Few schools offer online math programs at the doctoral level, but master's degree programs in mathematics are available in a fully online format; applicants typically need a bachelor's degree in math or a closely related field. Students can complete these programs in 1-3 years, depending on whether they study part-time or full-time.
Math education programs are also available online at the master's degree level. Some programs prepare students for initial teaching certification, while others are designed to advance the careers of professional, certified teachers. Programs that lead to initial certification could require in-person student-teaching experiences.
In order to be successful in an online master's degree program, students need to be sure that their computers are equipped with the necessary software. For instance, they may need to have a word processing program and Windows Media Player.
Master's Degree in Mathematics
Online master's degrees in math are designed for students with strong mathematics backgrounds. Students typically take courses in areas like calculus, algebra, differentials and computing. Some programs focus on applied mathematics, which teach students math concepts that complement other fields, such as computer science, manufacturing or engineering. Graduates of online math programs can find positions in finance, insurance, government, industry, business or the sciences, but master's degree programs also prepare students for doctoral work in mathematics.
Details and Information
Most programs can be completed entirely online. Some programs require students to complete a handful of independent study credits during the last year of the program. A comprehensive exam is typically required at the end of the program.
In order to complete their coursework, students need a computer running a recent operating system, an updated browser, an email address and a reliable broadband Internet connection. Some courses may require additional software - such as Windows Media Player - to view and listen to different types of media. Students should have word processing software to complete assignments.
List of Common Courses
Courses in an online master's degree program in math cover a wide range of topics, such as numerical methods, mathematical communications and numerical analysis.
Calculus of Variations
This course covers topics such as Lagrange multipliers, space-time problems, fluid mechanics and electromagnetics. Students also discuss Hamiltonian systems.
Students learn such mathematical concepts as the geometry and algebra of complex numbers, elementary functions, contour integrals, power series expansions, residue theorem and complex functions. They also discuss the Cauchy-Goursat theorem and the Cauchy integral formulae.
Topics in this course include computational approaches to solving computing problems. Students present data and share scientific results.
Master's Degree in Mathematics Education
Online master's programs in mathematics education train students to teach math at K-12 schools or junior colleges. Schools that offer these programs generally expect students to have bachelor's degrees in mathematics or education. Some programs offer state certification to those without prior teaching experience; other programs provide more in-depth study to already certified teachers.
Details and Information
Most schools allow students to specialize in specific areas of mathematics education. Specializations for middle school, high school and junior college are commonly offered. Some programs offer primary school specializations. Most students are able to complete the program entirely online within two or three years.
Students interested in completing the program online should have access to a computer with a recent operating system, a fast Internet connection, a Web browser and an email address. Plug-ins may be required to play various types of media. Other software and equipment may be required depending on the learning methods used by the school.
List of Common Courses
Courses in an online master's degree program in mathematics education combine education-oriented topics with advanced mathematical training.
Mathematics Teaching and Learning
This course teaches students how to promote mathematics learning in the classroom. Students discuss national teaching standards, evaluate literature in the field and learn various instructional approaches to mathematics.
Technology in the Mathematics Classroom
This course focuses on integrating technology in the classroom. Students learn how to use multimedia tools to promote understanding and critical thinking in mathematics.
This course covers systems of linear equations, vector spaces and determinants. Students learn how to teach and apply linear algebra concepts.
Career Outlook for Graduates
Graduates of online master's programs in math can find positions in finance, insurance, government, industry, business or the sciences, and they are qualified for many professions including actuarial work. Actuaries use their mathematical knowledge to calculate risks and help insurance companies design policies to minimize those risks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary of actuaries was $110,560 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Employment opportunities for actuaries are expected to increase 18%, much faster than the average for all occupations, from 2014-2024.
The career outlook for those who earn a math education master's degree is quite different. As of May 2015, the BLS listed the mean annual salaries for teachers at $57,730 for elementary school, $58,760 for middle school and $60,440 for secondary school. For postsecondary mathematics teachers, the mean annual salary as of 2015 was reported as $77,290. Employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is expected to grow 6% (as fast as the average for all occupations), and 6% growth (slower than average) is projected for secondary school teachers from 2014-2024. Job opportunities for postsecondary math teachers are expected to increase 16%.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of online master's degree programs in math education can pursue Ph.D. programs. Students that acquire doctoral degrees in education can take on positions in teaching leadership or education administration.
While PhD programs in math are rarely available online, interested graduate students may consider an online master's degree in math or math education. Both programs include advanced mathematics courses, but math education programs additionally include theoretical and practical training in instructional techniques so that graduates can become math teachers.