Thank you for your interest in the Albion College Mathematics and Computer Science Department! Albion College is a private liberal arts college of about 1,400 students, dedicated to the highest quality in undergraduate education. We offer various majors in mathematics as well as minors in mathematics and computer science. At Albion, you will be challenged and supported by excellent teachers focused on undergraduate teaching and your educational needs. We pride ourselves on our vibrant community of learning, small classes, and individual attention. Come see us and our beautiful campus on a visit day or through an individual visit. Thursday is an especially good day to visit campus; you can come to a colloquium talk and interact informally with both faculty and current students.
Mathematics and Computer Science
Throughout history, men and women from different cultures all over the world have found mathematical subjects appealing. Mathematics has been called the universal language and the language of science. Computer science has revolutionized the way we compute, communicate, find information, and conduct business. Studying these disciplines at Albion College is an excellent choice.
Problem solving and logical reasoning are at the heart of both mathematics and computer science. If you enjoy Legos, mechanical puzzles, logic problems, word games, or brain teasers, you might find enjoyment as a mathematics major or computer science minor. If you look at problems and seek optimal solutions and generalizations, if you like the rigor and elegance of logical arguments, if you like intellectual challenges and thinking abstractly, then a program of study in mathematics or computer science might be for you. If the term undecided applies to you, mathematics and computer science open many doors. We invite you to consider pursuing the many options in mathematics and computer science at Albion!
- What is a number?
- What is infinity?
- Can a bounded region in the plane have a perimeter of infinite length?
- Why is it impossible to trisect an angle with a straightedge and compass?
- How accurately can a poll of 1,000 people reflect the opinions of every voter in the United States?
- Are all even integers larger than 2 the sum of two prime numbers?
Mathematicians have pondered questions such as these for thousands of years. Mathematics is one of the four classical liberal arts, yet has a broad and powerful influence on our everyday lives.
- How do machines perform computations?
- How does the Internet work?
- Can computers think?
- How can text, pictures, and sound be stored in a computer?
- How can society balance freedom of the Internet with privacy and security of users?
- What are the ultimate limits of computers?
These questions are typical of the youngest of the liberal arts—computer science. It shares with mathematics strong historical ties as well as underlying values of abstraction, rigor, and elegance.
Albion College and the Liberal Arts
Founded in 1835, Albion College is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the country. The college is located on about 290 acres along the banks of the scenic Kalamazoo River. The campus has excellent facilities with more than 30 major buildings (see the virtual tour).
Emphasis on excellence in liberal arts education has been the Albion College hallmark. Today the College remains true to its liberal arts commitment, recognizing that a liberal arts education is still the best preparation for making a good living and for living well. The Annapolis Group, an organization of the leading national independent liberal arts colleges (including Albion College), has a great article on The Nation's Top Liberal Arts Colleges. US News ranks Albion in the top national liberal arts colleges and Princeton Review ranks Albion as one of its best 377 colleges.
You have many options to explore mathematics and computer science at Albion. Our course offerings emphasize both theory and important practical applications. We have four options for majors in mathematics, including a state-certified teaching major and minor. We have a joint Math/Physics major if you are also interested in physics or engineering. You might consider a Mathematics/Economics major if you are interested in economics or finance. Many of our majors choose an additional major since mathematics and computer science are a nice complement to virtually every other major on campus. Albion offers minors in many areas, including mathematics and computer science, so you may decide to enhance a major in another area with a minor in mathematics or computer science. We especially encourage science students who plan on attending graduate school to complete a minor in mathematics. Students in the social sciences who plan on attending graduate school should consider a minor in mathematics or statistics. See the links in the navigation section for more information about these programs.
In addition to majors, Albion offers pre-professional and interdisciplinary concentrations. We have many majors and minors who complete study in our pre-engineering, pre-law, and pre-health programs. Computer science students interested in artificial intelligence might consider our neuroscience concentration.
Our weekly colloquium series is a forum where exciting speakers talk about mathematics and computer science. Recent topics include industrial mathematics, microbubbles, topology, games, mathematical applications in economics, linear algebra, number theory, geometry, materials science, graph theory, mathematical modeling, cryptography, genetic algorithms, computer vision, medical imaging, software engineering, logic, electronic textbooks, bioinformatics, data visualization, student summer research experiences, graduate school, and careers options. This is a great opportunity for students to learn about interesting aspects of mathematics and computer science not normally taught in our courses.
Students can also explore areas of mathematics and computer science beyond what is taught in our normal courses. You might consider working with one of our faculty on a research project or independent project. Student research is supported by the Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (FURSCA), including funding for stipends, travel, supplies, and other expenses. Such research can lead to a departmental thesis and presentation at local and national meetings. This experience can be very valuable in admission to graduate school or when seeking employment. Some of our students have participated in the National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.
At Albion, you will take courses from dedicated faculty who are passionate about the subjects and courses they teach. All faculty are experienced teachers who love to teach and work with students. We are happy to meet with you during our office hours, talk with you before and after class, or chat with you at events around campus. We will meet with you regularly to discuss your plans for upcoming semesters and after graduation. Our professors are also distinguished researchers, engaging in scholarly activity in such areas as number theory, materials science, statistics, topology, medical imaging, parallel computing, graph theory, and education. Departmental faculty also serve as your academic advisor, helping you plan your academic schedule based on your abilities and aspirations. See our Faculty and Staff page for more information about us.
