Posted in Curriculum, HS4CC, Math

Math Sequence Chart

This simple chart demonstrates when your math sequence can generate college credit alongside high school credit.

Typical Math Progression  

  1. Arithmetic  (grades k-8)
  2. Pre Algebra (grades 6-9)
  3. Algebra 1 (grades 8-10)
  4. Geometry (grades 9-10)*
  5. Algebra 2 (grades 10-12)
  6. Trigonometry / Pre-Calculus (grades 10-12)
  7. Calculus (grades 10-12)

*geometry may fit between Algebra 1 and 2, after Algebra 2, inside the Algebra course, or omitted entirely. Each math curriculum publisher handles this slightly differently.


Duplication of Time & Effort

We often think of college classes as significantly harder or more advanced than high school classes, but in the math sequence, once your teen hits a certain level, they are already doing the same math that they’ll do in college. Since high school math is never worth college credit, teens often have to retake a subject they’ve already learned. This duplicates their time, effort, and money! If you want streamline the process, you can use college level math in high school when they hit that point in the typical math sequence.

More About Each Path

Non-STEM 4-year degree: Students earning a 4-year degree in a major that is not Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM), often do not have math requirements. Most non-STEM majors don’t have math requirements.  The “general education” requirement will have some type of math, but you can shop around for low math colleges if desired. The college’s “general education” requirement will be the minimum for everyone in every major, so non-STEM majors could still have a high general education math if you attend a “mathy” college. Always look at a target college’s “general education” requirements. Since most colleges will only require 1 general education math class, you can find your target college’s math requirement on the chart above and see how much math is required to get there. The number usually indicates level of difficulty. For instance, MATH105 should be easier than MATH121, but this is more of a guideline than a rule.

STEM 4-year degree: Students earning a 4-year degree in a STEM major (or business) will have math requirements beyond the “general education” core and many will serve as prerequisites for other classes. (example: Calculus 1 credit may be a prerequisite to registering for General Physics) Occasionally, a STEM major’s math “starts” at Calculus 1, so lower maths like Precalculus, it may not “count” towards their degree, but this is low hanging fruit. Always grab the low hanging fruit! I’ve met hundreds of people that changed majors or changed colleges, so it’s never a bad idea to have extra math credit “in the bank.”

Other: If your student is looking at a short-term training, 2 year degree, license, apprenticeship, vocational program, or something other than a 4-year degree, their math requirements may look very different from the chart above! Many occupations require specialized math. When you notice a different suggested course of study, you’ll want to pay attention to suggested sequence. A student preparing to be a welder or pipe-fitter needs solid geometry skills. The more you know about their target occupation, the better prepared you’ll be at guiding them. In another scenario, a teen who attends cosmetology school may not have a math requirement at all, but bookkeeping and business math are excellent math choices for a student who might one day open a salon of their own.


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Site Owner, Homeschooling for College Credit

2 thoughts on “Math Sequence Chart

  1. My state appears to require 4 years of math including geometry in high school. I was trying to figure out if I needed a separate geometry class. Is geometry typically covered in college algebra? For example would ASU universal learner college algebra include geometry? It’s difficult to tell what is actually taught in college algebra.

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    1. Great question Karen. No, Geometry at that level is high school math. There is such a thing as college geometry, but that is going to be an upper level math class for a math major, so not what we’re talking about here. If you teach geometry as its own subject, you can do that as one of the years of math you need. College Algebra is actually going to build on Algebra 2 and or Precalculus (depending on the exact scope and sequence of the curriculum/textbook) so it is usually wise to take College Algebra *after* Algebra 2. If you’re trying to do a sequence, you could do Algebra 1 & 2 and hs Geometry followed by College Algebra (that will only take 1 semester but will = 1 high school credit, so anything after that would be a “5th” math).

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