/ General Education

Math and Natural Science

Mathematics and the natural sciences open up ways of understanding and changing the world. Familiarity with mathematical and scientific thinking are critical to navigating twenty-first century challenges.

Hope requires 10 total credits of math and natural science, including at least 2 credits of math (MA1 or MA2), one 4-credit natural science course with a laboratory component (NSL), and natural science courses representing two different disciplines (either in an interdisciplinary combination or from different single disciplines).

Many major and minor programs have their own requirements and recommendations for math and natural science courses, so it is a good idea to look at the programs you are interested in before choosing math and natural science courses. Many social science majors, for instance, require Mathematics 210, Introduction to Statistics. Most natural science majors fulfill this requirement through the requirements for their major.


The General Education Math and Science (GEMS) program offers courses designed for non-science majors. GEMS courses employ interdisciplinary approaches to enhance understanding of the power and limitations of mathematical and scientific investigation as it applies to real-world questions and problems. GEMS courses fall into three categories:

  • 2-credit mathematics (MA1) courses
  • 4-credit, interdisciplinary, laboratory-based science and technology (NSL) courses
  • 2-credit topical science and technology (NS2) courses

For descriptions of GEMS courses, see the GEMS section of the catalog.


The math component of general education will deepen your understanding of mathematical reasoning, address some prevalent misconceptions of mathematics, and demonstrate both the usefulness and the limitations of mathematical models in a variety of applications.

In addition to courses offered by the Department of Mathematics and the GEMS program, Philosophy 201, Formal Logic, also fulfills this requirement.

Natural Science

The purpose of the natural science part of this requirement is to deepen the student's understanding of the processes of science and the way in which science interprets the natural world. These courses focus both on “doing” science and on the influence of science and technology on both society and the environment. Taking at least one course with a laboratory component gives students a college-level experience of the hands-on nature of science.

Four-credit natural science courses with laboratory requirements are offered by all natural science departments as well as the GEMS program. Two-credit science courses without laboratory components are offered by the  GEMS program as well as some natural science departments.

See the catalog for a full description of the Mathematics and Natural Science requirement.