Mathematics Degree Guide: 2021 Costs, Requirements & Job Opportunities

Mathematics Degree Guide: 2021 Costs, Requirements & Job Opportunities
Imed Bouchrika by Imed Bouchrika
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

A full grasp of how numbers, equations, and methodologies work is imperative in fields spanning government to commerce to technology, and this is one of the many grounds that make a mathematics degree a sought-after credential (Kowarski, 2020). Other top skills needed for a math-related career are critical thinking, analytical, problem-solving, and quantitative reasoning. These skills enable math majors to create and utilize complex concepts and make logical discourse.

The most common career paths for a math degree are academic research, business, banking, and economics. Opportunities for math degree graduates will continue to grow as huge organizations are now becoming heavily dependent on mathematical reasoning and data analysis. In fact, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a 27% increase in mathematical roles from 2019 to 2029 (Wintermute, 2021). If you are an aspiring math professional, this article will be your guide in preparing requirements, expecting salary ranges, and targeting career prospects.

Mathematics Degree Table of Contents

  1. What is a Mathematics Degree?
  2. Cost of Mathematics Degree 
  3. Mathematics Degree Jobs
  4. Types of Degrees in Mathematics
  5. Mathematic Degree Requirements
  6. What to Look for in a Mathematics Program
  7. Majors Related to Mathematics

What is a Mathematics Degree?

The mathematics definition paints it as analyzing data, numbers, and structures to design models. These models help us understand everything around us.

A math degree develops skills in quantitative predictions, data analysis, and complex mathematical problem-solving. If you plan to take a math degree, you can start by differentiating pure math and applied math fields from each other. Pure math is fully academic, while applied math explores interdisciplinary strategies like applications in technology and business.

Usually, math is also designed as a joint-honors degree, being matched with business management, computer science, and economics subjects (Quacquarelli Symonds, n.d.).

What can you do with a mathematics degree?

Mathematics degree graduates have endless career possibilities, be it in engineering, technology, or finance. The sectors of government and health care, for instance, are suitable for mathematicians and statisticians.

The latest BLS employment data reports that 40% of mathematicians and 11% of statisticians are employed by the federal government. These experts are tasked with analyzing public data, identifying trends, and partnering with scientists and public health authorities. The latest BLS occupational data also reports that 18% of mathematicians and 7% of statisticians are employed in higher academic institutes. There, they carry out research and teach math to students (Wintermute, 2021).

On the other hand, math experts can work for corporations and financial agencies as operations research analysts, budget analysts, and actuaries. These professionals find out and solve problems through mathematical models, statistics, and data analysis.

Bachelor’s-level applied math degrees are mostly required for these positions, but pure math programs may also qualify. Some organizations demand a graduate-level degree or experience in a specialized math discipline as well.

world data volume by 2025

Cost of Mathematics Degree

Residency, type of school, room and board, books and supplies, and many other expenses make up the full mathematics degree tuition. Nevertheless, many colleges, universities, as well as private companies, organizations, and government institutions offer scholarships and financial help. Online degrees in math are also an affordable and equally remarkable option.

How much does it cost to get a mathematics degree?

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the 2019-2020 median mathematics degree tuition and fee costs are $9,349 at public in-state four-year universities and $3,377 for two-year colleges. For private four-year schools, tuition and fees averaged $35,807 and $16,898 at two-year colleges. Tuition and fees for graduate math degrees at in-state public schools cost $12,171 and $27,776 for private schools.

Top 5 Community Colleges in the U.S.

SchoolStudent BodyTuition and FeesFields with Most InfluenceInfluential Alumni
Anne Arundel Community College~8,000$8,000Law
Criminal Justice
Computer Science
Education Engineering
Edward Snowden, attended but did not graduate

Brian Crecente, editor of Kotaku

Ronald Malfi, horror novelist

Travis Pastrana, motocross racer
Roxbury Community College~1,000$6,000Mathematics
Criminal Justice
Computer Science
No information available
Eastern Maine Community College~2,000$4,000Medical
Criminal Justice
No information available
Springfield Technical Community College~4,000$5,000Business
Computer Science
Criminal Justice
Paul Mark, American politician
College of Marin~3,000$1,000Anthropology
Computer Science
Robin Williams, actor and comedian

Jim Saia, American basketball coach

Joel Blum, actor

Lisa Law, American photographer
Source: Academic Influence, 2021

Is a degree in mathematics worth it?

By all accounts, a mathematics degree will take much of your time, energy, and sometimes money. This degree may even oblige you to take advanced or graduate degrees. However, this trend happens only because math is used in many disciplines to make accurate measurements, recognize business gains, and think and act reasonably. Without question, a math degree can take you to limitless options (Carlton, 2021).

Mathematics Degree Jobs

Turn your love for numbers into a lucrative career. Today, nearly every job entails math to some extent. These jobs use different kinds of math, from basic addition or subtraction to algebra or statistics (Trade Schools, n.d.).

Alexandre Borovik’s 2021 arXiv article, “A Mathematician’s View of the Unreasonable Ineffectiveness of Mathematics in Biology,” discusses the effectiveness of mental arithmetic in physics. It highlights Enrico Fermi’s calculation on the first-ever nuclear explosion. “About 40 seconds after the explosion, the air blast reached me. I tried to estimate its strength by dropping from about six feet small pieces of paper before, during, and after the passage of the blast wave. Since, at the time, there was no wind I could observe very distinctly and actually measure the displacement of the pieces of paper that were in the process of falling while the blast was passing. The shift was about 2 1/2 meters, which, at the time, I estimated to correspond to the blast that would be produced by ten thousand tons of TNT.” This was an on-the-spot mental arithmetic account of the event, from observations of pieces of paper falling on the ground. It was then verified that Fermi’s estimation was correct.

number of Americans with math careers

Is mathematics in high demand?

The thriving importance laid out on big data, technology, and economic productivity across industries makes mathematics degree jobs always in demand. Besides making you a highly qualified professional, math also continues to hone your desirable skills, making this degree a marketable field (Palmer, 2020).

Math degree graduates achieve business goals in a multifaceted manner across industries, a manifestation of how flexible and more valuable they are to organizations.

What jobs can you get with a mathematics degree?

  1. Financial Analyst. Financial analysts make sound investment decisions by assessing stock performance, evaluating financial data, and studying trends in economic business. They help individuals or companies gain stable financial advantages.
  2. Economist. Economists study and analyze the economy. They may also research economic problems, analyze data, explain business trends, and perform surveys.
  3. Actuary. Actuaries assess risks and financial expenses to help organizations create policies and more. Their roles can involve gathering statistical data, estimating probability, and evaluating insurance regulations.
  4. Mathematician. Mathematicians develop rules on mathematics, determine what data can be used for certain questions, and apply math theories to various fields. They are in demand in the science, engineering, and business fields.
  5. Postsecondary Math Teacher. Postsecondary math teachers teach future financial analysts, economists, actuaries, and mathematicians. They develop lessons and courses, as well as work with other teachers to improve or develop teaching plans.

What kind of salary can I earn with a mathematics degree?

Exact salary rates for math degree graduates differ by occupation, location, and organization, but they can gain exceptionally high income.

As of 2020, computer and information research scientists have an average yearly salary of $126,830, physicists have $128,950, actuaries have $111,030, economists have $108,350, and mathematicians and statisticians have $93,290.

Source: BLS, 2021

Types of Degrees in Mathematics

Some mathematics degree types are focused on applied mathematics that covers statistics and engineering, while others center on philosophical discussions and usually leads to scholastic careers. Even so, math has diverse programs and degrees because of its relevance to many disciplines and fields.

What kinds of mathematics degrees are there?

  1. Associate Degree in Mathematics

    Average time to complete: Less than 2 years

    An associate degree in mathematics generally spans about 60 credits. Most math-related careers set a full-time bachelor’s degree as a requirement; thus, many students take associate degrees first to pursue business, finance, or engineering careers later on in their practice.

    In this degree, expect to tackle courses on calculus, intermediate algebra, basic statistics, introductory linear algebra, analytic geometry, and problem-solving.

    Graduates of this degree are already eligible to work right after graduating. Some organizations employ associate degree holders for occupations in the business or finance sector.

    Entry-level jobs: financial clerks, claim adjusters, actuaries

  2. Bachelor Degree in Mathematics

    Average time to complete: 4 years

    A bachelor’s degree in mathematics includes 120 credits. Coursework differs, but programs usually offer basic training in the first few years. Eventually, coursework advances into more challenging discussions, such as intermediate calculus, complex variables, probability and statistics, abstract algebra, applied regression analysis, complex variables, and applied probability.

    After graduating with this degree, students can obtain varied careers depending on their specialization and preferences.

    Entry-level jobs: Operations research analyst, financial analyst, accountant

  3. Master’s Degree in Mathematics

    Average time to complete: 1 to 2 years

    A master’s degree in mathematics looks into advanced study and research. Here, students will learn more about complex and numerical analysis, differential equations, probability, symbolic algebra, algorithms, real and complex analysis, categorical data analysis, coding theories, and graph theory

    Specializations have a major role in education programs at the graduate-level. Master’s degree students can normally customize their own concentrations or pick from popular choices, like mathematical finance, modeling, and more. They can also take related programs focused on either actuarial science or math education.

    The difference between a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Mathematics

    A BA in Math typically goes into more fundamental topics, including a range of courses in liberal arts. BA graduates are more likely to seek interdisciplinary fields like business or teaching.

    Meanwhile, a BS in Math has the more specialized training, particularly in math. BS graduates are more equipped for finance or computer science careers.

    Many schools offer both BA and BS degrees, but a BA in Math is a more preferred course.

    High-level positions: mathematician, statistician, survey researcher, economist

  4. Doctoral Degree in Mathematics

    Average time to complete: 4 to 7 years

    The highest education level available in a mathematics program is a doctoral degree. This degree also offers specializations, such as in computer algebra, mathematical theory analysis, and more. Courses in a doctoral degree often start with an original dissertation.

    Only a few require a PhD in math, but it can land you in any career or field. Many doctoral programs are focused on math education, and that is why most doctoral students take teaching and research professions.

    Classes in PhD math programs are differentiable manifolds, combinatorics, partial differential equations, logic, analytic number theory, and algebraic number theory.

    High-level positions: Postsecondary teacher, physicist, astronomer

Source: College Factual

Mathematics Degree Requirements

Compared to other degrees, mathematics degree prerequisites are usually reliant on a student’s educational background in math. Most requirements are also quite test-centered.

Admission Requirements

  1. Coursework. Background on further mathematics, pure mathematics, and mechanics are heavily considered. Prior knowledge or ample experience in studying other related subjects may also be accepted and provide more features to your studies. You may also need to take a language proficiency test or pre-sessional language programs. Some schools exempt students with high grades in their first year so that they can directly proceed to the second year or enroll in advanced courses.
  2. Test Scores. When taking the Advanced Placement (AP) test, 4 or 5 are the only accepted scores. For the ACT or SAT, a high score in math or science is also more preferred by schools. If you want to stand out, take additional standardized test scores related to math.
  3. Recommendation Letter. Get an outstanding recommendation letter written by your math or science teacher to add more credibility to your application.
  4. Other Considerations. Schools consider applicants who exemplify well-roundedness, which can be seen in participation in clubs or taking leadership roles.

Skill Requirements

  1. Complex Problem-Solving. Math majors must always be able to identify difficult problems and assess related details to come up with, evaluate, and execute solutions.
  2. Critical Thinking. Critical thinking skills allow math majors to use logic and reasoning to determine the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of certain solutions, strategies, or conclusions.
  3. Mathematical Reasoning. The skill to select the best mathematical approach to solve a problem is one of the most indispensable mathematics degree skills.
  4. Number Facility. Math majors are known for their ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide fast and correctly.
  5. Deductive Reasoning. Applying general rules to certain problems to find sensible answers is also a must-have skill for math majors.
  6. Inductive Reasoning. Math majors must also be able to combine details, whether related or unrelated, to construct general policies or findings.
  7. Information Ordering. Math majors will be tasked to arrange events or actions in chronological order based on certain rules; therefore, they need to possess information ordering skills.

What to Look for in a Mathematics Program

Mathematics may be a challenging degree, but some points could make this program easy to take. Here are some important matters to bear in mind when looking for a math program.

Available Specializations

Colleges and universities offer a wide variety of specializations in mathematics degree programs. Some of these specializations are algebra and number theory, analysis and functional analysis, and applied mathematics, just to name a few.


See to it that your target program or school is accredited first because everything depends on it, from financial aid to future employment. The DOE and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) acknowledge the bodies that regionally accredit colleges and universities.

Check only for regional acknowledgment as math degrees do not need programmatic accreditation.

Professional Connections and Opportunities

Look for a school that has a club or a professional association that you can join. Clubs and associations regularly organize events, where you can meet industry experts. Some associations also offer travel grants and huge discounts to support students in attending meetings and conferences in other countries.

Financial Aid Options

School programs offer grants to recruit top students in a forward-thinking area like a mathematics degree program. Moreover, aid options from the federal and state go beyond financial assistance as they also help math students improve their worldwide academic competitiveness.

Majors Related to Mathematics 

  1. Engineering
  2. Computer Science
  3. Economics
  4. Biological and Biomedical Science
  5. Physical Science

The Essence of Mathematics

Often heralded as the language of science, mathematics helps us find errors and resolve them at the same time. It also adds to the credibility of our works. Quantifiable facts are vital to reports, studies, and research. Without math, computers, quantum mechanics, GPS satellites, and more sophisticated technologies would not be here. (Stokdyk, 2020).

Most people have this notion that math is only a never-ending chain of numbers, fractions, or figures, and it will not be that helpful in real-life situations. In essence, the complexity of math and its many significant breakthroughs lead us all to life’s simplest answers and solutions (College Choice, 2021).



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  2. Borovik, A. (2021, February 6). A Mathematician’s View of the Unreasonable Ineffectiveness of Mathematics in Biology. arXiv.
  3. Burnham, K. (2019, April 29). 10 Careers for People Who Love Math. Northeastern University.
  4. Carlton, G. (2021, May 28). The Best Mathematics Programs in the World Today. The Best Schools.
  5. College Choice Staff Writers. (2021, May 28). Best Undergraduate Mathematics Degrees. College Choice.
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  12. Palmer, K. (2020, June 3). What Can You Do with a Math Degree? Southern New Hampshire University.
  13. Peck, T. (2020, October 7). A Guide to the Different Math Majors in College. Collegevine.
  14. Quacquarelli Symonds. (n.d.). Mathematics DegreesQuacquarelli Symonds.
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