Mathematics & Physical Sciences

The study of mathematics or the physical sciences requires a combination of creative thinking, detailed analysis, and organized problem-solving skills. At The College of Idaho we provide the opportunity to expand and develop these skills as you acquire a broad range of mathematical and scientific knowledge.


A scrappy crew of 13 Yotes rose before dawn on December 3, 2016 to test their skills in the 77th annual Putnam competition. This strenuous six-hour examination is one of the world's toughest math contests, with an average score very close to zero points. This year, three C of I students earned sought-after positive scores: Sam Chandler scored 10 points, while Johanna Mori and Will Callahan each scored 2. Congratulations to them and to all C of I participants!

Sam and Will didn't stop there: with Leo Trujillo and under the watchful eye of Visiting Assistant Professor Thomas Cameron, they participated in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling, a grueling 96-hour ordeal that took place during Winter Break.

A record 3 C of I teams participated in the 7th annual Kryptos competition, another multi-day competition involving cryptanalysis---the breaking of secret codes. Dynamic duo Sam Chandler and Will Callahan solved all three problems, a C of I first! Florence Wavreil, Leo Trujillo, and Erik Nordquist solved two of the three. These are the best result from the competition for any Idaho teams! We hope the freshman team of Aurora Cossairt and Virginia Harness will be back for more next year. Congratulations to all of this year's Putnam, MCM, and Kryptos competitors!

Why study mathematics and physical sciences at The College of Idaho?

Our department provides an engaging and pragmatic curriculum that fosters student understanding of the nature and structure of mathematics and physical sciences, and encourages exploration of computational methods and mathematical applications. Our professors are dedicated to helping students develop critical thinking skills that are necessary for understand a rapidly changing and technologically-driven world.

The College offers majors in mathematics, mathematics-physics, and mathematics–computer science, which all include core coursework incorporating problem-solving, abstract analysis, computer programming, and applications, as well as additional upper-division courses in each of the three disciplines. Minors are offered in mathematics, physics, computer science, and technical and analytical skills in the natural sciences. A dual-degree engineering minor provides tracks in biological systems engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, environmental engineering and mechanical engineering.

Career opportunities for mathematics and physical sciences majors/minors

An understanding of mathematics and the nature of matter and energy, along with the ability to think critically and solve problems, is essential to many careers. Our graduates have pursued successful careers in a wide variety of fields including business, computer programming, economics, education, engineering, finance, law and medicine.