I am considering taking what should be considered a remedial math class, though is actually credit bearing at my university, so I can spend more time solving monthly problems/ studying graduate level theory on my own. Would subverting the curriculum, and reducing the problem of acquiring credit hours to a problem solved in or before middle school, be looked down upon by graduate schools? I have always heard that graduate schools only care about your math grades, only care about how much math you have studied.

  • 1
    Taking easy courses to focus on one's major is a time honoured tradition --- if you get the credits, it doesn't matter if you think it's a 'remedial class'. I can't comment however, as to how this will look for admissions if you don't plan to also take graduate courses for credit.
    – Matthew G.
    Jan 29, 2014 at 21:26
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    Are you a math major? My answer (and aeismail's) assumed so. If not, then please make it clear in your question.
    – RoboKaren
    Jan 23, 2015 at 13:29
  • I should have transferred to Orono. USM is not strong in math.
    – Wakem
    Sep 21, 2021 at 17:58

2 Answers 2


I assume that you are talking about applying to graduate programs in mathematics, rather than in other disciplines.

To take remedial courses so that you can focus on "graduate level theory" on your own seems like a spectacularly bad idea. Why would a grad school take someone whose transcript shows remedial courses instead of accomplishments in upper-level undergraduate and graduate coursework? It also weakens your overall transcript in the process, since the remedial course will stick out like a sore thumb. Moreover, without some mechanism for documenting the work that you've done on your own, you won't easily be able to convince an admissions committee that you've actually done the work!

If you want to do graduate-level work, just take the graduate-level courses corresponding to what you want to do.

  • I go to a small school and took all of the upper divisions in my first 1.5 years.
    – Wakem
    Jan 29, 2014 at 21:51
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    Then you take advanced-level work, petition for independent study supervised by a faculty member, ask to take classes at a nearby larger school, or find another solution that allows you to continue doing upper-level work. You do not take remedial courses.
    – aeismail
    Jan 29, 2014 at 21:53
  • I should have transferrred. Orono has graduate level sequences.
    – Wakem
    Sep 21, 2021 at 17:59

Taking remedial or lower-level classes in your own discipline/major sounds like a recipe for disaster. At best you'll be seen as lazy, at worst your own competence in your chosen discipline will be suspect.

There is a time-honored tradition of taking easier courses outside of your major/discipline in order to gain some more balance in your life and still earn enough credits for graduation. Ask your peers (or advisor) for the names of these courses -- the time-honored fictional one is called "UWB100: Underwater Basketweaving for Beginners."

While these will still be listed on your transcript, at least they won't cast suspicion on your disciplinary competence.

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