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Chalk board with equations. Photo Credit: Brad Plummer

Why I Chose the MCS Major

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Chalk board with equations. Photo Credit: Brad Plummer


As someone who is broadly interested in quantitative methods, Mathematical and Computational Science (MCS) seemed like a natural fit. I knew that I wanted a deeper mathematical education than I had encountered thus far, but I also wanted to explore applications beyond pure theory. The MCS major ensures that all students have a common quantitative foundation, but its interdisciplinary approach across four departments allows students to see how to apply a similar set of tools in a variety of ways. From here, the flexibility in choosing breadth or depth allows students to further pursue their passions.

These benefits came together to transform my intellectual experience at Stanford. For example, I realized that I had a passion for theoretical computer science -- a field I never knew existed -- because I was required to take CS 103. The flexibility the major afforded allowed me to change my academic plan in order to follow CS 103 with other theoretical computer science courses that captured my interest. I don't expect every student to have the same interest I do, but if they are still attempting to discover their academic passions, MCS seems like an ideal way to explore fields like statistical analysis, modeling business problems, mathematical theory, and computer programming. Unlike in other majors, this exploration does not come at the cost of making progress in the major, and thus students never have to worry that they are falling behind in their graduation progress.

From a practical level, few majors seem to open as many doors. If a student wants to follow the trend of going into Silicon Valley, MCS provides plenty of opportunities for programming experience. If they want to go into academia, the quantitative background of the major will serve students well in a variety of disciplines. I am going into management consulting, and my experience with a consulting internship last summer showed me that my background gave me an edge in learning Excel and building mathematical models.

For students who know that their intellectual curiosity leads them in quantitative directions, MCS is ideal. No other major affords the same combination of breadth and depth, and the exploratory opportunities provided allow students to learn about fields they never knew existed.

Zach Robinson

Mathematical and Computational Science
Class of 2016

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