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BE Advised

The place to go for undergraduate advising in biological engineering

Mathematics (16 credits required)

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  • Calculus for Engineers  (4 credits): MATH 1910
  • Multivariable Calculus for Engineers (4 credits): MATH 1920
  • Engineering Math (Differential Equations) (4 credits): MATH 2930
  • Engineering Math (Linear Algebra)  (4 credits): MATH 2940


All math courses in this sequence must be completed with a grade of C- or better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: I have AP credits. How do I get credit for those?
A1: You must have the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) submit your scores to Cornell.
Q2: Should I use my math BC AP credit to go directly into MATH 1920?
A2: Be very cautious about this if you earned a 5 on the Math BC AP exam, and if you earned a 4, definitely take Math 1910. MATH 1920 is regarded as the most difficult of the four engineering math courses. Students who embark on MATH 1920 without a solid mastery of MATH 1910 material as taught at Cornell are in for a bumpy ride.  Some students fail it (any grade under a C- means it has to be repeated) and others find they must devote so much effort to it that they shortchange other coursework, leading to problems later in their program.  Are you worried? Seriously, you should be.

If you wish to use AP credit to place into MATH 1920, we require you have a score of 133 or better on the summer math diagnostic exam, to take the math department placement exam for MATH 1910 (usually offered on a Sunday morning during Fall orientation) and to discuss the results with your advisor. We also recommend that you sign up for ENGRG 1092, the MATH 1920 help course. If you want to step up to MATH 1920, we’ll stand behind you, but you have to go into it with your eyes open, and you have to have a plan for getting back into MATH 1910 if you have a rocky start in MATH 1920. More details are on the FAQs page under Transfer and AP Credit.
Q3: I have transfer credits.  How do I get credit for those?
A3: Engineering math transfer credit is determined by the Cornell mathematics department and you must submit your previous math coursework.  Math 1910 and Math 2940 are the easiest to substitute with a transfer course. For math 1920, your course should cover Green’s Theorem, Stokes’ Theorem and the divergence.  Occasionally exceptions are made, but don’t count on them. Math 2930 is extremely difficult to substitute, so plan to take that here.
Q4:  I am an internal or external transfer student in Biological Engineering, and am unsure which math course will be the best for me.
A4:  For more info on Cornell math courses visit the math department website:

General information:

Transfer credit:

Briefly, you will need to sign up for an appropriate course in the engineering math sequence unless you are one of the rare students doing the CALS Interdisciplinary Studies major with a BEE advisor.

Transfer students who have qualms about their readiness for the next math course should plan to sit the appropriate Sunday morning math exam during orientation. Check the orientation document for details. In 2017 both exams began at 10:15 am and lasted about two hours. Take the exam in 228 Malott Hall if you are deciding between Math 1110 and Math 1910, and the exam in 155 Olin Hall if you are deciding between Math 1910 and Math 1920 or Math 1920 and Math 2930. Be sure to discuss the result with your advisor.  The results of the exams are not binding.
Q5:  I took the summer engineering math online diagnostic, and scored 123 or below, so I have been required to take an intro calculus course over the summer to prepare me for Math 1910.  How is this handled administratively?
A5:  First of all, pre-enroll for both Math 1110 and Math 1910 unless you have decided for sure that you will be taking Math 1110.  If you took a summer course, bring evidence of a passing grade, for example a transcript or certificate.  If you studied with a tutor, bring a letter from your tutor stating what you covered and how well you did, plus a portfolio of your work.  Finally, if you did not have a chance to take a summer course, be prepared to take the Math Department Calculus 1 placement exam.  This exam is offered at about the same time every year; in 2017 it was offered on Sunday August 23 (the Sunday during orientation) at 10:15 am in Bache Auditorium, 228 Malott Hall.  (Note, this is not the same exam as the Engineering Math Placement Exam) Bring a calculator and some sharp pencils.  The test will last about 2 hours and the results will be sent to the BEE department the next day.  Be prepared to discuss your score with your advisor.   Based on your performance in the course, tutoring or placement exam, and your discussion with your advisor, you will finalize your enrollment in either Math 1110 or Math 1910, and drop the other course on the first day of classes.

For students that have taken a Calculus AP exam in addition to the summer engineering math online diagnostic test, we use the more conservative result to advise you in math placement. So if you are an entering first-year student, don’t blow off the summer online math diagnostic exam! We take it seriously and so should you.



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