Align mathematics pathways.
Step 1
Map all programs of study to a single default mathematics requirement that identifies clear and predictable transfer and applicability of mathematics courses.

Establishing a default pathway enables students to make adequate progress. The leadership team’s work in setting the vision should highlight the most appropriate default pathway.

It is important to establish a single default or recommended pathway for each program. The most effective way to do this is to group programs into broad meta-majors that will help students make early decisions about general goals. We strongly recommend a single default rather than allow students to select from a number of general education courses. Program faculty should give explicit direction about the most appropriate course. Structures can be designed to allow students to use other options if appropriate.

The Guide to Aligning Mathematics Pathways to Programs of Study provides the leadership team with step-by-step instructions to align mathematics pathways to programs of study. This process takes time, and the guide helps prioritize early actions to maximize impact.

The Sample Math Pathways List shows how different institutions aligned mathematics pathways with programs of study and offers examples of how programs might be grouped.

Additional Considerations

Collaboration Between K–12 and Higher Education to Address Alignment Issues

Mathematics pathways start branching in high school after students have a solid foundation of essential algebraic, geometric, probabilistic, and statistical concepts, which are usually found in Algebra and Geometry courses. Ongoing conversations between institutions of higher education and K–12 leaders from feeder institutions will keep both sectors informed about any changes to program requirements and mathematics pathways. These collaborative discussions will also surface the types of supports needed for districts and high schools to offer a range of mathematics courses aligned to mathematics pathways at the postsecondary level.

The following practices will facilitate communication with K–12 counterparts:

  • Make time for in-person meetings that allow for productive, in-depth discussions that begin with understanding the mathematics landscape in K­–12 and higher education. These conversations should also cover course offerings, and graduation and accountability requirements.
  • Consciously work to establish an environment of mutual respect and trust based on the shared mission to serve students. Avoid any sense of blame.
  • Be mindful of terminology that is specific to either higher education or K–12. For example, college faculty often refer to courses by numbers or names that are unfamiliar or have different meanings to K–12 faculty. Take time to ensure that everyone has a common understanding of terminology that will be used.
  • Share examples and materials that help build a common understanding. Examples include course learning outcomes, assessment items, and student work.

In 2018, the Dana Center and national K–12 and higher education advocacy organizations initiated the Launch Years Initiative to modernize mathematics education for all students. Learn more about this nationwide initiative at Launch Years: Reimagining Mathematics Education (


contains a comprehensive list of mathematics course requirements from all public institutions in Texas.

Additional resources to support alignment of mathematics courses to programs of study can be found on the DCMP resource site, Learn About: Partner Disciplines page, under Essential Idea 1.

Reflection Questions

Have you considered staff and faculty capacity for taking on new work?

Do you have the support of key stakeholder groups?

​​​​​​Has the institution allocated resources to support the implementation plan?

It may be important to include the Registrar at this point to begin planning how to handle issues such as linking courses (e.g., corequisite mathematics courses) or ensuring that the registration system flags students who are required to take certain interventions.