Taking Online Courses or Becoming a Math Major at UIS

Taking online math classes here at UIS is a very accessible means for anyone to get an affordable, accredited education from an Illinois public institution. While UIS is a four-year institution and we have some onground math majors who are freshmen, the online degree program is meant for transfer students only.

It is anticipated that transferring students will have approximately two years of credits (60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours), and take another 60 hours here for the bachelor’s. In an ideal world, this transfer credit would already include the math prerequisites of 3 semesters of calculus, as well as all the lower division general education requirements. You may, of course, have somewhat less transfer credit or much more–possibly even a bachelor’s already completed. So for the many other situations that students find themselves in, and for the pressing questions that you want answered before embarking on this path, we have put together the FAQ below. If you don’t find an answer here, be sure to contact us for advisement. Information is on the contact page.

  1. What are the guidelines for students who don’t have exactly 60 hours of transfer credits?
  2. Which application form am I supposed to use?
  3. What is this “ECCE requirement”?
  4. How long does it take to finish the 60 credit hours?
  5. I haven’t finished all the prerequisites yet, but I will take them. Can I get into the math program now?
  6. Can I use my general electives to also get a minor online?
  7. How are the courses taught?
  8. How are assessments done? Are tests proctored?
  9. Can I really get all the degree requirements online?
  10. Can I work toward a math B.A. and a math teaching certificate at the same time?
  11. What is the Entrance Assessment?
  12. What are the costs for your program?
  13. How do I make sure I am accepted into the degree-seeking program?
  14. May I take a math course or two without signing up to be a math major?
  15. Is this alternative type of education going to be right for me?
  16. Is this online program accredited?
  17. Can I study from overseas?

1. What are the guidelines for transfer students who have more or less than 60 hours of credits?

There is an official minimum and maximum for transferable credits to the University of Illinois at Springfield. You will notice as you review the UIS Admissions website that there is a minimum of 30 hours for students to be accepted into the University.

Applicants with 30-59 credit hours will receive a conditional acceptance and can begin doing coursework here, but this does not mean they simply skip those other 30 hours. These hours must also be complete for a total of at least 120 hours in order to earn a B.A.  We have a few lower division courses available online here, but generally these transfer students will have to take additional hours elsewhere and transfer them in when they are completed.

Students who transfer in as seniors with the maximum 90 hours do not merely need to take the final 30 hours for the graduation requirement; they also need to ensure that they have fulfilled the requirements specific to their major. For math majors, this means they usually will need 42 hours: 32 core Math hours and 10 hours for the Engaged Citizenship (ECCE) requirement. General electives are usually not necessary for these students, unless Admissions has specifically informed them of a general education deficiency such as an English composition course or a lab science. For a list of the lower-division general education courses that Admissions will be looking for in your transcript, see the “Transfer” tab at our General Education  webpage, or view the Illinois Articulation’s website.

PLEASE NOTE: as you estimate the number of hours which Admissions may accept toward your UIS degree, understand the difference between lower-division and upper-division courses. Courses for freshmen and sophomores generally begin with a 1 or a 2.  These courses are fine for your first two years, but by the time you are in your third and fourth year of college you should be taking courses at the 300 and 400 level. Our Admissions evaluators will accept a little more than two years’ worth of 100- and 200-level courses (72 semester hours). Any courses transferred beyond these 72 hours must be of a higher level.

It is common today for students to go from college to college amassing credit hours, each time starting over at the freshman level, particularly if most of their transcripts are from 2-year community colleges. If this is the case with you, understand that you may very well have 150 credit hours on your transcripts and still never have passed beyond the sophomore level; thus you would enter here with the maximum 72 undergraduate transfer hours. Also, if all of those courses were just taken for interest, or are technical courses which were not part of an undergraduate degree plan, you may be lacking in the general education requirements. See the Illinois Articulation link above.

2. Which application form am I supposed to use?

On the Admissions page, when you click on Apply Now, you will see a list of several online applications. This means that all of the applications listed are available online, not that they are all applications to online programs. Capital Scholars, for instance, is a four-year on-ground program.

