Distance Learning Graduate Math Degree Options

Apr 22, 2021

Essential Information

Several schools offer online Master of Science degree programs in mathematics or applied mathematics. These degrees can be earned entirely through distance learning courses. Some schools require that exams be proctored.

It takes between 1 and 3 years to complete a master's program in math, depending on if the student is full- or part-time. Students need to have a bachelor's degree. If the undergraduate degree is not in mathematics or a related area, students should have completed prerequisite courses that give them a solid background in advanced mathematics.

In a master's degree in mathematics program, courses cover advanced algebra, calculus, valuation, scientific computing and complex variables. Students learn to use computers to solve mathematical problems. Since many graduates are heading for careers in engineering, manufacturing or research, most programs include courses in problem-solving in business, engineering and science.

Master of Science in Math

In private industry, such as research labs and engineering firms, mathematicians generally need to hold a doctorate. However, statistical or systems analysis careers that use math extensively are open to graduates with a master's degree and no Ph.D., and the federal government employs many mathematics professionals who ended their studies with master's degrees. Distance learning programs offer a Master of Science in Mathematics or Applied Mathematics. Students learn advanced skills in calculus, algebra, valuation, scientific computing and complex variables.

Program Information and Requirements

These distance learning programs are usually completed entirely online; however, some schools require proctoring for testing. Depending on full-time or part-time status, the programs take 1-3 years to complete, requiring 32-40 credit hours.

Classes are accessed from any personal computer. Some schools use a specific online learning system, such as Education at a Distance for Growth and Excellence (EDGE), to streamline Web-based courses and archive them for later access.

List of Common Mathematics Courses

Online courses in graduate-level math programs focus on advanced skills in calculus, statistics, algebra and geometry. Emphasis is also placed on solving problems in business, engineering and science.

Complex Variables

This class emphasizes solution techniques using specific problem examples in engineering and science. Students also study the calculus of residues and conformal mapping, the Taylor and Laurent series, elementary and holomorphic functions, contour and complex integration, the complex plane and integral theorems.


Advanced calculus theory and application are the concentration of this course. Topics covered include Riemann and contour integration, axiomatic characterization of real numbers, Lagrange multipliers, legendre transformation, sequences, functions, limits, continuity, differentiation and infinite series.

Linear Algebra

Students in this course learn to use numerical methods in linear equations, least squares and matrix eigenvalue problems, interpolation and quadrature. Various methods, decompositions and modifications are taught and used to solve ax = b.

Computing and Technology in Mathematics

This class provides an introduction to state-of-the-art technology used in mathematics. Students also learn computational, project-oriented approaches to solving problems, and graphical techniques used to communicate scientific results.

Career Information

Graduates with a master's degree in math are qualified for careers as math teachers, statisticians, operational research analysts and computer systems analysts. Mathematicians, who generally have a Ph.D. in addition to a Master of Science in Mathematics, earned a median annual wage of $110,860 in May of 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment in the field is expected to grow by 3% between 2019 and 2029 (

Continuing Education Information

Although a master's degree offers many opportunities, mathematicians can improve their employability by continuing their education in doctoral degree programs. These programs are typically not offered as a distance learning option.

Many Master of Science degree programs are available online in mathematics or applied mathematics. These programs require a bachelor's degree and emphasize advanced skills in areas such as calculus, algebra, complex variables and scientific computing.

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