What Is Math?
Math is how humans add, subtract, divide or multiply just about anything. It’s the universal language on Earth and is used for everything from doing your taxes to determining the cost of your groceries. Math is a highly applicable major for undergraduates and can be a great entry to sectors like finance, banking, insurance, and sales.
What is a Math Major?
Math majors take a course load founded in algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics. They work daily with numbers and patterns, and will likely study subjects like logic and problem-solving. Though many math majors pursue graduate-level programs in the same field, it is not uncommon for some to build on their undergraduate degrees and pivot to fields such as engineering and computer science at the graduate level.
What to Expect as a Math Major
Types of Math Classes
Undergraduate math programs may vary depending on where you enroll, but students often take courses including:
- Logic and Foundations
- Complex Variables
Skills Learned in a Math Major
Students who enroll in an undergraduate math program should expect to obtain a range of useful skills that can be applied to real-world professional roles after graduation. Skills like problem-solving, quantitative analysis, logical thinking, and communication are essential for students to internalize to excel in the field of math. Whether you intend on entering the job market immediately after graduation or are exploring graduate degree programs, internalizing each of these skills will provide a strong foundation to build upon when new academic or professional challenges present themselves.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Math Degree?
The time it takes for students to earn a math degree is based on a variety of factors, and prospective applicants must assess each of these to determine how long they’re going to spend in the classroom.
Existing credits - If you are applying after already taking undergraduate classes, it may be smart to check with the admissions office to verify if these credits can be transferred to your current program.
Online education - If you’re enrolling in an online program, you may be eligible to select courses that are asynchronous and can be taken on your own time.
Traditional degree path - Enrolling in a full course load (i.e. 4-5 classes/semester) will allow students to complete their degree in less time than those who choose to only take a part-time course load (i.e. 2-3 classes/semester).
Accelerated programs - There are also programs available that are accelerated to allow students who wish to expedite their time to graduation.
Math Degree Specializations
Many students may find that by selecting a specialization within their math major, they can hone in on specific jobs after graduation. Specializations provide unique learning opportunities for students that hold an interest in a particular aspect of the field. Some specializations for math majors include but are not limited to:
- Linear Algebra and Number Theory
- Differential Equations
- Geometrical Analysis
What Can I Do As a Math Major?
Math majors have a diverse range of job opportunities to explore depending on their interests, which can be daunting for some and exciting for others. Some positions that graduates with a math degree qualify for include statistician, actuary, math teacher, and accountant, just to name a few.
Math Salary and Career Information
Math remains an essential skill that is relevant in all aspects of business, government, and entertainment. According to the BLS, each of the roles mentioned above is trending in a positive direction in terms of job opportunity and demand, which bodes well for recent graduates.
Jobs like these offer security, and room for professional growth, making them highly coveted by professionals in the industry.
Here are some additional career paths a math major may take after graduation.
- Median Salary: $105,000
- Career Outlook: +21% (2020-2030)
- Required Education: Bachelor's Degree
Actuaries use math and statistics to assess the potential economic price of risk.
- Median Salary: $96,280
- Career Outlook: +31% (2020-2030)
- Required Education: Bachelor's Degree
Statisticians write surveys and develop experiments to create mathematical models and dissect data for further analysis.
- Median Salary: $79,640
- Career Outlook: +12% (2020-2030)
- Required Education: Bachelor's Degree
Math Professors teach college-level classes and develop lesson plans, write tests, and oversee the academic development of their students.
3 Best Colleges for Math Majors in the U.S.
The following top colleges for math majors is our Universities.com ranking that showcases the 10 best schools with math programs. These schools offer high-quality mathematics degrees and produce competitive graduates on an annual basis. Though these are outstanding programs within the math field, it is important to note that the best fit for any student is based on their personal needs.
UCLA is a large, public school and is the flagship of the UC System. This school has a highly competitive math program that produces top-performing graduates annually.
Indiana University of IU is a large, public school located in rural Indiana, and is home to a nationally-ranked mathematics department. Graduates leave IU with the skills they need to accelerate their careers in math.
The University of Wisconsin - Madison is another prestigious public institution that offers several math degrees to qualifying applicants. Their mathematics department is devoted to research and development and offers both graduate and undergraduate coursework in the field.
Online Degree in Math Programs
Earning an online degree gives students of all backgrounds the opportunity to take classes on their computers, watch lectures when their schedules are free, and take tests with the click of a button. While programs may vary, earning your degree online has never been easier.
