A Student Perspective on the Math Department


Welcome to Harvard! We’re glad you’re interested in math! We hope the following advising guide for navigating the math deparment will both consolidate useful information and give you a student perspective on courses and other opportunities. The Math Department has plenty of official advising resources as well, such as the new department website, the course catalog, the Director of Undergrad Studies (currently, Professor Dennis Gaitsgory), and many others.

This document is strictly written by students, for students about the math department. As a result, its information is based on student responses and opinions — either on the Q guide, on surveys GIIM has sent out, or from students we have spoken to. Remember that while our opinions are hopefully very useful, they are still opinions and may not necessarily apply to your circumstancees. There is generally a great diversity of perspectives about any particular math class, and we encourage you to attend GIIM advising events or to speak with other students in the math department (perhaps at Math Night, through our joint mentorship program with HUMA, or just contacting GIIM board!).

If you would like to contribute a quote, or notice something wrong/misleading in this document, please e-mail GIIM board as soon as possible, and it will be fixed immediately.

If you’re interested in helping write this document or other inclusivity measures, please join GIIM by signing up for our mailing list or emailing GIIM board as above.

Table of Contents

Selecting Your First Math Course
Core Math Courses Beyond Freshman Year
Other Math Courses
Being a Math Concentrator
If You’re Interested In….
Research Opportunities
Writing a Senior Thesis
Getting Involved in the Department Community


We acknowledge a number of people who made the creation of this website possible. Specifically:

  • Michael Fountaine, Davis Lazowski, and Grace Chen (the GIIM Advising Committee) for helping us gather information
  • Professors Hiro Lee Tanaka, Clifford Taubes, Dr. Robin Gottlieb, and other preceptors in the Math Department for giving us feedback on this pamphlet.
  • Rosalie Belanger-Rioux for providing us with the necessary information from the Math Department to complete this document.
  • Cameron Krulewski, Elba Alonso Monsalve, Amanda Glazer, and Vikram Sundar (GIIM Board) for carrying out this project.
  • Esther Plotnick, Natalia Hajlasz, and all of 2019-20 GIIM board for contributing to updates of this pamphlet!