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 does not supplant a Calculus I-III sequence. Rather, it provides a guided review of calculus utilizing content from the Khan Academy and MathIsPower4U*, 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 seek out opportunities for taking a full Calculus I-III sequence prior to applying to our M.S. program. When that is not possible, we recommend utilizing one the following strategies to improve their chances of acceptance:

  • 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. During Certificate studies or upon completion of the Certificate, students can apply for the M.S. in Biostatistics - all coursework toward a completed Certificate can be applied to the M.S. and the Math Tools course sequence can fulfill the calculus requirement.
  • Apply directly to the M.S. in Biostatistics. Students without the required background in calculus cannot be fully admitted to the M.S. program. However, if all other prerequisites for admission are met, students may be granted provisional admission, contingent upon successful completion of Math Tools courses. Students interested in this path should contact us for further information and must apply for admission in UofL's Summer term (when Math Tools courses are offered).

Students interested in gaining admission to the MS through the Math Tools sequence should note that these courses are highly intensive and require substantial amounts of work. Students should be prepared to spend significant amounts of time reviewing videos and solving problems outside of class. We do not recommend Math Tools to students have not had prior, relatively recent exposure to precalculus-level mathematics.

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 and MathIsPower4U materials used in these courses are available for free at, and, under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Click on the following links for a list of Khan Academy and MathIsPower4U material accessed in PHST 561, PHST 562, and PHST 563.

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