All About Math Degrees: Program Information and Career Outcomes
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Discover what you can learn in math degree programs and possible career options
Are you thinking of enrolling in a mathematics degree program? Math is challenging, fun to learn, and rewarding in many ways. The reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making skills you learn while studying for a math degree are incredibly useful on the job.
Mathematics is relevant to many fields and disciplines. If you are considering a math degree, keep reading to find out more about it.
What Do Students Learn in a Math Degree Program?
Mathematics is a universal language — a language of numbers taught in most education systems worldwide and at all levels, from primary school to higher education learning institutions. Surprisingly, even people who are math-proficient and enjoy solving math problems rarely consider majoring in it, mainly because they’re clueless about leveraging their skills.
Mathematics is logical and creative, and pursuing a math degree can lead to a lucrative career. But what do mathematics majors study?
An undergraduate math degree program offers an extensive curriculum featuring advanced topics in mathematics and statistics. Depending on where you study, you may hear different names like Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Mathematics, Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Mathematics, or Bachelor of Mathematics (BMath). Whatever the case is, the difference is usually just the name.
At the undergraduate level, mathematics majors learn algebra, geometry, set theory, calculus, differential equations, statistics, and anything in between. Students are gradually introduced to advanced math topics, from theoretical mathematics to applied mathematics. The blend of “pure courses” (which focus on math theories) with “applied courses” (how to use mathematics in actual job fields) is essential, especially for students who plan to work outside of academia or undertake interdisciplinary studies.
A well-structured math degree program equips students with the skills and knowledge they need for applying deductive reasoning to solve problems and prove solutions with absolute certainty. As such, mathematics is a critical ingredient for the development of scientific disciplines. Math majors constantly solve puzzles and find satisfying solutions to issues that may not even feel are approachable in real life.
Lower-level Math Classes vs. Higher-level Math Classes
Math degree programs are often flexible, with a few options for students. Typically, students start with lower-level math classes, where they are prepared for higher-level classes.
Lower-level math classes focus on pure or theoretical or foundational mathematics. On the other hand, higher-level math classes teach more advanced mathematics topics, focusing on modeling, which provides the basis for solving real-world problems and using mathematical techniques correctly in different disciplines.
If you enjoyed math classes and performed excellently in high school, a career in math might be right for you. Pursuing a math degree program helps develop critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, time management, analytical, and problem-solving skills, which are highly valuable in real life. You can easily deal with real-life situations and emerging issues with a math degree.
Math Degrees to Consider
A variety of math degrees exist. Some degrees are focused on theory while others are concentrated on specific job fields. Here’s a quick guide to different areas of mathematics studies. Read a brief description of the degree, and explore its average salary outcomes and the state with the best average salary median.
Mathematical Theory Degrees
Math theory studies mostly focus on the research of mathematical functions, aka “pure math.” Students in these degree programs will mostly be involved in developing theorems, proofs, and abstract concepts; building a background in math that will suit them in careers requiring high-level mathematical thinking. A theoretical degree is a good fit for those who are interested in working R&D jobs or pursuing academic careers.
Topology is the study of relationships between geometry and analysis. One example of topology is the usage of triangular equations in geological surveys. Job fields that find this degree useful include science and engineering. The U.S. average salary median is $85,000 and California features the highest average salary median.
Math analysis studies specialize in the area of mathematics that deals with functions used, such as continuous functions, limits, differentiation, integration, and other related theories. Think of it as majoring in calculus, of which analysis is a branch. The job fields attainable with this degree are mainly the same as with topology (science and engineering, teaching, and R&D). The U.S. average salary median is $85,000 and California features the highest average salary median.
Algebra and Number Theory
Algebra and number theory degree focuses on using algebra to solve number theory questions. Somewhat the opposite of analysis. Think of it as majoring in algebra. The job fields attainable with this degree are mainly the same as with topology (science, engineering, teaching, and R&D). The U.S. average salary median is $85,000 and California features the highest average salary median.
Applicable Math Degrees
Applied math degrees focus on applying mathematical computations to solve real-world problems. Although theoretical degrees might qualify individuals to work in various industries, the skills and techniques learned in “practical” mathematics programs will most likely propel your career in the private sector or specific job fields.
Applied and Computational Mathematics
Majors with applied and computational math degrees focus on applying established math theories and methodologies in a variety of job fields, from science to technology and other areas of work. Popular careers include business intelligence, data science, bioinformatics, and data management. The U.S. average salary median is $75,000 and California features the highest average salary median.
A financial mathematics major applies math theories to the finance industry or areas of personal finance. With this degree, a person can develop financial models and analyze financial data sets using statistics. The skills learned with this degree can apply to a variety of industries and job fields outside of finance. The U.S. average salary median is $69,000 and Massachusetts features the highest average salary median.
A math biology degree program focuses on applying mathematic theories to biology and life sciences. Areas include genomics, molecular modeling, structural biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, and systems of analysis of neurobiology, physiology, and metabolism. The U.S. average salary median is $74,000 and California features the highest average salary median.
A degree in statistics and probability prepares a person to apply the mathematics of statistics to real-world problems. This major is applicable to any different job field including finance, business intelligence, data science, and biology. Individuals who aren’t interested in working in an industry can work in education as teachers. The U.S. average salary median is $70,000 and California features the highest average salary median.
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