Top Schools for Math

Math programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. At some schools, students can choose between concentrations in pure math, which covers topics such as geometry and probability theory, and applied math, which emphasizes the use of math to solve problems in such fields as computer science and physics.

School Information

The four schools discussed below include two premier research institutes, one of the largest private universities in the country and an Ivy League school. All four schools offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics and have received high rankings from U.S. News & World Report in 2017 for the quality of their graduate-level math programs.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA

School Highlight: Undergraduate math majors at MIT can choose between concentrations in applied mathematics, pure mathematics and general mathematics, and non-majors can get a minor in the field.

Undergraduate math majors at this high-profile school have the chance to participate in the William Lowell Putnam Competition; qualified graduates may pursue Doctor of Science and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in math. In 2017, the graduate math program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was tied for #1 on the U.S. News & World Report list of the best graduate-level math programs, and it also earned a top five ranking for six other specialty areas that include discrete mathematics, geometry and applied math.

New York University in New York, NY

School Highlight: NYU is home to the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, which supports research in the field and hosts regular lectures by leading mathematics researchers from around the country.

According to U.S. News & World Report in 2017, New York University (NYU) had the best graduate-level applied math program in the country. NYU offers master's degree programs in mathematics and financial mathematics; a Ph.D. in Mathematics is also available. Students in the financial mathematics program can participate in the Mathematical Finance Research Seminar, through which experts in the field exchange ideas and research. At the undergraduate level, math majors take courses in calculus, linear algebra and vector analysis. They can also pursue a joint major in math and computer science or economics. The school also offers a Math Peer Mentor Program, where new math majors are matched with third-year and fourth-year peers for guidance and assistance with studies.

Princeton University in Princeton, NJ

School Highlight: Each year during the fall semester, about 1,400 undergraduate students enroll in math courses at Princeton.

In 2017, Princeton was tied for #1 on the U.S. News & World Report list of the best graduate-level math programs. It was also in the top ten for six specialty areas. Through the Mathematics Department, Ph.D. candidates pursuing a degree in applied and computational mathematics can specialize in discrete mathematics, computational physics, differential equations or probability theory. Undergraduate requirements for math majors include courses in complex and real analysis, algebra, geometry and discrete mathematics. Students are also encouraged to suggest classes they'd like to see in the curriculum. Additional program features for undergraduates include opportunities for research and study abroad.

California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA

School Highlight: The school introduces undergraduate math majors to topics in creative mathematics and encourages studies in a wide range of topics to help prepare for future careers, such as finance, economics, computer science and engineering.

At Caltech, students can earn a bachelor's degree or Ph.D. in mathematics. Professors have expertise in a wide range of fields, but the school is particularly well-known for faculty contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, algebra, geometry and logic. Caltech is also home to a top-notch mathematics library, which has over 20,000 books and 250 journals. As of 2017, Caltech was tied for #7 on the U.S. News & World Report list of the best graduate-level math programs. It was also ranked #3 in the applied math specialty.

Top Math Schools in the United States

These schools also offer some of the best math programs in the United States:

  • Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, organizes outreach programs for local high school students, middle school girls and K-12 teachers.
  • Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, offers funded interdisciplinary research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate math students.
  • The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute at the University of California - Berkeley hosts colloquia for local and international mathematicians.
  • At the University of California - Los Angeles, the Merit Track in Mathematics is offered to advanced incoming freshmen who would like to complete both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  • The University of Chicago in Chicago, IL, offers professional development seminars for math teachers.
  • The University of Texas at Austin hosts the Saturday Morning Math Group, a community outreach program for middle and high school students.

Whether you want to study math at the undergraduate or graduate level, there are both public and private universities in the United States providing programs that feature unique coursework taught by expert faculty.

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