The mathematics program currently only offers a B.A., so you would not use a graduate application for math. (At the graduate level, we do coordinate with Computer Science to offer a Data Analytics degree.) You also would not want to apply as non-degree seeking student. The non-degree seeking application is for those who want only a course or two, not to graduate.  That application process is faster and easier, but non-degree students are limited in the number of hours they may take, and do not qualify for e-tuition. This can be cost-ineffective for students who don’t reside in Illinois.

The application you will probably want to use is either the Undergraduate Transfer Students application, or the International Undergraduate Transfer Students application if you are out of the country.

3. What is this “ECCE requirement”? Can’t I just take math classes?

The University of Illinois at Springfield has a mandate for the public and community involvement of our students. The Engaged Citizenship courses reflect and encourage that involvement. It is a standard requirement for all of our undergraduate degree-seeking students; transfer courses from other institutions will not waive the requirement.

You should review guidelines in the current  catalog  and with your advisor as you choose ECCE courses. Students coming will need ten hours of ECCE to graduate, in at least two of the ECCE areas plus the speaker series. The speaker series is made available to distance students by webcast. There is a more detailed description of the ECCE requirements on page 34 of the catalog.

As far as taking only math classes and nothing else, and getting a degree–(we do get this question fairly often)–no, not at the undergraduate level you can’t, and this is true everywhere in the country. Every state has their version of a general education requirement designed to give undergrad students a balanced education and a broad range of experience. Once you get to the master’s level and beyond, you can focus just on your desired subject area.

4. How long does it take to finish the 60 credit hours?

UIS is a traditional university, and all of our online courses follow a standard semester schedule along with the on-campus courses. We have live instructors, not just pre-posted material on a server. What this means to you is that if you receive your acceptance letter in March, you do not just register and begin courses the next day. You would get a time ticket for registration, register for a course in the next available semester, and begin on the first day of classes for that semester with everybody else. There is flexibility in class time (you may access the course material at 3:00 a.m. if you wish), but not in the semester schedule. Homework and tests must be completed by their scheduled completion date, and all coursework must be done by the final day of classes for that semester.

Anticipate spending a standard two years finishing the degree if you work at it full time (assuming that you have met all prerequisites and general education requirements coming in). We offer at least two core program courses online each fall and spring semester, so if you take each one at its first offering, you could finish the 32 core hours in two fall and two spring semesters. Some electives and colloquia are offered in the summer; these may be taken at that time or concurrently with the math courses.

Even if more than two required math courses are offered in any given semester, we discourage any student from being enrolled in more than two core math courses at the same time. It can be done, but usually it’s a recipe for hardship and lesser grades–and many of our students are trying to work at the same time as well.

You may have heard that for each hour in a typical class, you should spend two hours outside of class preparing for it and finishing assignments. The same holds true for online courses; they are not made to be easier or completed more quickly, just more accessible. Setting aside at least 12 hours in your week to sign up for a 4-hour course is a good policy.

5. I haven’t finished all the Calculus prerequisites yet, but I will take them. Can I get into the math program now?

Yes, but you will be limited in the core math courses you can take until you have satisfied the prerequisites: three semesters of calculus and one course in a computer programming language. Most of the core requires at least two semesters of calculus, or you will be lost in the course content. MAT 415, a required course, needs three semesters of calculus as a prerequisite. So you will need the three semesters of prerequisite calculus to complete the math program, and you would be better off starting the program having already finished them.

What you can do if you are accepted but don’t have all the prerequisites yet is to start taking general electives (if any are needed) and ECCE courses, and if a math course is offered that you are ready for, go ahead.

If taking your prerequisites at other colleges, avoid themed courses with titles  such as “Calculus for Business”, or “Applied Calculus”. Look for simply Calculus I, II, and III, or Calculus with Analytical Geometry.

We have three semesters of lower-division calculus available on-campus, but only Calculus III is usually offered online. If you get into one of these prerequisite courses here (whether onground or online), it does not count toward the 32 core math hours or as a general elective. All of the lower-division calculus will have course numbers below 330, and thus are not core courses.

6. Can I use my general electives to also get a minor online?

Yes—Math and some other programs have online minors. The list of current undergraduate majors and minors and graduate degrees is at uis.edu/online. If you are applying to another program, and want to get a math online minor, it doesn’t mean you are automatically earning a minor just because you are accepted into that major program. You must contact the math program to discuss requirements for the minor.

