Graduate Programs for Mathematics Majors

Jan 04, 2019

Those who have earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics are good candidates for a range of graduate program options, both in mathematics and in fields requiring a strength in this area.

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A mathematics major provides a strong foundation for further study. Graduate students might consider earning a master's degree in a range of fields in which strong quantitative analysis skills are needed. They also might want to work toward a Ph.D. in mathematics or applied mathematics. Read further to learn more about the degree options.

Relevant Master's Degree Programs for Mathematics Majors

Some students may wish to apply their knowledge of mathematics to other, related fields. Depending on a student's career interests, mathematics majors have the potential to excel in any of the following graduate degree programs.

Master of Science in Finance

Mathematics majors who wish to move into positions in the business world could consider earning a Master of Science (M.S.) in Finance. This degree can often be earned in one year of study. Courses might include corporate finance, derivative markets, and portfolio management. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree, and many programs prefer a major or minor in a quantitative area. They should also submit a personal statement and resume. Some programs may require submission of GRE or GMAT scores. Candidates with experience as an accountant or other highly quantitative business fields may be more competitive.

Master of Education

For mathematics majors who are interested in teaching math at the middle or high school levels, a Master of Education, or M.Ed., can provide a pathway into this field. The degree can usually be completed in a year of full-time study. Courses may include methods in middle/secondary education, problem-solving strategies, and assessment. A practicum, where students are responsible for working with a veteran teacher and teaching mathematics courses, is required to gain experience. Typically, applicants should have an earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics or a closely related field. Transcripts, a statement of intent, and a resume should be submitted. If specific undergraduate courses were not taken, a plan to complete these prerequisite classes may be required before enrollment. Passing state-required tests of basic knowledge for teaching certification may be required prior to program entry.

Master of Science in Data Science

The M.S. in Data Science provides students with the skills and knowledge to break down large sets of data into actionable information for businesses, government, or other organizations. The degree is usually completed in two years of study. Courses may include software design for data science, information visualization, and machine learning. A capstone course may include a project using real-world data to solve a local or national problem. Typically, applicants should hold a bachelor's degree with extensive coursework in mathematics, statistics, and computer science. They will usually be asked to submit transcripts, essays, a resume, and recommendations. GRE scores may be required. Admissions are often highly competitive, and a minimum of a 3.2 GPA may be expected.

Doctoral Study in Mathematics vs. Applied Mathematics

Some students considering graduate study will wish to pursue a Ph.D. directly in the field of mathematics. For these students, consideration must be given as to whether to pursue this degree in mathematics or applied mathematics. A master's degree is not usually required for admission and will often be earned during the course of the Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. in Mathematics

Those who wish to pursue careers in teaching and researching at the college level, or in research and development in industry, may wish to consider earning a Ph.D. in mathematics. Program completion requirements typically include coursework, qualifying examinations, and a dissertation of original research. Courses may include commutative algebra, algebraic number theory, and modern geometry. Applicants should have pursued a range of mathematics courses in their undergraduate preparation, including calculus, multivariable calculus, and differential equations. They should submit undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, and results of the GRE general exam and mathematics subject area exam. Any experience in mathematics research should be detailed in the application.

Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics

Individuals who wish to focus on mathematical methods and their uses in a range of fields such as science, finance, and computer science might consider a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics. Program completion typically requires core courses, qualifying exams, and a research dissertation. Core courses may include applied probability, scientific computing, models in applied math, and differential equations. The interdisciplinary nature of this field means that electives could be taken in a range of other departments. Applicants should expect to provide transcripts, personal statements, a resume, GRE scores, and recommendations. Undergraduate courses in calculus, complex analysis, and numerical methods are expected.

Mathematics majors have the quantitative skills to pursue a range of graduate degrees. Depending on the desired career pathway, a wide variety of options are available at the master's and doctoral levels.

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