The primary purposes of College Algebra are to develop problem-solving capabilities that follow logical patterns and to provide the essential algebraic background for work in other fields or courses. The main mathematical topics in this course are functions and graphs, polynomial and rational functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, conic sections, sequences, and series. The historical development of these topics, as well as applications to life and culture, will receive emphasis where appropriate.

College Algebra is taught in a lecture setting. However, there is much interaction between students and the teacher through examples and problems, worked and presented in class. The teacher presents situations to the students that require reasoning intended to produce better problem-solving skills. Problem sets in the textbook constitute the main source of assignments to be completed outside of class, but the students may be asked to complete reading assignments from sources other than the textbook, write on topics of a mathematical nature related to the history of the solution of a particular problem, or use computer based programs to develop solutions to problems.