Santa Clara University

Mathematics and Computer Science department

Why Should You Major In Mathematics?

Math is fun!  It is full of applications, yet enjoyable in its own right. 

And you'll get the answer to the question, "What comes after Calculus?"  Mathematics is a field with a surprising variety of specialties.  You can learn about Abstract Algebra, Number Theory, Cryptography, non-Euclidian Geometry, Probability and Statistics, Combinatorics, Differential Equations, and Graph Theory, just to name a few.

The list of career options for math majors is nearly endless. Employers in just about every field love to hire math majors because of the amazing skill set they bring to the job. Math majors are critical, creative and logical thinkers. Studying math develops such skills as arguing logically and rigorously, thinking abstractly, formulating and solving problems, analyzing data, and creating and analyzing mathematical models.  Engineering, biotech, actuarial, and computer companies need employees with mathematical knowledge and abilities. Math majors become very successful management consultants, doctors, and lawyers.  Companies in the computer and communications industries employ many mathematicians, as do oil companies, banks, insurance companies, consulting firms, and the federal government (the NSA is the country's leading employer of mathematicians). Wall Street has also become a major employer of math majors.

Having a degree in math is a necessity for some fascinating very math-specific careers as well. Statisticians are needed by a wide variety of companies. The (highly paid) professionals responsible for computing insurance rates are specialized statisticians called actuaries. The computer industry provides many lucrative jobs for math majors. Many sophisticated applications of computers, such as the graphics you see in the movies and the compressed video and audio signals for your phone, involve a great deal of advanced mathematics.  Many biotech companies hire mathematics majors because of the highly mathematical nature of the field. Teaching mathematics is an incredibly rewarding career, and every year roughly half of the positions advertised for secondary school teachers in math go unfilled.

Really hot today is the area of cryptography - the making and breaking of codes.  Cryptography is used by many businesses.  Cable TV companies encode their signals, requiring customers to have decoding boxes.  Online businesses must encrypt their customers' credit card information.  Even your ECampus sessions are encrypted. 

Ooh, and math is a good pre-med major! In fact, math majors enjoy higher acceptance rates to medical school than many more traditional majors like biology. Professional graduate schools in business, law, physical sciences, engineering, and medicine think mathematics is a great major because it develops analytical skills and the ability to work in a problem-solving environment.

Consistently, students majoring in mathematics score substantially higher than average on both the LSAT (law school admissions test) and GMAT (business school admissions test).  When ranking scores by major, mathematics is typically ranked number one.

Knowing advanced math can only lead to great things. In addition to higher pay, a math major's employment promises higher levels of job satisfaction. In The Jobs Rated Almanac, 250 jobs are ranked according to six criteria: income, stress, physical demands, potential growth, job security, and work environment. Mathematician consistently ranks in the top 5%. Moreover, some of the jobs rated higher than mathematician, such as actuary, also involve significant mathematical reasoning and knowledge and therefore are likely filled by math majors as well. Mathematicians have an opportunity to make a lasting contribution to society by helping to solve problems in such diverse fields as medicine, management, economics, government, computer science, physics, psychology, engineering, and social sciences. 

So the question really is, why would you choose not to major in mathematics?

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