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EARNING AN ONLINE MATHEMATICS DEGREE: ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO GET STARTED
Earning an online mathematics degree could help you achieve the quantitative skills and knowledge you need to pursue diverse career paths – like actuary, statistician, operations research analyst i, or educator.ii
Considered the underlying language of science, mathematics can help us understand the world more clearly and find solutions for seemingly-impossible problems. In an online math degree program, you could even explore the relationship between math and human life, tracing this ancient subject from early times through modern technology.
EARNING AN ONLINE MATH DEGREE: AN OVERVIEW
Do you love numbers and want to dedicate your education to quantitative problem-solving? If so, you might be wondering what it’s really like to study math at the postsecondary level. Is it intimidating or exciting? Will you enter the abstract territory of pure mathematics? Or learn how to solve problems in practical settings, such as business or the social sciences?
Since math degree programs are so diverse, the only way to find out exactly what you could study is to research programs in your interest area. For instance, you could pursue online mathematics degree programs at the undergraduate or graduate level. You could even choose an area of focus like statistics or financial mathematics.
That said, a general undergraduate mathematics program may cover topics like:
- How to solve quantitative problems, as well as think logically and analytically.
- The procedures of scientific research, including how to recognize, analyze, and interpret data.
- How to use numerical and data analysis to solve problems and make decisions.
- The history and applications of mathematics through the ages.
- Various areas of the mathematics field, such as algebra, statistics, and calculus
Some programs may also be aimed at students with specific career goals – for example, financial mathematics or teaching math at the secondary level. If you are able to choose a concentration within your online math degree program, you can expect to take coursework pertaining to this area of interest, as well.
While math as we know it dates back to the earliest human records, it hasn’t always looked the way it does today! For example, the Ancient Greeks only used positive numbers. It wasn’t until much later that negative numbers were introduced in India by Brahmagupta.
MATHEMATICS DEGREE COURSES YOU COULD TAKE
Depending on the focus of your program, your study of math could wander the map, from geometry and topology to abstract algebra and advanced calculus. Sound like your cup of tea? Let’s learn more about typical courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Undergraduate mathematics degree courses may include:
- Applied Statistics
- Discrete Mathematics
- Linear Algebra
- Differential Equations
- Abstract Algebra
- Real Analysis
- Number Theory
- History of Math
- Complex Variables
- Mathematical Modeling
In addition, bachelor’s degree programs usually require general education courses, designed to help students round out their knowledge in areas like writing, science, philosophy, civics, and so on. So, you’ll likely take around 30 to 36 credits (more or less) in gen ed courses, in addition to core courses in your major and electives.
Graduate mathematics degree courses may include:
- Commutative Algebra
- Applied Linear Algebra
- Graph Theory
- Linear Programming & Optimization
- Mathematical Modeling and Applications
- Advanced Calculus
- Scientific Computing
- Vector Calculus and Complex Variables
- Dynamical Systems
- Computational Methods for Data Analysis
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TYPES OF MATHEMATICS DEGREE PROGRAM ONLINE
Depending on your passions and professional goals, you may want to study a particular area of math, like statistics or applied mathematics. Or perhaps, pursuing a more general route is your style! Here’s a glimpse of some of the online math degree programs you could find, and what you may learn in each.
- Online Math Bachelor’s Degree Program – In a general math program, you could take courses in areas like calculus, algebra, and mathematical modeling. Or even focus on a particular area of the field, like financial mathematics. Such a program may be aimed at students with diverse career goals. Or those who aren’t yet exactly sure what they hope to do with their math studies.
- Online Applied Mathematics Degree Program – Applied mathematics involves using math concepts to solve problems in various areas of life. Such as in the natural and social sciences. In an applied mathematics program, you could explore topics like quantitative reasoning and analysis. Or how to construct and defend mathematical proofs. Perhaps most importantly, you could study how areas of math like calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra can be used in research, industry, the sciences, and beyond.
- Online Statistics Bachelor Degree Program – The study of statistics typically focuses on probability. That can be used to analyze data in order to predict a particular outcome or suggest a solution to a problem. In a bachelor’s degree program in statistics, you could study how to work with data. This could include analyzing, managing, and reporting your findings. In addition to studying statistical theory and practice, you may take courses in calculus, computing, and more. And, you could explore how statistics is applied to industry, business, research, and other areas.
GRADUATE MATH DEGREE PROGRAMS
- Online Math Masters Degree Program – A general master’s program in math may be aimed at professionals in a variety of fields. These fields include high school teachers pursuing subject-area knowledge. So, some programs may allow flexibility in tailoring your studies to your professional interests. You could study real and complex variables. Or applied linear algebra, graph theory, topology, advanced calculus, and beyond.
- Online Financial Mathematics Degree Program – Financial mathematics programs online are typically offered at the graduate level. For instance, you may find Master of Science (M.S.) programs and graduate certificate programs touching on this subject. In a program that focuses on financial mathematics, you could work on your quantitative knowledge and skills as they apply to the global economy. For instance, you could study investment science, financial derivatives, and how to calculate and predict the level of financial risk for a particular decision. Graduate certificate programs may drill down into specific areas of the field, like securitization, quantitative portfolio management, and more.
- Master of Arts in Mathematics Education – Do you need to take online graduate level math courses for teaching? Pursuing a master’s program in mathematics education may be one way to build knowledge for your math classroom. This kind of program focuses not just on math concepts, but on strategies and tools for conveying those concepts to students. You may be able to pursue your M.A. in Mathematics Education for Secondary, Middle Grades, or Elementary students. Be sure to check with your program of interest to learn more about its objectives and prospective learning outcomes. For instance, a program may be intended for current teachers who already hold licensure, not those seeking licensure.
