The study of mathematics acts as a theoretical framework for students who may be interested in practical studies in science, architecture, or engineering. Other students study mathematics for its own sake. Some programs allow students to choose a specialization, such as applied mathematics or teaching mathematics.
A distance-learning master's degree program in mathematics is delivered by many universities in an entirely online format. This program typically ranges between 30 to 36 hours and takes about two years of full-time study to complete. Students may need to have access to specialized software in order to participate in these programs.
Skills emphasized throughout a master's degree program include deductive reasoning to sleuth out the next step in a sequence, demonstrating mathematical proofs and passing mathematical knowledge on to others. Students take courses in the following:
- History of mathematics
- Current problems facing mathematics
- Statistical models
- Logical analysis
- Algebraic systems
- Number theory
Through a Web medium provided by the school, professors will post lectures and readings for students to absorb when they can. They will also post assignment details and due dates. Required readings may include the following:
- Excerpts from college mathematics textbooks
- Latest difficulties or discoveries within the fields of pure and applied mathematics
- Notable articles written by scholars regarding key mathematical proofs
- Example problems that include solutions
Communication with Instructors and Peers
Additionally, classes are taken through the university's virtual medium. Using this program, students can participate online through discussion forums or other chat systems. A chat system may also allow for students to create a long-distance study group or check each other's work before submission.
Professors will also typically hold online office hours where scholars who have pressing questions can contact their teacher for an immediate response. There is also usually an alternate method of communication between professor and student that will be reliable but not as immediate.
Some master's-level mathematics courses may require specialized computer software programs, such as Maple or MATLAB. If required, student versions of the programs are typically available for purchase through the school's book store. Students will likely need to have computer capability to stream live video, and a fast Internet connection, such as through cable broadband or DSL, is recommended.
Students are able to build their class schedule around their daily lives, taking courses on their own time and at their own pace. This flexibility, along with the ability to take courses from anywhere, is often a primary draw to distance-learning programs such as the online master's degree in mathematics.
Online master's degree programs in mathematics give students the chance to study advanced mathematical concepts in a more flexible format than a traditional on-campus program. All communication and assignment submission is done online, so students must have a reliable Internet connection and computer software.