Math 374: Differential Equations

Spring 2020


The grade breakdown, and exams have changed (see below) now that the course is being done virtually. For now, we will meet on Blackboard using Collaborate Ultra.

Important Links

Instructor and Meeting Times

Instructor: Nathan McNew
Office hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 11-11:50 and Wednesdays 3:00--3:50
Office: 326 (2 × 163) 7800 York Road
Lecture: Monday and Wednesday 4:30--5:45 Room 217 Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Note that you do not need an appointment to attend regularly-scheduled office hours. If you have a conflict you may make an appointment to meet outside those times.

Course Description and Objectives

Course description:
Theory and application of linear ordinary differential equations: homogeneous and nonhomogeneous linear equations, initial and boundary value problems, exact equations, variation of parameters, Euler equations; solutions of non-linear ordinary differential equations of the first order and second order; power series solutions; system of linear equations.

Course objectives: This is a course in Ordinary Differential Equations. The word "ordinary" means that the equations considered in this course will only have one independent variable. After this course students should understand the basic terminology of differential equations, understand the various methods of solving linear differential equations, and how to apply them to model various systems. Students will also learn the basic theorems that guarantee the existence and uniqueness of solutions to various differential equations.


A first course in Differential Equations by Dennis Zill. (10th edition) Other selected resources may also be posted here.


Problems will be assigned regularly on the homeworks tab of this page. Students are expected to work through these problems to practice the material, and are encouraged to ask questions in office hours regarding any difficulties they encounter. These will not be collected, however these problems or problems similar to them are likely to appear on quizzes.

Occational written assignments will also be given, which will be listed on the schedule tab of this page. These assignments will explore concepts more in depth, including applications and use of technology. Solutions to these assignments must be written up carefully. These written solutions must be turned in at the beginning of class to receive full credit.

Students will be asked to participate in class, by presenting solutions to homework problems and asking/answering questions.

Expect to spend a substantial amount of time studying, working on homework and preparing for the course. The general rule is two to three hours outside class for each hour inside; this translates to about 6-9 hours of homework and personal study per week.

Additionally, each student is responsible for writing up notes describing what was covered during two lectures during the term. These notes should be written up clearly using latex and submitted to the instructor within a week of the class period. Students are also encouraged to include additional examples/explanation. Notes will be posted for use by the rest of the class. Sign up for class periods here. Note: these notes will count as one written assignment.

Regular quizzes will be given in class, generally on Mondays. These quizzes will cover material from the homework assignments. The lowest quiz score (including one missed for any reason, excused or unexcused) will be dropped. Instead of a Third midterm exam there will be a project instead. More details to come.


There will be three two midterm exams and a final exam covering the material presented in lectures, readings and on homework assignments. The schedule for the midterm exams is tentative.

Midterm 1 Midterm 2 Midterm 3 Final Exam
Monday March 2nd Wednesday April 22nd Monday May 4th Wednesday, May 13th

If you have a conflict with a scheduled exam contact your instructor as soon as possible.


Grades will be assigned based on homework, in class presentations and participation, and labs and exams. They will be weighted in the students final grade as follows:

Component Contribution
Written Assignments and typed course notes 14%
Quizzes 20%
Written Assignments, quizzes and typed course notes 35%
Midterms (each) 12%
Midterm Exam 1 20%
Midterm Exam 2 15%
Project 10%
Final Exam30% 20%
Letter grades will be assigned based on the following scale, but may be more generous: A ≥ 92 > A- ≥ 90 > B+ ≥ 88 > B ≥ 82 ≥ B- ≥ 80 > C+ ≥ 78 > C ≥ 70 > D+ ≥66 > D ≥ 60 >F.

Disabilities and Religious Observances

Any students with disabilities, including "invisible" disabilities such as chronic diseases and learning disabilities are encouraged to discuss appropriate accommodations with the instructor, either after class or during office hours.

Towson University is committed to providing equal access to its programs and services for students with disabilities, Students with disabilities should visit the Accessibility and Disability Services Web page, to learn about how to arrange for any appropriate accommodations. It is the student's responsibility to let the instructor know when he/she is a student with needs in this area. A memo from Disability Support Services (DSS) authorizing your accommodations will be needed.

If you have a religious observance that conflicts with your participation in the course, please meet with me before the end of the second week of the term to discuss appropriate accommodations.

Course Policies

Academic Integrity: This class is conducted in accordance with the Academic Integrity Policy. Cheating or plagiarism in any form is unacceptable. In particular:

On Quizzes and Exams: No assistance may be given or received except that you may ask the instructor for clarification of a problem. Calculators are not permitted.

On Homework: You are permitted and encouraged to collaborate with other students on the homework. However, after discussing the problems, you must write up the final solutions in your own words. You may use calculators and approved software. Additionally, you may consult your class notes and text. It is not permitted for someone to provide the answers for you. It is not permitted to submit answers found on the internet as your own work.

See this page from the MAA for information on how to avoid plagiarism in mathematical writing.

Class attendance is expected. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get the material and the homework assignment from your fellow students.

Diversity Statement: Towson University values diversity and fosters a climate that is grounded in respect and inclusion, enriches the educational experience of students, supports positive classroom and workplace environments, promotes excellence, and cultivates the intellectual and personal growth of the entire university community.

Updated 3/21/19