- Online Graduate Math Certificate Program – Pursuing a math certificate program could help you drill down on a particular area of your field. It could also bridge gaps in your knowledge prior to pursuing a math PhD program. Programs like this are shorter-term than earning a master’s degree. They may be ideal for those who plan to change fields and need to brush up key mathematical concepts.
INDUSTRY FACT i
Employment of occupations related to math is projected to grow 28 percent from 2016 to 2026. That’s much faster than the average for all jobs! Some of this growth may be due to the rise in prevalence of big data (and the resulting need for analysts) in business and government.
APPLYING TO AN ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAM in MATHEMATICS
Are you a math enthusiast hoping to turn your love of numbers into an interesting career path? Or a current professional hoping to enhance your mathematics expertise? If so, pursuing an online math degree program might be the ideal next step. First, you’ll have to check out the admissions requirements for the programs you’re considering. Then learn more about how to apply.
At the undergraduate level, admissions requirements for an online math degree program usually involve submitting an application. You also submit your academic transcripts from high school or any previous institutions you attended.
In addition, applying to undergraduate mathematics programs may require:
- ACT or SAT scores, though many online programs don’t require standardized test results
- A minimum GPA
- The completion of prerequisite courses, such as calculus. (If you didn’t take these courses in high school, you may be able to take them as an admitted student, without credit.)
- A credential evaluation and other materials, if you are an international student
- A GED certificate if you do not have a high school diploma
Keep in mind that you may need to meet separate requirements to be admitted to the college or university itself. For instance, a mathematics degree program may require a different minimum GPA than the school’s general admissions policies dictate.
At the graduate level, you must have earned a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, generally from a regionally accredited school. Your program may specify that your bachelor’s degree must be in mathematics, applied mathematics, or a related field. In addition, you may need prerequisite courses in subjects like calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, etc. Other skills or knowledge, like programming, may also be required.
Other admissions requirements for graduate programs in mathematics may include:
- Transcripts from every college you have attended
- A minimum undergraduate GPA
- GRE scores (may be optional or nonrequired)
- Letters of recommendation
- Statement of purpose, describing your academic and professional background, interests, and goals (and how graduate school could help you pursue your objectives!)
- Resume or curriculum vitae
Of course, always verify admissions requirements with your school and program of interest, and make sure you carefully adhere to all instructions and deadlines provided.
GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS FOR ONLINE MATH DEGREE PROGRAMS
So what does it take to earn your math degree online? While graduation requirements may vary, at the undergraduate level for example you will typically need to earn around 120 credits, give or take a few.
These are typically grouped into core courses within the math major, math electives, general education courses, and general electives.
POTENTIAL BACHELOR OF MATHEMATICS ONLINE DEGREE REQUIREMENTS
Keep in mind that every program is structured differently, and the following breakdown is only approximate.
- General education courses: 30 to 42 credit hours
- Mathematics core courses: 20 to 30 credit hours
- Mathematics elective courses or concentration area: 9 to 18 credit hours
- General elective courses: 18 to 45 credit hours
At the graduate level, curricular focus may shift to more in-depth exploration of your field. Notably this means general education courses are a thing of the past. Additionally you may need to earn roughly 33 to 54 credits (more or less) to earn a master’s degree in mathematics. In summary, these credits may be comprised of core courses and electives, and/or programs in a concentration area.
POTENTIAL ONLINE MATH MASTER’S DEGREE REQUIREMENTS
Master’s degree programs in mathematics may be highly variable – and even customizable! – when it comes to structure and course requirements. Therefore, the following is just an approximation:
- Core mathematics courses: 12 to 36 credits
- Elective courses: 9 to 18 credits
- Concentration courses: 0 to 24 credits
In addition, your master’s program may require you to complete a capstone, portfolio, or other final project. For example, students in an M.A. in Mathematics Education program may put together a research-based teaching work sample. This could include a lesson plan, learning goals, assessment, and other components.
FINDING YOUR IDEAL MATHEMATICS DEGREE PROGRAM ONLINE
Do your goals include exploring how math can inform fields like science and business? Or couple with helping the next generation learn to love math as much as you do? Or is your dream taking your studies to the graduate level? Above all it’s important to find an online math degree program that feels like your ideal fit. We can help you find programs that may be perfect for you. Simply fill out the form on this page.We’ll help you get matched with online math degree programs designed to fit your busy life.
POSSIBLE SALARIES FOR A CAREER IN MATHEMATICS & STATISTICS
Your salary as a mathematics & statistics professional is largely decided by your specific job title, your level of education, and after that your experience in the industry and your skill. Consider the following careers, with statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016.
MATHEMATICIANS AND STATISTICIANS
Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply mathematical and statistical techniques and as a result help solve real-world problems in business, engineering, healthcare, or other fields.
Median Salary: $84,760 per year iii
Job growth through 2026: 33% (Much faster than average)
Typical Entry-level education: Master’s Degree
Survey researchers design and conduct surveys and analyze data. Moreover, surveys are used to collect factual data, such as employment and salary information, for instance to ask questions in order to understand people’s opinions, preferences, beliefs, or desires.
Median Salary: $54,270 per year iv
Job growth through 2026: 2% (Slower than average)
Typical Entry-level education: Master’s Degree
Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. After that they use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk of potential events. Finally, they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk.
Median Salary: $101,560 per year v
Job growth through 2026: 22% (Much faster than average)
Typical Entry-level education: Bachelor’s Degree