Considering a major or minor in mathematics? Wise choice. Few majors are as versatile or sought after in the marketplace. Mathematics provides an excellent background for business or law school, and as the language of science it is highly regarded in any graduate program in the sciences, including medical school. It complements the Computer Science, Physics, and Chemistry major. Indeed many majors in these fields find it beneficial to complete a minor (or double major) in mathematics. Moreover, a student may major in mathematics and minor in education to qualify as a high school or secondary school teacher. Such a background is highly desirable to most school systems. Other professions that are often eager to find graduates with a strong math background include the insurance industry, software development firms, market research firms, the financial industry (accounting firms, banks, mutual fund companies, etc.), encryption agencies (such as the National Security Agency), and industrial engineering departments of manufacturing companies. A list of career profiles of many active mathematicians is available at the AMS Career Profile Pages.
The versatility of the mathematics degree is a testament to the value of a liberal arts education. The mathematics graduate has demonstrated an ability to think, to learn, to solve problems. He or she is able to fit into a wide variety of career settings precisely because of the abstract nature of the discipline. But what exactly are the goals for the major or minor in mathematics?
The mathematics department's primary aim is to develop students' capacity for and appreciation of intellectually demanding mathematical thinking. Mathematics courses expose students to a diverse yet tightly woven and highly refined body of knowledge resting upon axiomatic foundations, and to a multitude of applications of this knowledge to the real world. Students pursuing the mathematics major are expected to gain an appreciation of mathematical rigor, the process whereby propositions are logically deduced from general premises. Such study should enable students to apply greater clarity and precision of thought to their future endeavors, and promote higher order thinking and habits of mind suitable for effective problem solving. The curriculum includes courses in both theoretical and applied mathematics. Each student should be able to develop a course of study which will serve as the foundation for graduate work or for a career that requires well-developed analytical skills.
If you are considering a mathematics major or minor, stop by the department and talk with a faculty member as soon as possible. A few minutes spent early on will help facilitate the planning necessary to complete the program, and ensure that you understand the requirements.
Students expecting to major or minor in mathematics need to complete the calculus sequence as soon as possible. You can take either the "traditional" sequence Mathematics 131-132, or the computer intensive sequence Mathematics 141-142, which incorporates Mathematica into the curriculum. You should complete one of these sequences no later than the end of your sophomore year.
A major in mathematics consists of at least 36 semester hours approved by the department. The major program must include MATH 132/142, 203, 213, 220, 321, 415, and 421, plus additional mathematics courses numbered above 200. In addition, one of either CSCI 310 or PHYS 250 may be used. A minor in mathematics consists of MATH 132/142, 203 and 213, and at least nine semester hours in mathematics above MATH 213. In addition, one of either CSCI 310 or PHYS 250 may be used, while MATH 450 may not be used to satisfy the requirement for a minor in mathematics. Students planning to minor in mathematics should consult a member of the department for help choosing courses best suited to their major and their interests. No student who has successfully completed a mathematics course numbered above Mathematics 200 may subsequently enroll in and receive credit for a 100-level course in mathematics unless he or she has written permission to do so from the chair of the Department of Mathematics.
Students in the teacher preparation program must meet specific general and professional education requirements for either an elementary or secondary education minor. In addition, elementary certification requires the completion of a major program in an appropriate department. In order to receive secondary school certification in mathematics, students must complete the following requirements by the end of the fall term of their senior year.
In addition to the above courses, two (2) additional courses in mathematics above Math. 213 or two (2) computer science courses at the 200 level or higher must be included.