Skip to main content

Request info

Understanding college math requirements

A student with long, curly hair sits at a table, using a notebook and pencil to work on a math problem.

Don’t let college math get in the way of earning your degree online from Oregon State University

By Carly Johansen


Math isn’t everyone’s favorite subject. In fact, for many, math is the reason they’re hesitant to pursue their educational dreams.

If you’re considering earning a degree online but are deterred by the prospect of taking math in college, find the answers to some of your burning questions below.

“I was nervous taking college math before I enrolled at Oregon State University,” says Erin Traub, who earned a bachelor’s degree online in psychology. “The idea of math in college seemed like a movie with a professor writing a bunch of symbols on a chalkboard in front of 300 students who all seemed to know what they meant. It wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be.”

Traub was surprised by how much support is available to online students, and you may be, too. Whether you took your most recent math class last summer or a decade ago, OSU makes sure you’re set up for success in college math.

Let’s take a look at common questions and the resources available to Oregon State’s online learners.

Answers to frequently asked questions about math at OSU

1.    How do I figure out the math requirements for the degree(s) I’m considering?

All undergraduate degree programs at Oregon State require the completion of baccalaureate core (more commonly known as general education) courses. In most programs, the baccalaureate core requires at least one, 3-credit college math class.

At Oregon State Ecampus, we’ve built a handy degree comparison tool to help you evaluate programs side by side while you determine which path is right for you. You can compare online undergraduate degrees to get an overview of program requirements, including math, internship requirements and more.

From there, you’ll also find links to each degree’s curriculum and required courses in OSU’s academic catalog.

2.   How do I know I’ll pass the math classes I need for my degree?

Oregon State, like many colleges and universities, uses a platform called ALEKS. ALEKS is a placement assessment helps you pinpoint exactly which math course you should start with. Your personalized ALEKS math assessment may cover skills from courses like pre-algebra, algebra I, algebra II and geometry.

After your exam, you’ll receive a score that correlates to which math class you should enroll in first at Oregon State. Don’t worry, this score isn’t an official grade; it’s only used to help you know where to begin.

And remember: ALEKS is designed to help you start in the class that’s right for your current skill set. If that means beginning at an earlier level of math before advancing to your required courses, know that you’ll be working toward long-term success.

“I am very glad I placed low in ALEKS. I don’t think I would have been as successful as I was in the later math classes had I not had refresher courses,” says Annmarie Floyd, an OSU online student majoring in marketing.

3.    How do I know if I’m ready for college math? What if I haven’t taken math in years?

One bonus of the ALEKS assessment is that you’ll be able to understand where you stand before you enroll in classes. If you want to brush up on your math skills before you take the ALEKS exam, check out the plethora of online resources available for free from resources like Kahn Academy, Paul’s Online Math Notes or Professor Leonard on YouTube.

You can take the assessment twice, so consider the first time through a way to check your skill level. Then, you can review your results, study up and try again.

And Oregon State offers math coursework online that starts with elementary algebra, so don’t let the fact that it’s a university-level course deter you from taking on the challenge. You’re up for it.

Finding success as an OSU student

Once you start your first term learning online, Oregon State Ecampus has support in place for you, no matter which math class you enroll in. Your instructors want you to succeed, and they’ll work hard to ensure you feel confident in your skills, through every part of your course.

Traub says, “My math instructor created a discussion board that gave extra credit for asking and answering questions, so the whole class was super active and really worked to help each other understand the material.”

Beyond your instructors and classmates, OSU’s online students have access to free online tutoring through Pear Deck Tutor and virtual tutoring through OSU’s Mathematics and Statistics Learning Center. You also have a virtual community of students within the Ecampus Learning Community where you can reach out to your peers to form study groups.

And if you are looking to improve your study skills and set yourself up for success in your online learning journey, you can connect with the Ecampus student success coaches. They’ll work with you one-on-one to find practices that work for your study style and life obligations.


Still have questions? Connect with an Ecampus student ambassador or our enrollment services team via email, phone, live chat or scheduled call.

Book an appointment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *