What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Mathematics?
A master’s degree in mathematics is a great way to improve your career prospects and heighten your earning potential in an extremely robust job market. An advanced degree in mathematics can qualify you for a wide range of leadership roles and specializations in countless job sectors from major corporations and top-rated accounting firms to healthcare organizations and construction developers. And if you plan to become a math teacher, some states and districts may require you to hold a master’s degree in mathematics, or to earn one in order to gain tenure.
Your technical, analytical, and problem solving skills will make you a valuable commodity in countless professional settings, including finance, technology, education, and much more. And depending on the specialization you choose, your master’s degree in mathematics could earn you a coveted and well-paying role consulting for a government agency, overseeing the administration of an important public health program, or providing economic policy analysis on important legislative actions.
Just getting started in the field? Check out our look at the mathematics major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in mathematics.
If you’re ready to earn your graduate degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Mathematics.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as a mathematics master.
Why get a master’s degree in mathematics?
Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick, England, and one of our top influencers in the field of mathematics, highlights the value of working with the very best minds in the math discipline.
He explains that “if I’m working with a maths graduate student or postdoc, they will have the background, but they might need some ideas about how to apply it, which bits to focus on, how to tackle the problem. If you’re an experienced researcher in the subject, you have some tricks you can use. You’ve got some sort of feeling for the area which, early on, the graduate students may not have.”
One of the strongest arguments in favor of earning an advanced degree in mathematics is the opportunity it provides to work closely with influential professors and great thinkers in your field. Gaining access to though leaders in mathematics can help deepen your problem-solving and research capabilities.
How can I qualify to get a master’s degree in mathematics?
Some programs may require you to complete a Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Your school may require you to meet a certain scoring threshold or it may merely require that you complete the exam. These requirements will vary from one mathematics master’s program to the next.
For testing tips, check out our Guide to the GRE.
If no GRE is required, the primary requirement for gaining eligibility into a mathematics master’s program is completion of a bachelor’s degree in math, engineering, or another closely-related subject area from a properly accredited undergraduate school. While programmatic accreditation is not specifically required in this field, most regionally-accredited graduate schools will require that your bachelor’s degree be granted by a regionally-accredited college or university.
Some colleges may offer bundled bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, where you could earn your advanced degree in one continuous five-year program. This option could save you time and money if you already know that you’ll be pursuing your advanced degree. However, the accelerated pace of such a program may make this a challenging way to earn both degrees. Find out if your school offers this bundling option and ask about eligibility requirements. But be sure you’re up to the added challenge!
For any additional questions about eligibility, refer to your intended program and learn more about application requirements and any additional requirements such as work experience, academic performance thresholds, and referrals.
If you’re still working on building your qualifications, check out our look at the mathematics major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in mathematics.
What kinds of advanced mathematics degrees are there?
Mathematics degrees are available at every academic level, but a great many leadership roles and specializations are reserved for those with an advanced degree. As with other fields, your studies in mathematics will grow increasingly specialized as you climb higher, with master’s and doctoral students focusing in niche areas of mathematics.
- Master of Mathematics (MA or MS): A master’s degree in mathematics typically takes four years to complete and requires 30-45 credits. Master’s students develop advanced and specialized knowledge in the field, with concentration options in subjects such as algebra and number theory, functional analysis, and computational mathematics. Courses at this level cover topics such as numerical analysis, modern algebra, functions, and real variables. You may also study the history of mathematics with a focus on important historical literature, figures, and findings. Math masters programs typically require a research project or thesis for completion. Students emerge ready for advanced roles as actuaries, mathematicians, data scientists, and operations research analysts. Additionally, masters students may qualify to teach high school math, though you would likely need to take a requisite number of teaching courses and earn a teaching certificate for your state of residence.
- PhD in Mathematics: A PhD degree in mathematics is the highest level degree you can earn in the field. It typically takes three to five years to complete and requires a combination of advanced coursework, dissertation research and writing, lab work, instruction, and comprehensive exams. Students at this level prepare for advanced roles in the field, such as tenured mathematics professor, information science researcher, or data scientist for a high-profile project. At this level, you will already be well into your specialization area. Therefore, you may need to determine where to earn your doctoral degree based on how each school ranks for your specialization.
What are some popular mathematics specializations?
Your mathematics specialization will depend largely on your career aspirations. For instance, if you have an interest in supporting the distribution of resources to the public, you may consider a specialization in statistics, whereas, if you plan to contribute your mathematics skills to an engineering firm, you may consider specializing in computational mathematics. Most programs also offer a general option if your top priority is to build a well-rounded base of knowledge. The following are among the most popular math master’s specializations:
- Applied Mathematics
- Computational Mathematics
- Algebra and Number Theory
- Functional Analysis
What courses will I take as a mathematics master?
Your specialization will determine many of the courses you’ll take as a mathematics major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as Differential Equations and Discrete Mathematics. As a mathematics master, you’ll also have the chance to choose courses according to your personal and professional interests.
Common mathematics masters courses include:
- Number Theory
- Applied Partial Differential Equations
- Vector Calculus
- Numerical Analysis
- Topology and Geometry
- Probability, Stochastic Processes and Combinatorics
- Statistics and Game Theory
- Machine Learning
- Data Mining and Management
- Quantitative Finance
Is a master’s degree in mathematics worth it?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the wage premium for those with an advanced degree in mathematics is considerable. Mathematicians, statisticians and others in math-related fields with a master’s degree in mathematics earned roughly 30% more than their counterparts with a bachelor’s degree. The BLS reports that mathematicians with a bachelor’s degree earn a median income of $60,000 per year, whereas master’s in math earn $80,000 per year.
What are the top jobs with a master’s in mathematics degree?
While many jobs require only a bachelor’s degree as a point of entry, a master’s degree in mathematics is held in high regard. Your opportunities for employment, advancement, and salary growth are far greater with an advanced degree in math. Your master’s degree can lead to a wide range of leadership opportunities, including these top jobs:
- Financial Analysts
- Mathematicians and Statisticians
- Operations Research Analysts
- High School Teachers
- Computer and Information Research Scientists
- Data Scientists
- Postsecondary Teachers
Curious how far you could go with a master’s degree in mathematics? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!***
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