Calculus & Engineering Math

Getting Started in Math at Duke

At Duke, you begin mathematics study with calculus. We offer multiple ways to begin calculus coursework, depending on whether you earned AP credit for calculus before coming to Duke, your SAT scores, your overall mathematics background, and what you plan for your major. We have developed some easy guidelines to help you select your first class and to plan your course progression.

Placement Open House

If you have additional questions after going through the information below, come to the Placement Open House.  This is held every year on the Saturday morning before the first day of classes, 9am-noon, in Physics 123.

Course Placement

The Course Placement section provides step by step instructions to help you choose the right first course for you. Here's what you will find:

  • Placement Guidelines - Information tables to help you select the correct calculus class depending on your SAT score and academic background.
  • Typical Course Sequences - We show you which course sequences make sense for you, depending on your starting point and your intended academic major.
  • Enrollment Policies - We tell you how to work with permission numbers, prerequisites, waitlists and changing classes.
  • Math Advanced Placement Tests - We explain how Advanced Placement (AP) tests translate into course credit at Duke, and where you go from there.
  • Frequently Asked Questions - We answer the questions we most frequently get from our students, with special attention paid to questions around AP credit, and questions from engineering majors.

Help, Tutoring & Mentoring

We offer a range of help, tutoring & mentoring support to help ensure your success in mathematics courses. Explore the following:

  • Help Room - we offer help rooms for all first-year math courses, no appointment necessary
  • Math Mentoring for Women - The Math Mentoring for Women program connects women first-years with an interest in mathematics with undergraduate mentors and mathematics faculty.
  • Peer Tutoring - Up to 12 hours of free tutoring is offered for all our first-year calculus courses.
  • Study Groups - One-hour meetings led by ARC staff, these study groups serve several introductory courses.
  • Private Tutoring - Each semester, a number of graduate and undergraduate students serve as private tutors.
  • Student-Athlete Academic Support - Mentoring and tutoring are available for athletes through the Student-Athlete Support Services Program

Day to Day Details

Courses for Your Career Path

If you are majoring in engineering, finance, economics, math, political science, psychology, or any other science, you will find that the coursework in your major relies heavily on math. In order to have the best opportunity to do well in those courses and absorb that material, it can be very beneficial to identify and take the appropriate math course. Check out our Courses for Your Career Path section.

We offer course recommendations for careers in:

  • actuarial science
  • business & economics
  • computer science
  • engineering & natural sciences
  • graduate math study
  • statistics & operations research
  • teaching math

L.P. and Barbara Smith Award for Teaching Excellence

Great teaching is a core value of the Mathematics Department.  The L.P. and Barbara Smith Award for Teaching Excellence is presented annually to one or two (or rarely more) graduate students who have demonstrated long-term commitment to teaching and whose teaching has reached a consistent level of excellence.  The award was made possible by a generous donation from Captain L. P. Smith and Barbara Smith, who established a fund in 1981 for this purpose. Captain Smith had been Supervisor of First-year Instruction in the Mathematics Department from 1973 until his retirement in 1982.