At some point in an undergraduate’s life, one realizes that he or she must try and schedule out what classes must be taken (and when) in order to, you know, get a degree. This is somewhat of an important task, seeing as graduating would be a good thing to do — so I used this rationale to map out my next two and half years (…) when I should have been listening in lecture (they post the lecture recordings online after class, don’t worry). As an applied math and public health double major, navigating degree requirements across two schools can be kind of confusing, but not very hard at all. One could even describe the activity as “fun”, maybe — I get nerdy and excited when I see all the cool classes I still have to take and what interesting courses are offered next semester. Everyone always talks about how “easy” it is to double major and how “flexible” distribution requirements are – and going through my degree shows just that.
To start, I looked at my major requirements, for applied math first, then public health afterwards. Then, I looked at my distribution and writing requirements. The easiest way I have found to visualize a degree is through the e-catalog. Here, specifically for applied math, every single class that one needs to take to get a degree in AMS is located in a simple guide. The degree is split up very easily into 9 distinct parts.
- Linear Algebra and Differential Equations
- Discrete Mathematics
- Probability and Statistics
- Area of Focus
- Quantitative Studies
- Natural Sciences (for B.S. degree)
First off, all applied math majors are required to complete the calculus sequence, consisting of Calculus I, Calculus II, and Calculus III (or Honors Multivariable Calculus). Luckily, I came in to college with AP credits for Calculus AB and BC, so I dove right into Calculus III during my freshman fall and was done with this degree requirement by the end of my first semester!
Next, there are two ways to fulfill the Linear Algebra and Differential Equations part of the AMS degree. You can either A, take a course in linear algebra and a course in differential equations, or B, take 550.291, Linear Algebra and Differential Equations, also known as LADE, and then an additional linear algebra/differential equations focused course. I chose option A, and took 110.201 (Linear Algebra) last spring, and am taking 110.302 (Differential Equations and Applications) this semester, finishing this requirement in only a couple more weeks!
For the third part of the degree, an AMS major must take at least one computing course, there being many options that can fulfill this requirement. As someone who had absolutely zero experience doing any sort of coding or programming before I got to Hopkins, I took 250.205 (Introduction to Computing) last semester and loved the course. The specific class runs through the very basics of computing, from using a command-line interface to learning Python and MATLAB. The class itself helped me a lot this semester as well, as my optimization class uses a lot of MATLAB and algorithm language, and learning R for my biostatistics lab was a lot easier because I knew a language beforehand. That being said, I easily finished up this requirement by the end of my freshman year.
To fulfill the discrete mathematics portion of the degree, I took 550.171 my freshman fall and absolutely loved it as well. It was such a new way for me to look at math, and it gave me great experience with proof-writing as well as an introduction to graph theory, which has become a really interesting topic currently in my optimization class. Yet again, I finished this requirement by the end of my first semester.
Next up is the probability and statistics requirement. I still have to take both of these classes, and I have heard from numerous people that these are pretty tough courses in the applied math department. Luckily for me, I planned out my schedules during these semesters to make sure that I don’t have crazy tough semesters all while also taking these 400-level AMS classes.
The sixth requirement is optimization – and from the amount of times I’ve mentioned how much I love this class – you already know that I am taking this class right now, and will be finished with this requirement by the end of this semester.
And because of this class, I have decided to do my area of focus in Optimization and Operations Research, the other focus options being Probability and Statistics, Scientific Computing, Discrete Mathematics, and Financial Mathematics.
I decided that I’m going to take 550.362 next semester, because it continues off of what we learn in the class I’m in right now, and maybe also 550.400 because it will hopefully be taught by Beryl Castello, who instructs Discrete Mathematics and is also my advisor in the AMS department!
The last two parts of the degree are pretty straightforward. Basically, you need to have taken 40 “Q” credits and 12 “N” credits (if you want a B.S.) by the time you graduate. Using the Degree Audit function found on our registration website, I found that I won’t need to go out of my way to complete these requirements – I actually finished part 9 before even coming to Hopkins just from AP science credits!
Next up, we have to look at the requirements for public health. With my AP credits, I am already done with the calculus requirement and the biology requirement, so all that’s left in this section is the four classes, 280.335, 280.340, 280.345, and 280.350. Having already taken Fundamentals of Health Policy & Management last semester and taking Public Health Biostatistics this semester, I just need to take The Environment and Your Health and Fundamentals of Epidemiology to finish this section.
I fulfilled my introductory social science requirements by taking Invitation to Anthropology and Introduction to Social Psychology last year. I also am taking Elements of Macroeconomics this semester and am planning on taking Elements of Microeconomics next semester, so that would also count towards this requirement. I will merely choose the classes that I do the best in to count towards my PHS GPA 🙂
Then, all that’s left to do is take one of the social/behavioral public health courses (I’m in between Sociology of Health and Illness and Cultural Factor of Public Health), take three more 200-400 level PHS courses, and take my 10 credits at Bloomberg during my senior year. Lastly, I plan on tackling my applied experience during a summer internship or other public health related experience.
And finally, we have reached the distribution requirements. Because my primary major will be applied math, I need only fulfill the distribution/writing requirements for engineering students:
After this semester, I would have already fulfilled my humanities/social science 18-credit requirement through the public health major, and only need 14 more engineering/quantitative science/natural science credits through my own major and with AP credits. Engineering students also need to take 6 writing intensive credits, and having already fulfilled 3 credits through my expository writing course freshman fall, I only need 3 more writing intensive credits. And that’s it. That’s my entire double major and all of its requirements.
To summarize, and because I am sucker for organized visual displays, here is a color-coded schematic of my undergraduate career.
What is that — I can graduate a semester early? Yes, it is indeed possible. As you can see as well, there’s not much left for me to finish my majors – this puts me at ease, but also scares me a little. A part of me is excited that I am closer and closer to being able to use everything I learn in college in the quote unquote, real world, while another part of me remembers that I still don’t really have a good idea of what kind of work I want to do exactly, and questions whether or not I will even be ready for that reality. I trust that everything about my life will somehow magically work out, and even in the case that it does not, I still have this sick color-coded spreadsheet I can show off.