Calculus is a field of mathematics that deals with the rate of change of functions. Universities typically offer this course over three semesters and cover topics in one dimension, also known as single variable calculus, and two and three dimensions, also known as multivariable calculus. This advanced mathematics course requires students to have thorough knowledge of college algebra and pre-calculus, and it is a common requirement for a number of college majors.


Students who are interested in majoring in mathematics in college have to take calculus. Three semesters of calculus, also known as calculus 1, 2 and 3, are fundamental to both students interested in pursuing Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. These courses are prerequisites for all other courses in the major as well as most upper-division electives. For example, many math majors take courses in differential and partial differential equations at the end of their bachelor’s program. These courses build upon topics such as systems of linear equations and the power series, which were first introduced in calculus.


Physics is a very mathematically rigorous major that uses mathematics as a tool to understand the phenomenon of the physical world. Students who are interested in majoring in physics in college take an introductory physics course at the beginning of their programs that requires them to already have a good understanding of calculus 1. Though requirements vary across universities, most Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programs in physics require students to take calculus 1 and 2 as well as a course in multivariable calculus, also known as calculus 3.

Computer Science

Computer science is the study of computing and computer applications. It teaches students about the hardware, software and design aspects of computers. Most undergraduate programs in computer science lead to a Bachelor of Science, but there are also ones that lead to a Bachelor of Arts. Both degrees are mathematically rigorous and require students to have a strong background in mathematics, and take courses in calculus, linear algebra and probability. In particular, most programs require students to take calculus 1, 2 and 3, which cover differentiation and integration in both single and multiple variables.


Calculus is also a core requirement in all engineering programs. Universities offer many different kinds of engineering degree programs including civil engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering and biotechnical engineering. These programs use mathematics and physics as tools to solve real-world problems and therefore require all graduates to take calculus in the beginning of their programs. Requirements vary across programs and engineering specialties, but most Bachelor of Science programs in engineering require students to take at least two courses in calculus.