Math Camp

Need some help with your math skills? We have a course for you!

Math Camp is an ungraded refresher course to help you brush up on your mathematics skills prior to your first semester at SPEA—this course is required for you if denoted on your admissions letter.

Incoming SPEA master’s students are a diverse group on many levels, including their experience and comfort with math. Some have had little training in math, others have “math phobia,” a fear of quantitative pursuits.  Or maybe it’s been a few years since you have taken a math class.  Whether you want to increase your comfort level, advance your skills, or just help remembering how to use what you once knew, we offer two Math Camps to help incoming students regain and build their confidence.

And here is a bonus for Math Camp attendees: You get a sneak peak of life at SPEA!  You will get to know your professors before the semester begins,  gain experience with some of the types of issues you will tackle in your courses, meet the staff who will ease your way through the program, and get a jumpstart on learning about life in Bloomington.  Most importantly, you will meet some of your classmates!

We offer two sessions of Math Camp to help you advance your mathematical knowledge:

If math is an uncomfortable topic or a distant memory, Math Camp is for you. We offer a safe environment in which to explore and develop basic concepts in math. We will start with simple algebra and discuss how to execute the basic operations, set up and solve simultaneous equations, find a slope, interpret graphs, and factor functions. This course is open to MPA, MSES, and MPA-MSES students, particularly those interested in the various management concentrations. However, we welcome all students who think a basic mathematics review course would be helpful prior to beginning a master’s program at SPEA!

This advanced version of Math Camp is for students who have already taken at least one semester of calculus. It assumes an understanding of algebra and geometry, providing a quick review of these topics before moving on to more advanced topics in calculus and applications. This course is open to MPA, MSES, and MPA-MSES students, particularly students who will enroll in the more quantitative concentrations such as Policy Analysis, Energy,  or Environmental Policy and Natural Resources Management.  

Ask about your Math Camp admission status

Which Math Camp do I choose?

The two Math Camp programs are designed specifically to help you prepare for the quantitative skills you will need in the MPA and/or MSES programs.  Whichever Math Camp you choose, it will be an intense week concentrating on practical quantitative skills. The emphasis will be on tools you can use—and having fun!

Take our self-graded evaluation. If you score well and are confident in how you answered, you may not feel the need to attend Math Camp. However, if your scores are low and you are unsure of how to solve the problems on the evaluation, Math Camp is for you.

Download the evaluation tool Download the answer key

Join our online chat

We had an online chat about Math Camp on June 15, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you didn't make it, read some typical questions and answers below. 

Q. As an MPA/MSES dual student, am I required to take the advance math? I assume so, and will most likely lean that way, but just want to double check.

You have the option of taking Math Camp or Advanced Math Camp as a dual degree student. We recommend that students who are not as familiar with Calculus concepts participate in Math Camp. If you feel that you are well versed in calculus and need a review, Advanced Math Camp is for you!

Q. I have a question for the two students! Could you give an overview of any prep you did pre Math Camp? What was helpful and what wasn’t helpful?

I don't think any prep prior to Math Camp is necessary. You will have enough on your plate, as you move to a new city, prepare for graduate courses, etc. Math Camp is a good way to kick start you all into school mode again, but you shouldn't have to study or practice any math concepts prior. Math Camp is a relaxed week, so don't stress about what is to come!

Q. I am not familiar with the statistics concepts that have been mention in the syllabus. Could I get study material online to prepare before I get to the Math Camp?

We will be posting a pre-Math Camp review in Canvas for those of you who want to review concepts prior to Math Camp!

Q. Is there any specific thing we are to come with for the Math Camp, other than writing material?

We will have all of the materials here for you! All you will need to bring is a writing utensil and a scientific calculator if you have one. A scientific calculator is strongly recommended.

Q. It's been about four years since I've last had a calculus class, but I have taken it. Which course, advanced or normal, would you say fits that background?

The advanced course covers calculus concepts in more detail, while the other course is mostly focused on a linear algebra review.

Q. How do we successfully complete the Math Camp? Is there going to a test at the end of the camp?

There is not a test. You will have daily homework to help through the lessons, but nothing is graded.

Q. How will Math Camp apply to our first semester coursework in practical terms? As we are refreshed on concepts in Math Camp, how will they come into play in the first semester statistics course?

Having a better grip on math (calc and algebra) will help you understand concepts in any quantitative course at SPEA (statistics, econ, finances, sciences). Understanding why you use certain formulas in modeling and understanding the proofs gives you a better understanding of what those formulas and models are really explaining. Classes vary with their demand for quantitative skills, but understanding math will only help.

Q. How much time, on average, outside of the class in Math Camp should we plan on spending working on the daily assignments?

It depends. The assignments are designed to help you, but they are not graded. I spent more time on some days than others, depending on my understanding of the content. If I understood the concepts I spent less time on the assignments.

Q. So just to get an idea of what is expected, the camp is more about reviewing math concepts than it is learning new information? If that's the case I could use a brush up on calculus much more than algebra.

The information will be new for some and will be review for others. It had been so for me long that much of the review felt like new material again.

Q. What would you say is the most time you spent working on assignments and least? I'm just trying to think through how to allocate my time during that week.

If I remember correctly, I spent 1-2 hours tops on the assignments. The TA's are helpful after class, and they will be willing to help you through the assignments if you have questions.

Q. If we don’t understand a particular concept taught in the Math Camp and we need a bit of attention in that particular topic, how do we go about addressing our doubts?

First, go to the office hours of the TA during the week. Also you can ask the instructor. If you are still struggling, they will point you in the direction of good resources for the particular topic you're struggling with.

Q. How soon do we need to make the decision about whether to attend the "Math Camp" or "Advanced Math Camp" version of Math Camp and how do we go about indicating that choice to SPEA?

You should've received an email with a survey to indicate your math camp preference. The deadline to register is July 12, 2017.

Q. Are there some resources; like materials, that could help in personal study?

Don’t stress about Math Camp. It helps, and is structured to help sturdy your foundation heading into week one of class. People who go to math camp meet people and form relationships with their peers that will carry over into the next two years. It will be a fun week for you all, so don't worry too much.

Q. After you complete the basic Math Camp are you required to participate in the Advanced Math Camp?

You only take one. They are taught at the same time during the week prior to orientation.

Q. Since it was mentioned that a scientific calculator is recommended, does anyone have a recommendation of a good scientific calculator app for iPhone?

I am not aware of a good scientific calculator app. I'm sure there is something, though.

Q. How many students attend Math Camp?

Typically approximately 50% of our incoming class will attend Math Camp each year!

Q. Will Math Camp consist of one continuous 5 hour session each day?

Math Camp will be held from 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. each day. However, there will be breaks and faculty lectures integrated throughout the session each day.

Q. Will we be using any statistical programs during Math Camp? Am I expected to know how to use certain programs ahead of time?

Statistical software will not be used during Math Camp. On the first day, you will be provided with an instructional workbook that will be utilized throughout the week.

Q. One more question— will the Advanced Math Camp be more appropriate for specific concentrations? If so, what are those concentrations?

Advanced Math Camp is open to MPA, MSES, and MPA-MSES students. Many students beginning the MSES and MPA-MSES who plan on pursuing a more science-related concentration will attend the Advanced Math Camp. However, students who are thinking of pursuing the more quantitative concentrations under the MPA (i.e. Policy Analysis, Energy, or Environmental Policy and Natural Resources Management) may also consider attending the Advanced Math Camp.

Please feel free to email us at with any additional questions you may have about Math Camp!