An education in numeric sciences, or a mathematics degree, can be applied to any number of fields, from biology to economics to computer programming. Mathematics, or Maths or Math, degrees are offered at all levels, including associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate.
While deciding on a mathematics degree or understanding career paths, there are fields sometimes referred to as “pure” maths or “applied” maths. Applied maths is when this numeric science is put into action, when it models, predicts, or explains something, such as a Statistician or Investment Analyst. Pure maths refers to mathematical practices or professions that study math itself, such as a researcher. The line can be blurry, but it may come up when deciding upon an educational program or career path.
Earning an associate degree in mathematics typically takes 2 years and provides a basic introduction to the “M” from “STEM.” Curriculum will most likely include calculus, algebra, differential equations, geometry, and trigonometry. Completion won’t make graduates eligible for many careers within the mathematics field, but it can be a good way to save money towards earning a bachelor’s degree!
A bachelor’s degree in mathematics typically takes the standard 4 years to complete, but there are accelerated programs that can be completed in two years. On top of introductory courses, the curriculum will become more in-depth with room for concentrations, as well, such as computer science, probability and statistics, and economics.
Mathematics as a degree can be earned as a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics or a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. In this case, both are comparable. The BA in Mathematics will have added liberal arts requirements, whereas the BS will have science and lab requirements. If the end-goal is a scientific field, the BS may be beneficial, but is likely not required. Keep in mind that some institutions offer programs that combine a bachelor’s and master’s, making it possible to accomplish both in five years.
Career options for graduates with a baccalaureate in mathematics include: Mathematician (federal government jobs), Cryptographer, Economist (government agencies), Actuary, Financial Planner*, Investment Analyst*, Statistician (entry-level), Operations Research Analyst, System Engineer, Inventory Control Specialist, Budget Analyst, Accountant*, Insurance Underwriter, Programmer Analyst, Cost Estimator, Fraud Investigator, Energy Analyst, High School Math Teacher, Data Analyst, Software Tester. With professions varying so wildly, the entry-level salary is heavily dependent on industry, but the average salary for individuals with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics is $73,000.
*May require certifications or special clearance.
Depending on the area of study and type of program, master’s degrees can take anywhere from one to two years. Earning a master’s opens career options, primarily in the private sector, as well as higher payer positions. Also available in two different degree types, a Master’s of Arts in Mathematics or a Master of Science in Mathematics, the choice entirely depends on the career goal.
Career options for graduates with a Master’s in Mathematics include: Algorithms Engineer, Geodesist, Meteorologist, Data Scientist*, Mathematical Modeler, Quantitative Financial Analyst. The median salary for a Master’s in Applied Mathematics is $121,900.
*May require a PhD in some industries or to be competitive.
There are three primary reasons to earn a PhD in Mathematics: tenure, research, or crushing career competition. As usual, a PhD is indicative of wanting to remain in academia, as a professor, and typically with a research responsibility, as well. Programs typically take five years, two in coursework and three working on a dissertation. It also gives a significant leg up over other candidates applying in the same field who may only have a bachelor’s or master’s.