8/11 calculus sequence.  The prerequisite for this sequence is Math 2 (Precalculus), an intensive 5-unit course covering two subject areas, college algebra and trigonometry.  The prerequisites for Math 2 are Math 20 (Intermediate Algebra) and Math 32 (Plane Geometry) which may be taken in any order.  Math 8 is the prerequisite for Math 10 (Discrete Structures), Math 11 (Multivariable Calculus), Math 13 (Linear Algebra) and Math 15 (Differential Equations).  The Mathematics Department recommends that students complete Math 11 and Math 15 prior to enrolling in Math 13.

  • If you are interested in becoming an elementary school teacher, then you should take Math 41 (Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers).  The prerequisite for Math 41 is Math 20.

  • If you intend to major in the liberal arts or the social sciences and are not planning on majoring in one of the above fields, then you should take Math 21 (Finite Mathematics) or Math 54 (Elementary Statistics).  The preferred prerequisite course is the 3-unit course Math 18.  The 5-unit course Math 20 also satisfies this prerequisite.

  • If you are unsure of your major or whether Math 18 or Math 20 is more appropriate, then you should take Math 20.

In general, if you are in doubt as to which sequence of classes to pursue but have some idea of where you plan to transfer, you should consult either a knowledgeable transfer counselor, the transfer school itself or any full-time mathematics instructor who teaches these college-level courses.  You may also review major requirements for many public and private colleges on the web at the Transfer Services website.