Math Tools

For students interested in seeking our M.S. in Biostatistics but lacking the required background in calculus, or students needing a mathematical refresher, we’re pleased to offer our summer term, fully online Math Tools courses to help out.

Math Tools I-III provides a guided review of calculus utilizing content from the Khan Academy*, with enhancements, practice problems, assignments, and assessments from our faculty. We don't provide a full treatment of calculus. Rather, we cover the tools and skills necessary to successfully complete the more mathematical coursework required in our M.S. degree. Math Tools IV offers coverage of basic concepts from linear algebra, necessary for some of our available M.S. elective coursework:


Course NameSummer TermTopics Covered
PHST 561 - Math Tools ITerm IFunctions and graphs with particular focus on polynomials and roots, rational functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, limits and continuity of functions

PHST 562 - Math Tools IITerm IIFirst and higher order differentiation of single variable functions, applications of differentiation including identification of minima, maxima, and inflection points, antiderivatives, the definite integral, the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, techniques of integration including substitution, integration by parts, etc.; using integrals to compute areas, sequences and series, convergence of each, partial and infinite sums, geometric series, Taylor series.

PHST 563 - Math Tools IIITerm IIIMultivariable functions, limits, and continuity, partial differentiation and its applications, multiple integration and its applications

PHST 564 - Math Tools IVTerm IIIVector/matrix algebra and operations, solving systems of linear equations, vector spaces, linear independence, rank, basis, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, orthogonal vectors and projections, quadratic forms

Potential applicants lacking the mathematical background for full admission to our M.S. are encouraged to utilize one the following strategies to improve their chances of acceptance:

  • Apply to the UofL Graduate School as a non-degree student, and enroll in Math Tools I-III in the summer term. After successfully completing Math Tools I and II (typically, a grade of B- or better in each), apply for full admission to the M.S. program while taking Math Tools III. You’ll be eligible for provisional admission to the M.S. contingent on completing Math Tools III.
  • Apply directly to the M.S. in Biostatistics. If all other prerequisites are met, you may be granted conditional admission to the M.S. program, with the condition that you complete certain Math Tools courses in the summer prior to your enrollment. Upon successful completion of the assigned Math Tools courses, you'll be unconditionally admitted. If you believe prior to applying that you'll need Math Tools before full admission, it is advised that you apply for Summer semester admission.
  • Apply to the Certificate in Biostatistics, which does not require prior calculus coursework. While working toward the Certificate, students can enroll in Math Tools courses as extra classes, in consultation with a faculty advisor. Upon completion of the Certificate, students can apply for the M.S. in Biostatistics - all coursework toward the Certificate can be applied to the M.S., and the Math Tools course sequence fulfills the calculus requirement!

If you have any questions about Math Tools or these paths to acceptance to the M.S., don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re more than willing to discuss your prospects for admission to our M.S.

* All Khan Academy materials used in these courses are available for free at www.khanacademy.org. Click here for a list of Khan Academy material accessed in these courses.

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