Students who excel in math in high school might choose to become mathematics majors in college and go on to unlock a wide scope of possible careers. Some are fascinated by pure mathematical concepts and theories, while others aim to use their math skills in science-based careers. Math majors excel at taking concepts they learn in school and applying them to situations in the real world. There are dozens of options for students with a knack for numbers who want to become math majors.
What Can Math Majors Do After College?
The professional field of mathematics can include such careers from computer science to engineering to teaching math to middle school students. Not to mention, the ability to master mathematical concepts and apply them to a broad spectrum of industries can be used in just about any field—from music to architecture to pharmaceuticals.
Math majors’ knowledge will benefit any career requiring analytical and critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, and problem-solving. Mathematicians are exceptional at dissecting logical (and illogical) paths, arguments, and ideas, making them adept at concrete thought processes.
After college, these skills also make them the perfect professionals to teach others about mathematical concepts, from kindergarteners to college students and beyond. The specific career paths a math major will take largely depend on the type of math specialty or focus.
Should You Pursue One of the Math Majors in College?
If you enjoyed math in high school and earned respectable grades, you might be a good candidate to major in math. This is especially true if you took honors math courses (or IB and AP courses) and successfully rose to the challenge.
Students who do well as math majors in college are motivated — not frustrated — when answers don’t immediately or easily appear. They enjoy complex thought patternss and have an affinity for solving complicated problems. If you’re considering a career in math, you must be determined to engage with in-depth issues and challenging questions.
Do you love a complex challenge, with many steps between you and the answer? In college, you’ll study a wide array of mathematical concepts—and, just as they do in high school, the math classes you’ll take in college will build on previous ones.
Finally, it’s vital that you remember that math is not a solitary field of study. Successful math majors in college are patient, think outside the box, are good communicators, and are exceptional team players.
So how do you go about choosing what kind of math you’ll want to major in? What kind of math majors are there in college to consider? If you’re interested in making math part of your future career, keep your goals and interests in mind as you learn about some available college mathematics majors.
Different Types of Math Majors in College
The most obvious type of math degree is a traditional one, such as a bachelor of science (B.S.) or bachelor of arts (B.A.) in math. Often, degrees like these are ideal for preparing students to continue their studies to earn graduate or professional degrees in more specific fields.
Nonetheless, a math BS/BA isn’t your only option. You’ll gain a bit of a head start in your college and career planning with an introduction to some of the other common specialties offered to math majors in college.
Students who earn degrees in computer science are adept at using computers to solve exceptionally difficult and complex problems, including artificial intelligence. These students must use a broad range of math skills to create statistical models and probabilities.
Many students are attracted to computer science because of the combination of math, AI technology, and computer tech involved. Some are passionate about challenges like developing autonomous cars, and others are hooked on working on new algorithms.
Still, others want to work in teams on various projects that have the potential to change the healthcare industry. The possibilities are endless for lucrative math careers; it’s an exciting time to be a computer science major!
If you choose this path for your college studies, you’ll be able to fill any number of paid positions across many fields in the workforce. Some of these positions include:
- Software engineer
- Web developer
- Systems architect
- Information technical specialist
- Computer engineer
- IT project manager
- Computer scientist
- Mobile app developer
- Human-computer interaction professional
- Artificial intelligence engineer
While you are a college student in computer science, you’ll take classes ranging from operating systems and algorithms to calculus and data structures. If that sounds exciting, consider pursuing a computer science major.
Applied mathematics is an outstanding major for students who aspire to land careers in everything from engineering to teaching. This course of study gives students the knowledge to apply all kinds of mathematical ideals and concepts to everyday problems.
You can find applied mathematics majors in an expansive array of careers, some of which are:
- Financial analyst
Many students who major in applied mathematics plan on continuing to pursue graduate degrees, so they will take courses in college that include:
- Numerical analysis
- Optimization theory
- Computational mathematics
The main idea behind applied mathematics is that it’s a versatile and flexible major that leads to careers in many different industries. If you’re certain you want to major in math but aren’t sure of the specific path you will take, starting with a major in applied mathematics is a wise choice.
Collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data is at the heart of statistics, which in turn is at the center of quantitative reasoning. Statistics may be your college major if you are passionate about formulating, communicating, and presenting data-based thoughts and arguments.
As a stats major, you’ll possess a mathematical skill set that is in high demand these days. This is especially true with the progressive advancements in technologies, computer science, and artificial intelligence, to name a few.
From research labs to the government and everything in between, many sectors need statistics majors to fill positions like the following:
- Business analyst
- Market researcher
- Database administrator
- Financial analyst
- Cost estimator
- Statistics teacher
You might like to pursue a career in healthcare, insurance, research, risk analysis, or any other number of statistics-related fields. In that case, consider a master’s degree or even a doctorate in statistics to boost your skill set.
Some of the courses you can expect to take during your college career include linear algebra, calculus, theoretical statistics, and probability.
Pure mathematics majors are students who enjoy the underlying basic concepts of all types of mathematics. They work on everything from theoretical analysis and geometrics to algebraic equations. These students also develop and hone their modeling, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills.
These skills can qualify students for positions in a wide variety of industries that require analytical and calculative skills, including:
- Medical research
- Scientific research
Students who are passionate about pure mathematics and choose this path for their college major can expect to take classes such as:
- Multivariable calculus
- Real analysis
- Complex analysis
- Discrete mathematics
- Differential equations
- Linear algebra
If these types of math speak to you, a major in pure mathematics may be exactly what you’re destined for. Pure mathematics majors study the broad concepts, techniques, and principles of all kinds of math.
This contrasts with the realm of other math majors, such as applied math majors. Students majoring in applied math learn how to use algorithms and equations in ways related to specific tasks, goals, and jobs.
The main motivation for pure mathematics professionals is the process that leads to discovering truths instead of immediate or specific applications. If this sounds like you, consider a major in pure mathematics.
College Math Majors and Minors
No matter what kind of math you’re most interested in, it’s important to note that all students, regardless of their major, will still need to take college courses outside the realm of mathematics. This is true even for those who major in pure mathematics.
Many colleges also require math majors to pursue a minor in a relevant discipline, whether that minor falls within the scope of math or not. Some areas of study that math students commonly minor in while in college include:
- Computer science
- Environmental studies
Students are also expected to take courses in subjects ranging from the arts to foreign languages, communication, and more.
Find Your Mathematical Path in College
The possibilities math majors have at their fingertips are substantial. Almost every industry and every field hinges on mathematics to some level, and this is one of the main reasons there are so many career options for professionals who hold a degree in math.
Your success as a math professional after college can depend on finding the best type of math for you to major in at the right college for your goals and needs. Choose a college with a flexible curriculum that is thorough, diverse, and customizable. This will give you access to the resources you need to make the best decisions for your future as a math major. For more guidance on your college path and beyond, consider working with a college counselor like Empowerly.