Careers in Math: Typical Courses & Degrees

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  • 0:02 The Field of Mathematics
  • 0:33 Math Degree Requirements
  • 3:45 Careers in Math
  • 5:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

This lesson will introduce students who are considering a major in mathematics to the types of degrees available. Careers stemming from mathematics degrees will also be discussed.

The Field Of Mathematics

Mathematics is an incredibly difficult field but very important in the changing technological world of today. Mathematicians find themselves in high demand. A 2012 survey ranked computer and math majors as the second highest earning potential majors (second only to engineering). This was true for both experienced and straight out-of-school graduates. These numbers certainly give a positive outlook to any student with strong math skills looking into a major in math.

Math Degree Requirements

So, what courses would be required for a degree in Math? Did you know there are actually two math degrees? You could seek to earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA), which is part of the Liberal Arts program and offers students more room to take interdisciplinary supplemental courses, or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Math, which is part of the School of Science programs and focuses students on more pure math courses.

Both degrees require theoretical and applied high level mathematics courses, including calculus I, II, III and IV (for most universities). They also require courses such as linear algebra and statistics. Often, both degrees also require physics. The difference is that the BA requires fewer high-level (300 and 400 level) courses than the BS degree. The BS may also require additional mathematical-based science courses. Clearly, strong competencies in math and science are required for a degree in math.

Many students opting for the BA in math will use their elective course work to minor in a supplementary field in order to guide their post education career path. Common courses paired with mathematics degrees are:

  • Education
  • Economics
  • Business
  • Government/Politics

With the additional high level math courses required to earn a BS degree in math, most BS students would not have room in their normal program to add a minor course of study.

Both the BA and BS degrees take about four years to complete if going to school full time. However, some universities have a Terminating Master's Mathematics Degree, which is a degree that skips the bachelor's degree and allows the student to complete a master's degree in approximately five years from the start of their education.

So which degree is best? Well, that really depends on you and your future goals. Typically, students earning a BA in math leave school and enter the workforce, but students earning a BS in math continue with their education to achieve higher level degrees.

Remember that a math major is a professional-school major, which means it is designed for specific career training and education but is not required to continue in the career field. This means that you are not tied to one specific career path after graduation (as you would be if you were in a medical program or any other specific career path educational program).

Do you remember that 2012 report I mentioned earlier? The one that said math majors were the second highest earners? Well, according to that survey, recent math graduates average about $46,000 a year, and that increases to $76,000 per year with experience. So, you can see the years put into your degree could really pay off with the right career.

Careers in Math

Speaking of entering the workforce, what careers can you get with a bachelor's degree in math? The following are some of the careers available in the business arena of the workforce for math majors:

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