Best Online Programs for Math Majors
The University of Illinois Springfield gives students the opportunity to major in math and complete credits in a flexible, online format that’s conducive for both part-time and full-time students, as well as professionals looking to finish their degree on their own schedules.
SNHU provides online students with countless resources to help them complete their mathematics degree from the comfort of their homes. Students are given digital resources developed to help further their technical and theoretical understanding of mathematics and specialize in subjects like statistics, calculus, and geometry.
How Long do Online Courses Take to Complete?
There are quite a few factors to consider before applying to an online degree program. Students who plan to enroll should do some research to determine whether their classes are live, or whether they are recorded and can be viewed asynchronously.
Furthermore, it’s important to know whether the program you are applying for is solely online or offers some hybrid learning opportunities in the classroom. For those interested in speeding up the process and graduating early, accelerated online courses condense the study materials and fastrack graduates who want to enter the workforce quickly. While some courses do offer students the flexibility to take care of their study materials on their own schedule, some do require students to complete the requirements in a prescribed timeline.
Next Steps to Get Started to Becoming a Math Major
- Research programs and identify your options
- Determine financial/time commitments for each degree and apply for financial aid via scholarships and completing the FAFSA
- Speak to an admissions officer about the benefits of each program
- Apply to the degree program of your choice
- Enroll in classes and get started!
Admissions Requirements for Math Degree Programs
Most colleges accepting math majors are requiring applicants to submit the following:
- High school degree (GPA) or GED
- SAT/ACT scores
- Complete the application prompt (as applicable)
- Complete prerequisite placement testing
Scholarships for Math Majors
Going to college is one of the largest financial commitments that anyone will make in their lifetime, and it’s important to understand the costs associated with completing a degree. There are a range of scholarships and grants available for students who qualify according to a need-based or merit-based application process, so it’s critical to explore these before applying to a particular school.
Deadline: March 1, 2023
Sponsor: Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion
Description: For graduating seniors of South Albany High School. FAFSA: Required - based on financial need. Preference for career fields in math, science or engineering. February 15 is the Early Bird Deadline. Error-free applications will be entered into a drawing for one of several $1,000 Early Bird scholarships. If a deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, that deadline will automatically be extended to 5:00 p.m. (PST) on the following business day.
Application Requirements: Application Form, Transcript, Financial need analysis, Essay, Must currently be in high school
Sponsor Details: The Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) is an office of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) committed to assisting Oregonians in their pursuit of higher education and a brighter future. Each year, OSAC awards grants and scholarships of more than $118 million to thousands of Oregon students.
Deadline: March 1, 2023
Sponsor: American Welding Society
Description: The recipient must be pursuing a bachelor's degree in engineering, or science related to math, physics, or chemistry. Preference will be given to students attending Lafayette College. Preference will be given to women.
Application Requirements: Application Form, Transcript, Recommendations or references
Sponsor Details: The American Welding Society (AWS) was founded in 1919, as a nonprofit organization with a global mission: Advancing the science, technology, and application of welding and allied joining and cutting processes, including brazing, soldering and thermal spraying.
Deadline: February 1, 2023
Sponsor: Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation
Description: The Leanna Dorworth Memorial Scholarship is for students pursuing an Associate’s or Bachelor's degree in STEM, Manufacturing, or Industrial Engineering. Applicants must be a child or grandchild of an SME member or be a student member of SME. Applicants must be graduating High School seniors or undergraduate students with no more than 30 credit hours. Preference will be given to legal citizens of North American countries but there are no geographic restrictions on the scholarship (i.e., no specific state, province, county, or attend a particular institution).
Application Requirements: Application FormSponsor Details: As the philanthropic arm of SME, an internationally recognized nonprofit organization serving the manufacturing industry, the SME Education Foundation inspires, prepares and supports the next generation of manufacturing and engineering talent. The Foundation also awards millions of dollars in scholarships every year to graduating high school seniors and both undergraduate and graduate students.
Math Major FAQ
What sorts of jobs do math majors get?
- Math majors can apply for a range of jobs in a variety of sectors including insurance, accounting, sales, and technology to name a few. Math majors can go on to become research statisticians, investment bankers, and even teachers.
Do math majors get paid well?
- According to the BLS, math majors earn median salaries of over $90,000 annually, which is great news for current and future students.
Should math majors go to graduate school?
- For students who are interested in increasing their earnings potential in leadership and research roles, attending graduate school can open many doors in sectors such as IT, finance, and corporate accounting.