Each year the department awards over $40,000 in scholarships. The Sleight Scholarship provides funding for incoming mathematics and computer science students. The Bragg Scholarship provides funding for upper-level mathematics and computer science students. We also recognize excellence in our juniors with the Lancaster Award. Our outstanding seniors are awarded with the Sleight Prize in Mathematics and the Fryxell Prize in Computer Science. Many of our students also receive Albion College Academic Scholarships. In the past our students have received scholarships through organizations such as the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics. See our Awards page for more information.
Many students enhance their academic experience by working a few hours each week. Some students work as computer lab assistants or as tutors for the Quantitative Studies Center. Not only will you get paid, you strengthen your knowledge by helping others learn! Others gain practical experience working with our Information Technology Department. Summer student internships are another way to gain valuable experience.
A $40 Million renovation/construction project of the existing science complex was completed during the summer of 2006. This facility houses faculty offices and state-of-the-art spaces for science and mathematics education and research. The science complex includes a small museum with displays of scientific interest. The atrium, shown on the right, is a general gathering area for faculty and students. More information is available on our Facilities page.
Albion has excellent computing facilities. Our department has two instructional/research computer laboratories running Windows and Linux respectively. We teach a variety of programming languages including Java, C, C++, scheme, and assembly language. A SGI Octane2 is available for use in the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Analytical Science Laboratory, a shared science laboratory. Albion has extensive campus computing facilities including wireless networking and is a member of the Internet2 consortium. More information about campus technology can be found here.
Our alumni have been successful in many occupations. Even in a weak economy, the job market remains strong for mathematics and computer science majors. A recent report indicated "computer occupations account for 5 out of the 20 fastest growing occupations in the economy" (Tomorrow's Jobs, U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics). The logical reasoning and critical thinking skills you will develop as a mathematics or computer science major give you incredible flexibility in an ever-changing job market. The Occupational Outlook Handbook, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, describes several computer and mathematical related occupations where our alumni have found employment:
- Accountants and Auditors
- Computer hardware engineers
- Computer programmers
- Computer software engineers
- Computer support specialists and systems administrators
- Computer systems analysts, computer scientists, and database administrators
- Computer and information systems managers
- Education Administrators
- Financial Analysts and Personal Financial Advisors
- Management analysts
- Operations research analysts
- Physicians and surgeons
- Teachers–preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary
- Top executives
A 2002 ranking listed math- and computer science-related jobs near the top (Jobs Rated Almanac by Les Krantz). Specific rankings included Actuary 2, Financial Planner 3, Computer Systems Analyst 4, Software Engineer 6, Statistician 9, Mathematician 11, Website Manager 17, and Computer Programmer 26. A mathematics or computer science major and a liberal arts education form an excellent preparation for these and many other great careers!
Albion ranks in the top 100 in the areas of mathematics, computer science, education, and engineering for the number of PhD's earned by students graduating from liberal arts colleges. In fact, many of our recent mathematics and computer science alumni are currently pursuing graduate degrees. Ultimately, our students not only learn mathematics and computer science at Albion, but become lifelong learners by learning how to learn.
At Albion, the Mathematics and Computer Science Department sponsors activities ranging from the social to the academic. We have several picnics and faculty/student mixers throughout the year. We celebrate Pi Day and Mathematical Awareness Month. You can join the Albion College Mathematical Society, a student-run organization that sponsors programs and events which support those who are interested in mathematics. You will have opportunities to use your problem-solving skills in regional and national programming and mathematics competitions such as:
- Michigan Autumn Take-Home Challenge
- William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition
- Mathematical Competition in Modeling
- Lower Michigan Mathematics Competition
- Programming competition sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery.
Students attend and present papers at local, regional, and national forums
- Colloquium Series
- Elkin R. Isaac Student Research Symposium
- Undergraduate Conference in Mathematics at Miami University
- Undergraduate Conference in Mathematics at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
- Annual meeting of the Michigan Section of the Mathematical Association of America
- Michigan Undergraduate Mathematics Conference
- Denison Undergraduate Mathematics and Computer Science Conference
Click here to see what events are currently planned.
A solid mathematics background is suggested all for students enrolling at Albion College. We recommend that you complete four years of mathematics and at least precalculus in high school. We encourage students interested in mathematics and/or computer science to complete as much mathematics and computer science in high school as possible. A few students enter Albion with credit from their local community college or university. Regardless of your background, we will work with you to ensure your placement in the most appropriate mathematics and computer science courses. See our information on preparing for Albion for more information on high school preparation and AP credit. See our transfer credit page for information on transferring credit to Albion.
You can apply to Albion College online at no charge! Students who apply to Albion College prior to December 1 will be mailed a notification of an admission decision prior to January 1. Students who apply after December 1 will receive notification of an admission decision within 3-4 weeks after your completed application is received. All applicants are encouraged to submit their application for admission prior to March 1 as students who apply after this date will be considered for admission on a space-available basis.
For further information, please contact
Paul Anderson, Chairperson
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Albion, Michigan 49224-5013
517/629-0361 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time, weekdays during the academic year.
Or contact the Admission Office.
Thanks again for your interest in Albion College!