Likewise, if you apply to math or math online as a major, and another program as a minor, and are accepted, it doesn’t mean you are also automatically accepted into the minor program just because you wrote that on your application. You must contact that other program to work out the requirements.

The Teacher Education Program is also an available minor for math majors, but it will require some campus visits. See the teaching certificate FAQ (#10) below.

7. How are the courses taught?

We currently use Canvas, a common online course delivery platform. You will need a reliable internet connection but won’t be required to come to campus at any time.

8. How are assessments done? Are tests proctored?

An instructor may elect to have tests proctored in order to enforce a time limit or make sure that no resource materials are used. Some of our instructors use test proctoring; many do not. If your instructor asks you to find a test proctor, contact a college in your area, or a public library, military base, or superintendent of schools. Ask about costs; most proctors charge some fee, commonly between $10 and $50, for supervising a test.

9. Can I really get all the degree requirements online?

Yes. The choices of math electives are still somewhat limited for online students, but we have enough core courses available to allow you to earn the degree without any campus visits.

The core courses which are available online are listed as follows. Some semesters may have 3 or 4 of these classes available; do not attempt more than 2 math courses simultaneously. MAT 330 should be completed in your first semester (provided you have all your calculus prerequisites), and MAT 332 is prerequisite for 403, 404, and 415, so take that one as early as is feasible. The math core is 32 hours, or 8 4-hour courses besides the Entrance and Exit Assessments. The classes with an asterisk (*) are required for all math majors.

MAT 330 Entrance Assessment (0 hours)*
MAT 332 Linear Algebra *
MAT 336 Introduction to Differential Equations
MAT 401 History of Mathematics
MAT 431 Mathematical Statistics I*
MAT 404 Geometry
MAT 415 Advanced Calculus*
MAT 444 Operations Research Methods*
MAT 403 Abstract Algebra
MAT 421 Statistical Methods
MAT 432, Mathematical Statistics II
MAT 405, General Topology
MAT 491, Exit Assessment*

Additionally, of course, you will need to take any required ECCE courses, general electives, or lower-division general education deficiencies as noted at the time of your entrance to the program.

An important note in selecting math elective courses: do not register for a course with a number below 330, because it will not count toward your degree requirements. Do not take MAT 302 Discrete Mathematics, for instance. If these are offered, they are intended as electives for non-math majors. Also, all math courses other than MAT 330 and 491 must be taken for a letter grade, not a credit/no-credit option or just auditing.

10. Can I work toward a math B.A. and a math teaching certificate at the same time?

Yes, there are quite a few who do that. The UIS math program allows for 16 hours of general electives; all of these hours and more will be taken up by the Teacher Education Program’s requirements, so the total number of hours you’ll need to take will be higher. Some of the requirements you must complete for TEP will apply toward the UIS requirement (ECCE); you should coordinate closely with the TEP program on everything.

The Math TEP minor, while technically online, will require you to appear on campus periodically, and of course, student teaching must be done in a school. Teaching certificates are state-specific, so for the most part TEP students come from Illinois.

As you outline the courses you plan to take, note that TEP will not allow you to take other coursework in the semester you do your student teaching. Learn more about TEP math certification on the Secondary Mathematics page.

11. What is the Entrance Assessment?

MAT 330: It is a one-time test you take during your first semester of coursework as a Math major, provided you have entered with all of your calculus prerequisites complete. If not, register for this in your first semester after you complete Calculus III. It will involve questions of varying difficulty from precalc up to Calc III.

You will sign up for it as if it were a course (MAT 330), but notice that it is worth 0 credit hours on the schedule. Then during that semester you will take and submit it through the standard online course management system, Blackboard. This is the only math course that you sign up for as a credit/no credit option rather than for a letter grade.

12. What are the costs for your program?

UIS’s current tuition page will explain the current e-tuition rate. Within the fees chart, there is also a per-credit-hour online fee, so add that to the e-tuition. Online majors will not need to pay the health insurance fees, and pay a flat services fee per semester. In order to qualify for e-tuition, you must be accepted into a degree-seeking online program (see question 13 below), and take only online courses. The easiest way to get a total cost estimate is to look for the tuition calculator on that tuition page and plug in the number of hours you think you may take in a semester. This will immediately show you the entire cost, minus books.

