I asked this question before, but now I knew who to form it correctly after doing some research for months. It always puzzles me what someone need to know before enrolling in bachelor of software engineering in terms of math. For example: supposedly the person who's enrolling understands all the basics of math (e.g. addition, division...) with little advanced topics such as algebra etc.., what are the basis he/she required to know before studying the math involved in software engineering ? I see this topic unclear in many places, some people argue it's not required, but they don't provide sufficient proof for that claim.

My questions:

1) How much mathematical knowledge someone needs before enrolling to a bachelor degree of software engineering ?

Another way of asking the question:

2) How much mathematical knowledge someone needs before taking calculus, linear algebra,discrete mathematics or any math taught in a computer science class ?

For example I heard when studying calculus the student must study first linear algebra as I remember from what I read, calculus is all about continuous topics of linear algebra so the person who's willing to study that must have knowledge of the prior topic (linear algebra).

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would think it is the other way around. Linear algebra does not involve calculus at its basic level, but I believe it takes some math maturity to learn it. Calculus is more basic topic of mathematics. Before that, you should have a very good skill of high school algebra, knowledge of functions, and trigonometry. $\endgroup$
    – KittyL
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 15:13
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I feel like you are dramatically over thinking the issue for day 0 of a bachelor's degree. If you got accepted to a reputable institution, I can only wager that you will be fine. It would make your life a lot easier if you knew your basic high school mathematics otherwise your first couple months may be hectic. $\endgroup$
    – JessicaK
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ This will depend highly on the specific place you are going to study. At the university I study, you are not expected to know linear algebra for example. The expected is high school algebra, trigonometry, basic calculus (simple rules-based differentation, integration). $\endgroup$
    – Eff
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 15:18

2 Answers 2


I have degrees in Math and Computer Science. The Computer Science degree requires a certain amount of math - I believe through Calc 2 and a couple classes off the "linear path" like Math Logic. It only takes a couple more classes for a minor after that and a few more for a major.

As for what knowledge you need prior to calculus, I suppose you need pre-calc, often taught in high school. Otherwise you will have to take that in college as well. Linear Algebra isn't on the same course path, but is usually taken after calc 2 or 3.


I assume that you are a high school student.

The mathematics you will need to complete before graduating high school and applying for a bachelor's degree in software engineering depends on how you want to go about it. For any engineering major, I strongly recommend taking some calculus before leaving high school and going to the university. I would then recommend taking it again at the university level. For someone whose profession will be engineering, a solid foundation in calculus is tremendously helpful. Ultimately your job will involve a lot of differential equations and linear algebra.

The prerequisite classes for calculus are algebra, trigonometry and precalculus (though sometimes precalculus is not necessary). You must take all of these classes as well.

However, the best advice I could give you is to start getting involved with software as soon as you can. You can take courses on websites like Coursera for free, and you can use StackExchange to help you with any confusion you may have. Getting to know programming before you get into the university will help you tremendously with your coursework, and it will give you a leg up on a lot of topics.

  • $\begingroup$ The program mentions calculus(1,2) as general education and discrete mathematics as discipline education. $\endgroup$
    – direprobs
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ The idea is that you will be taking Calculus 1 and 2 as well as discrete math as you pursue your degree. You don't have to come in knowing about them. I stand by my recommendation. $\endgroup$
    – Joel
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ Try to take a Calculus course before leaving high school, and learn as much programming as you can on the side before entering the university. That's the best you can do for yourself before you start. $\endgroup$
    – Joel
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ @ Joel here are the main knowledge units of math given to me by the university for the program: Function, Limit, Derivative, Differentiation, the Application of Derivative, Indefinite Integral, Definite Integral, Multi-function Integral Calculus, Ordinary Differential Equation of Advanced Mathematics;Discrete Mathematics,such as Relations, Congregation, Basic Logic, Testifying Technique, Computer Basis, Diagram and Tree, Discrete Probability. Though, I already graduated last year. $\endgroup$
    – direprobs
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ These are really just a description of the classes we already mentioned: Calculus: Functions, limits, differentiation, application of derivative, indef integral - Calculus 3: Multivariable Integral Calculus - Differential Equations: Ord. Diff. Eq. $\endgroup$
    – Joel
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 17:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .