Though the prestigious California Institute of Technology announced in August it would drop calculus as an admissions requirement, many other elite colleges have stayed the course.
CalTech recently announced a list of acceptable substitutes for its requirement of one-year’s academic course in calculus, chemistry and physics for first-year applicants:
If a student is unable to take a calculus, chemistry, and/or physics course in high school because it is not available to them or they experience unresolvable course conflicts, Caltech will accept examination scores or certification showing evidence of knowledge in the subject in lieu of an academic course requirement, provided both the student and their counselor document the underlying unresolvable issue(s).
But... calculus is still expected at many Top 20 colleges
Princeton looks for some applicants to complete the class if they have access to it. Likewise, MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Purdue strongly recommend or encourage at least some applicants to take the course in high school.
Cornell was alone among the 20 in still mandating calculus. In fact, the Ivy League school tells incoming freshmen that at least one of their two letters of recommendation must be from a math teacher and they are “strongly encouraged” to make that person their precalculus or calculus teacher.
MIT follows a similar model as CalTech; it wants incoming freshmen to have two semesters of calculus but allows them to place out of the requirement either through outside credits or by taking an Advanced Standing Examination.
Calculus is not required for admission to any University of Michigan school or college, including the College of Engineering and the Ross School of Business.
The University of Minnesota doesn’t demand calculus for entry to any of its undergraduate programs. However, the school does prefer that students study the topic at some stage: It’s mandatory for some majors, though it can be taken at the college level.
Neither calculus nor precalculus is a requirement for first-year admissions at the University of California. However, those interested in STEM, data science and the social sciences are “strongly encouraged” to consider a math course sequence that prepares them for calculus — either during high school or in their first year at the university.
Stanford recommends four years of rigorous mathematics — including algebra, geometry and trigonometry.
“We also welcome additional mathematical preparation, including calculus and statistics,” its website advises.