A mathematics undergraduate degree can be great for many reasons, but you want to know what you’ll be in for and what it will lead to before determining if that’s what you want to major in. Math degrees can lead to some very successful careers, but it will be a lot of work and might require you to get a graduate or other advanced degree. For example, majoring in math can be a great start if you want to go to get a master’s or doctorate in engineering. Here are some things to keep in mind.
According to the Department of Education, math and science majors tend to make significantly more money and get better jobs than most other degrees. Math by itself doesn’t tend to do this for students, however, and those majoring in math should take their electives that provide more job-oriented skills that can be applied to graduate school or a specific career.
1. What classes you will take as a math major
If you are good at math and already taking advanced math courses (AP) in high school, you’ll know a little bit of what you will have to take. The specific classes will vary from college to college, but expect to be required to take courses like:
- Advanced Calculus
- Abstract Algebra
- Linear Equations
- Differential Equations
- Mathematical Theories
Since you will likely have to choose a minor, it is a good idea to minor in a subject that will fit well with your math degree. These include, but are not limited to, engineering, education, business, finance, accounting, or computer science. Each of these degrees will use a great deal of different mathematical skills and allow you to apply your math knowledge and skills to a career.
2. What will class be like?
A lot of mathematics classes are lecture based, meaning that the majority of your time will be spent listening to lecture and practicing problems outside of class. Lectures aren’t all bad, though, just make sure you know how to take good notes and show up to class every day. There will be lots and lots of homework assignments that you will have to complete on your own. This isn’t because math teachers like to grade homework, but because in order to understand math, you need to be able to perform the steps in multiple ways without having to think through each problem, and this requires practicing it over and over again until it becomes second nature.
3. Careers with a math degree
Many careers can come out of being a math major, but again, plan on having to go to graduate school or be able to learn on the job. You won’t be hired as a financial consultant or engineer just because you are good at math. You also will need to learn how to apply your mathematical skills towards a specific career path. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be a math major because it might require more work, but it is good to keep in mind.
Jobs that you can get after graduating with a degree in mathematics include:
- Systems Analyst
- Software Engineer
- Data Analyst
- Market Research Analyst
- Risk Management
- Math Teacher
4. Graduate school and furthering your education
Again, don’t be surprised if you have to earn other certifications or degrees in order to get these kind of jobs. This isn’t a bad thing, though, and can be a great opportunity to really find a successful and needed career for the rest of your life. STEM majors in general, math and science in particular, are some of the most highly recommended majors for new college students as these career fields are expanding every day.
No matter what you decide to major in, make sure it is a degree that you enjoy. The knowledge will come through hard work and dedication (and lots of homework!), as long as you enjoy what you do and are motivated to succeed.