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The Breakdown

It might not seem like it when you’re trying to figure out the slope of a line, but there’s truly poetry in mathematics. Indeed, when viewed through a philosophical lens, math purports to answer fundamental questions about the universe. It also touches upon, enhances and explains many facets of our lives. If you have a head for numbers and abstract ideas, math could be the academic path you seek.

As a math major, you’ll likely have a combination of theoretical and applied classes. More specifically, you will be required to take a series of Calculus courses along with a handful of algebra classes, a course in analysis and most likely some type of seminar as well. Some schools also recommend you pair the major with coursework in computer science, risk management, physics, information technology, secondary education or statistics. Finally, while you won’t necessarily be bogged down with research papers, you can expect to be deluged with problem sets.

It goes without saying (though we’ll write it anyway) that to excel in math, you need outstanding quantitative skills. Moreover, you should be a creative and abstract thinker and a talented problem solver. And, of course, you should be prepared to have an intimate relationship with your calculator.

Nuts and Bolts

This isn’t your high school math program! As a math major, you’ll sink your teeth into classes such as: One Variable Calculus, Mathematical Investigations in Genetics and Genomics, Algebraic Methods in Knot Theory, Introduction to Probability, Computational Linear Algebra, Discrete Mathematics I, Number Theory, Advanced Calculus, Ordinary Differential Equations, Game Theory, Statistics of Law, Abstract Algebra and Complex Analysis.

Decisions, Decisions…

Clearly, math majors are drawn to subjects with a quantitative bent. Therefore, they are also likely to enjoy statistics, accounting, computer science, physics, economics, civil engineering, actuarial science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, finance, applied math and information technology.

What’s Next?

Math majors are sure to delight in the fact that their skill-sets are desired and in demand among numerous industries. Additionally, their job satisfaction and earning potential have, historically, been very high. Taking their talent for data analysis, logic and problem-solving, graduates can find employment as modelers. Mathematical modelers create equations to predict behavior for everything from the stock market to blood pressure. Finance is a big draw and many math majors land jobs with hedge funds and investment firms. Many graduates also use their degree to segue into computer programming/science or actuarial science. Cryptography is another intriguing field that heavily recruits math majors. Indeed, everything from banks and cable companies to government agencies hire mathematicians to make and break codes. The biotech industry is also booming with math majors and, of course, teaching is always a popular option.


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Don Munce