Math courses are 4 semester hours each, and where required, some of those textbooks today can run $150 or more.

A word about scholarships: yes, online students can apply for scholarships too, provided you fit the criteria that particular scholarship is looking for. Financial aid has a page on some available scholarships for both onground and online students. This is not an exhaustive list; feel free to look other places out there too. Look into organizations and clubs that you–or your family members–are associated with. Ask whether they offer any scholarships. Check with your employer, or your parent’s employer. International students will not typically be eligible for scholarships from here, but may investigate grants from their own employer or country.

There are scams out there, so beware. A scholarship should be based on either merit or need. Be very suspicious of those which offer money to anyone who can fog a mirror. Also you should probably avoid any which ask for an application fee. A true scholarship is offered by a legitimate organization for a reason–it is not a 50/50 raffle.

13. How do I make sure I am accepted into the degree-seeking program?

When applying through the Admissions page, be sure that you declare you are applying to math online. If you have any difficulty in specifying this, contact your Admissions evaluator directly (admissions@uis.edu). If you are presently in another program at UIS and wish to be in Mathematics, you can download the form for Change of Curriculum. It needs to be signed and sent in by U.S. mail. (Unless you are in the TEP program only, which is technically a minor. In this case, if you want to add degree-seeking status, you need to fill out a full application.)

14. May I take a math course or two without signing up to be a math major?

In a word, yes. You must have the prerequisites for the course you want to take, of course, and since the department will not have received transcripts for non-degree seeking students, you may need to scan and email us proof that you have the prerequisites. There is a non-degree undergraduate application at the Admissions page, and it is a faster application process. You can often register within a day or so after completing the application. However, you will not qualify for the e-tuition rate without degree-seeking status. Non-degree students are limited to taking a total of 12 hours of coursework.

Double-check the tuition—there is a calculator for an accurate estimate of tuition and fees at the registration website. The cost could be prohibitive for you if you are out of state.  Also, some math courses fill up very quickly in registration, so coming in late in the registration period and quickly filling out a non-degree seeking application may still not get you into the class you want.

15. Is this alternative education going to be right for me?

UIS online math and all the UIS online programs are very much grounded in our nearly fifty-year history of traditional on-campus programs—they have the same instructors, content, and schedule. They are not “alternative” in any way except delivery of lessons. Our students do not start midway through semesters, “learn at their own pace”, test out of core courses, or finish a course in just a couple of weeks.

The online programs do have the advantage of making a traditional degree accessible to people who might be unable to get to the campus, due to transportation, disability, distance, or conflict with work or family schedules.

You will have a good chance for success in online education if you are:

  • self-directed, able to plan ahead and meet deadlines, and disciplined in setting your own goals
  • comfortable in a text-based learning environment
  • able to communicate electronically and adept at working online

16. Is the online program accredited?

All online degrees are academic programs of the University of Illinois at Springfield, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

This is the standard form of accreditation for U.S. colleges and universities, and it is regional. You can look up accreditation for any institution at the U.S. Department of Education; what you are looking for is something like North Central, Western, Southern, etc. This type of accreditation makes our courses and degree programs recognized and transferrable; higher education institutions must revisit this every ten years and get it renewed. Other types of “accreditation” by national groups and special interests do not necessarily make coursework transferrable; some may be desirable and sought out by programs for the recognition, but most are not worth the effort.

A few have asked whether we are accredited by CASI, the Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. This is also a division of the North Central Association, but it accredits elementary and secondary schools, so no.

You are also welcome to visit our campus whether just to see us or to look into our onground programs. See us on Google Maps.

17. Can I study from overseas?

Certainly. There are no restrictions on where you can study from as long as you have internet access. Where your transfer credits come from may be a consideration, however. As this is a transfer program, you should have 1-2 years’ worth of college credit to transfer in, and this needs to be from an accredited institution. Admissions may require you to have foreign transcripts evaluated by an independent evaluator. Also, foreign institutions often do not require general education courses such as composition and speech, which an undergraduate degree in Illinois requires. If you are an international student with no transferrable credits, contact us and we can work with another institution to meet this and ensure that you can complete the degree from where you are. If an on-ground international student graduates with a degree in mathematics, you are eligible to apply to the STEM-OPT program, a two year visa extension to stay and work in the U.S.