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2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog
University of Pittsburgh
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Dec 08, 2022
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog

Mathematical Biology, BS

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Mathematics has assumed a significant role in the study of biological systems, in the development of biotechnology, and in advances in medicine. The construction and analysis of mathematical models of biological systems allows for the precise formulation of theoretical ideas, the testing of assumptions that may not be easily accessible experimentally, and the generation of novel predictions that can guide future research. The University of Pittsburgh is known for its excellence in biomedical research, and the Department of Mathematics at Pitt includes prominent faculty with strong records of teaching and research in mathematical biology.

The major in Mathematical Biology will help students develop an expertise in thinking mathematically about biological systems. Students will acquire fundamental skills in mathematical analysis and simulation, specialized experience in mathematical modeling in biology and neuroscience, and knowledge of particular areas of biology. These tools will prepare students to participate in undergraduate research and to go on to use quantitative methods in biotechnology, medicine, and other fields.


The Mathematical Biology major will require the completion of 43 credits in mathematics.

Introductory theoretical courses

Both of the following courses are required. Qualified students may substitute MATH 0450 - INTRODUCTION TO ANALYSIS  for MATH 0413  and MATH 0420 .

Professional Development

Linear Algebra

Choose one of the following courses.

Mathematical biology courses

Both of the following courses are required.

Numerical mathematics courses

Both of the following courses are required.

Introductory biology courses

Both of the following courses are required.

Other Requirements and Recommendations

Students pursuing the Mathematical Biology major are encouraged to take CHEM 0110 - GENERAL CHEMISTRY 1  and CHEM 0120 - GENERAL CHEMISTRY 2 , as these courses will satisfy the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences breadth requirement in natural science and will expand their biology and neuroscience course options. Several of the BIOSC courses that fulfill requirements for this major have prerequisites, but some do not have prerequisites. PHYS 0174 - BASIC PHYSICS, SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING 1 (INTEGRATED)  and PHYS 0175 - BASIC PHYSICS, SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING 2 (INTEGRATED)  also carry a high degree of relevance for Mathematical Biology majors.

  • Mathematical Biology students who plan to continue in graduate studies are advised to take advanced calculus, MATH 1530 - ADVANCED CALCULUS 1  and MATH 1540 - ADVANCED CALCULUS 2 . MATH 1370 - INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE  and MATH 1380 - MATH BIOLOGY  introduce students to techniques for independent research; students in these courses are encouraged to pursue research opportunities in Mathematical Biology that are available locally and nationally.
  • A grade of C or higher is necessary in all courses required for the major. A minimum GPA of 2.0 in departmental courses is required for graduation.
  • No course that counts toward the major may be taken on the S/NC basis.
  • Students must complete at least one writing-intensive course (W-course) in the major. Either MATH 0413  or MATH 0450  will satisfy this requirement.
  • Students seeking honors in Mathematical Biology will earn departmental honors if they meet the following requirements.
    • Fulfill all requirements for the major.
    • Complete the following courses with a letter grade of A- or better.
    • Complete the following courses with a letter grade of B or higher.
    • Complete one of the following conditions.
      • An honors thesis under the direction of a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics; for students seeking a BPhil from the David C. Frederick Honors College, this requirement could be satisfied by the Honors College thesis
      • A 2000-level mathematics course with a letter grade of B or higher, in addition to the course use for the third item, above.
    • Although not required, the department strongly recommends that honors degree candidates take the intermediate honors courses MATH 1185  and MATH 0450  during their freshman or sophomore year.

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