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MENU: Frequently asked questions

Who participates in MENU?

MENU enrolls a diverse group of students. The common characteristic of successful MENU students is a passion for mathematics!

What are the benefits of participating in MENU?

MENU courses develop topics in more depth than do standard mathematics courses. Many departments at Northwestern offer courses that use advanced mathematical concepts and techniques which our standard courses may only touch upon. MENU covers many of these topics in detail. The analytical skills acquired from a serious study of mathematics will benefit you throughout your future career.

Do MENU participants receive more attention than students in standard mathematics classes?

In general, yes. Class sizes are usually small, and you are more likely to have the same instructor for an entire course sequence. The longer-term relationships you build with MENU instructors and with its director enhance opportunities for advising, letters of recommendation, and independent study.

How will participating in MENU affect my other studies at Northwestern?

MENU courses replace some standard courses and serve as prerequisites for more advanced ones. (The tables below detail how MENU courses substitute for standard courses in the mathematics curriculum.) Participating in MENU will neither require you to take more courses in mathematics, or fewer courses in other areas, than you otherwise would have taken. Nor will participation in MENU obligate you to major or minor in mathematics, although many MENU students choose to do so.

Do MENU courses require more time and work than standard courses?

In general, yes. Examinations and assignments are more demanding, expectations are higher, and MENU courses often demand a greater time commitment than standard mathematics courses.

Is there a separate application for MENU?

No. Students satisfying the eligibility criteria through an Advanced Placement Calculus examination should receive an invitation to participate in MENU during the summer before their first year. Qualified students who do not receive an invitation may inquire about their eligibility by sending email to the the Director of MENU at

I did not take an AP Calculus exam. Are there alternative criteria for eligibility for MENU?

Students satisfying any of the criteria listed below qualify for MENU even though they will not automatically receive an invitation. They may inquire about their eligibility by sending email to the Director of MENU at

How do I obtain a permission number to register for a MENU course?

To obtain a permission number for MATH 291, MATH 321, or MATH 331, visit the Director of MENU ( Other MENU courses do not require permission numbers.

What first-year courses are available to MENU students?

There are two year-long sequences available to MENU students, 290-1,2,3 (accelerated linear algebra and multivariable calculus), and 291-1,2,3 (intensive linear algebra and multivariable calculus, with an emphasis on theory). Both sequences develop linear algebra before multivariable calculus and treat their subject matter in greater depth than the standard curriculum.

What is the difference between 290 and 291? 

MATH 290-1,2,3 focus mainly on computational aspects, albeit ones which require strong conceptual understanding. MATH 291-1,2,3, by contrast, mostly emphasize theory and proofs and are appropriate for students who are particularly skilled in and passionate about mathematics. Consult with the Director of MENU if you are interested in taking MATH 291. Students may transfer between 290 and 291 with permission from the Director of MENU.

When do Math 290 and 291 meet?

MATH 290 meets Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays either at 10am, 11am, or 12pm, with a required discussion section on Thursday at the same hour. MATH 291 meets Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 12pm, with a required discussion section on Thursday at the same hour. If you have been invited to participate in MENU, but have been assigned to a freshman seminar which conflict with these times, then please contact the Assistant Dean of First-Year Students to inquire about changing your seminar to one which does not conflict with MATH 290 and 291. Email the Director of MENU if you need assistance. 

Can students who have already taken multivariable calculus still participate in MENU? 

Yes. Please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies at or the Director of MENU at for advice specific to your background.

What courses do MENU participants take after the first year? 

After the first-year MENU participants can opt for one of the 300-level MENU courses or for standard 300-level courses in mathematics. There are three 300-level MENU sequences:

Must I take only MENU courses after the first year? 

No. A standard mathematics course that is popular among MENU participants is MATH 300 Foundations of Higher Mathematics. 

Do MENU participants have to take all of the 300-level MENU courses? 

No. MENU is flexible. Participating allows you to enroll in MENU courses, but does not require you to do so. However, the earlier quarters of each MENU sequence are prerequisites for the later quarters, and each 300-level MENU sequence has one of the 200- level MENU sequences as a prerequisite.

How many students enroll in MENU?

Combined enrollment in MATH 290 and 291 across all sections is usually between 100 and 120 students, while combined enrollment across all 300-level MENU courses is usually about 70 students.

Can participants withdraw from MENU? 

Yes. No formal withdrawal is necessary. Participating allows you to enroll in as many, or as few, MENU courses as you wish, subject to satisfying the prerequisites.

Can students in the Integrated Science Program (ISP) participate in MENU?

First-year ISP students should enroll in MATH 281, the first-year ISP mathematics sequence. For ISP students who are particularly passionate about mathematics, it may be possible to take MATH 291 instead of MATH 281. Consult with the Director of ISP to pursue this option. Rest assured that declining the invitation for your first year will not prevent you from taking MENU courses later. ISP students who have completed the MATH 281 sequence may consult the Director of MENU about enrolling in 300-level MENU courses.

Can students in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences (MMSS) participate in MENU? 

First-year MMSS students entering directly from high school should enroll in MATH 285, the first-year MMSS mathematics sequence. Rest assured that declining the invitation for your first year will not prevent you from taking MENU courses later.  If you have not been accepted to MMSS directly from high school, you may apply for sophomore entry into MMSS. Those accepted as sophomores who have already completed MATH 290 or 291 will be exempt from MATH 285. MMSS students who have completed MATH 285 may consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies about enrolling in 300-level MENU courses. 

Can students from schools other than WCAS participate in MENU?

Yes. Students from other schools should consult with their academic advisers for help in planning their schedules around their school requirements and MENU courses.

How can I obtain answers to additional questions about MENU? 

Send email to