Math Education Online: Masters Degree Program Overview

Apr 27, 2021

Essential Information

Students looking for distance learning master's degrees in math can find several options through traditional four-year universities or colleges. These graduate programs may be geared toward those who want to teach mathematics at the community college or high school level. Others are designed to provide skills needed to work in scientific research, engineering, manufacturing or other industries.

Online programs may lead to degrees such as a Master of Arts in Mathematics or a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and submit recommendation letters and a resume. Students can complete coursework entirely online, but periodic on-campus meetings with an advisor are often required.

Information and Requirements

To gain admission to an online graduate degree program, students must have already earned a bachelor's degree. Schools may not require that applicants have an undergraduate major in math, but they need to have completed a significant amount of credits in the field in areas like calculus and algebra. GRE scores, recommendation letters and work histories are often admission factors as well. Once enrolled in a program, a master's degree in math can be earned online in roughly two years.


Students earning distance learning master's degrees in math are expected to know complex variables, boundary value problems and theoretical proofs. Many online math master's degrees require courses in fields heavily relying on math, such as computer science, engineering and economics. In addition to degree requirements, students enrolled in these programs must finish independent study and research components. Courses include the following:

  • Linear algebra
  • Numerical analysis
  • Scientific computing
  • Cryptography
  • Numerical methods
  • History of math
  • Multivariable calculus
  • Partial differential equations
  • Vector calculus
  • Dynamical systems

Learning Format

Participants in an online math master's degree use video conferencing and instant messaging to communicate in real time with professors and classmates. Students complete assignment and examination independently but under strict deadlines. Many distance learning graduate programs have students meet with a faculty advisor on campus a few times a year.

Possible Careers

Individuals with graduate degrees in math apply their knowledge to a variety of fields and subjects. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals with graduate-level education in math traditionally work in math-intensive areas, such as finance, computer science and engineering. Many individuals with graduate degrees completed through a distance learning program choose to teach math at community colleges and high schools. Graduates may consider careers in actuarial science, insurance and other forms of risk management as well.

The BLS projected employment for mathematicians, who must have advanced education in math, to increase 26% between 2019 and 2029 ( Salaries vary widely based on employer, experience and location. For instance, the BLS reported that the 2020 average wage for mathematicians working for scientific research and development services exceeded $131,010, while those working at universities averaged $72,440. In contrast, high school teachers earned an average of $67,340 per year.

Experienced math students who want to take advanced coursework can enroll in online master's degree programs in the field, which provide lectures and assignments through virtual platforms. Graduates have the advanced skills necessary for careers in business or education.

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