Math and Science

Math and Science: Getting started

In our increasingly technological society, a solid grounding in quantitative methods, mathematics, and natural and physical sciences is an essential component of a liberal arts education. All Wellesley students do academic work in these areas, whether their ultimate goal includes the study of medicine, a career in technology, or pursuit of their love of art and music. Consider taking a course in these areas in your first semester, as a way to engage with these important subject areas.

Finding the right first course to take can be especially important in these fields, where understanding fundamental principles explored in introductory courses is critical to success in subsequent upper-level courses. 

Placement and Exemption Exams can be especially useful here.

  • First-year students are strongly advised to take the optional online Math placement questionnaire, which indicates their appropriate placement in the sequence of calculus courses. It is best to take this as early in the summer as possible. The math department will use your results, in combination with any AP/IB scores or other information about your math background, to make a calculus placement recommendation for you.
  • All students must also take the mandatory online Quantitative Reasoning Skills Assessment, to indicate that they fulfill the basic skills component of the Quantitative Reasoning requirement so they may enroll in the many courses for which basic quantitative reasoning skills (including algebra, geometry, basic probability, and statistics, graph theory, and estimation) are a prerequisite. 
  • Students coming to Wellesley with strong backgrounds in Physics can choose to take the exams in this area, which will indicate whether they are exempted from Physics 107 or Physics 108; these exams will be offered online during the summer, starting in early July; watch the Checklist for them to be posted.  Students with a strong background in Chemistry, indicated by a score of 4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP exam, or a 5 or higher on the Chemistry Higher Level IB exam, may take CHEM 120 as their first course (no placement test needed). 

See departmental and interdepartmental information.

  • Each department posts information about getting the right start in these fields; following the links below:

Astronomy and Astrophysics
Computer Science
Quantitative Reasoning

  • If you are interested in Pre-Med and/or exploring the health professions, plan to attend the pre-health overview meeting during Orientation, and check out:

Health Professions Advising

  • Students interested in the connections between Biology and Chemistry should consider taking BISC 116/CHEM 116, an integrated introduction to these fields. 
  • The following departments offer strong starting points for many science-oriented interdisciplinary programs:

Environmental Studies