Why Major in Math?
Information for prospective majors
The mathematics major prepares students for careers in the following branches of industry:
- Insurance and Financial companies. Actuarial mathematicians estimate cost of insurance policies and pension funds.
- Industrial Research Labs (e.g. AT&T, Bell Lab) Applied mathematicians construct models (solutions) for economic, engineering, biology, meteorology, and other scientific problems.
- Statistical Data Institutions (e.g. Bureau of Census, polling companies). Statisticians analyze survey results and data from scientific experiments.
and for graduate programs leading to Masters and Ph.D. degrees in a variety of fields including
- Pure mathematics
Currently there is a strong market demand for actuarial mathematicians and statisticians. Mathematicians are also frequently hired by the computer industry. Salaries, working conditions, and advancement opportunities are similar to those in computer science, chemistry, or engineering. Some recent data on non-academic careers can be found at the AMS website. They also have some early career profiles of students who have graduated with a degree in mathematics.
To experience applied mathematics first hand some of our third year students have taken summer internships in industry. Students in pure mathematics have participated in off-campus summer research programs as well, in each case resulting in student publications or presentations at national meetings.
Preparing to become a Math Major
If you are a high school student and
- math is your favorite subject in high school
- you do well on math tests
- you prefer mathematics to other sciences or
- you enjoy logical puzzles
then math is the major for you. Take all math courses that your school has to offer, especially Pre-Calculus/Trigonometry and Calculus. If you earn a grade of 4 or 5 on the Calculus AB Advanced Placement Test, then you will receive credit for our first calculus course and you will have more room in your schedule to pursue minors or a second major.
Another fun and interesting way to prepare to become a mathematics major is to get involved with the numerous high school mathematics contests that are offered at the local and national level. Contests such as AMC, AIME, USAMO, USAMTS, ARML, Mandelbrot, Math League, provide an exciting opportunity to meet other students who share a common interest in mathematics and problem solving. Contest problems are often challenging and intriguing and they provide and entertainment while honing serious mathematics skills that will assist you in your undergraduate studies. More information on recreational problem solving at the high school level can be found at the Art of Problem Solving website.
Mathematics at the University of Scranton
The program begins with Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Introduction to Mathematical Proof. In the junior year students enroll into advanced courses in pure (e.g., Real Analysis I and II, Modern Algebra I and II, Number Theory, Complex Variables) or applied mathematics (e.g., Differential Equations, Numerical Analysis, Statistics.) Students in the Honors Program and students with special interests, not covered by our regular course offering, may be able to take reader courses. In reader courses the student learns meets 1 - 3 times a week to discuss independent readings with the professor. In the past, reader courses have been given in Mathematical Logic, Set Theory, Applications of Linear Algebra, the Surreal Numbers, Nonstandard Analysis, Category Theory, and many other areas.
While the course titles may sound unfamiliar now, rest assure all are taught by experienced (full time) faculty who are consistently ranked very highly by students. Junior/Senior level math classes average between 10 to 20 students. We pay close attention to the quality of our teaching and pride ourselves in working individually with all math majors. Many courses utilize our Math Lab equipped with super fast PC-s designed to be used by mathematics students.
Students who express an early interest in higher mathematics have an opportunity to enroll in the Faculty Student Research Program. After two to four semesters of joint research with faculty members, students may write papers that are sent to professional journals or may present their work at regional and national conferences.
Undergraduate research experience can lead to scholarships and other benefits in graduate schools.
Nearly all math majors complete a minor in business, computer science, chemistry, physics, or economics. Some double major in education. Approximately 60% of our graduates find employment in insurance agencies, research labs, schools, and financial institutions. They start as actuaries, programmers, teachers, and statisticians. Among their employers are: AT&T, Prudential Insurance, Hewitt Associates, Towers Perrin, Actuarial Science Associates, The Segal Company, Guy Carpenter Co., Keane Inc., Intermetrics, Inc. and Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Their salaries are similar to science students (e.g., Chemistry, Computers) and business students (Accounting, Finance). The remaining 40% of math majors continue their education in graduate schools including: Lehigh University, Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania, Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond), Rutgers University, University of California (Irvine), Penn State University (University Park), University of Rochester, Florida State University (Tallahassee), Syracuse University, University of Colorado (Boulder), University of Dayton, Indiana University, Colorado State University, and others.
To learn more about the Mathematics major at the University of Scranton, browse around this web site. You can read about our faculty, course offerings, student activities, and find links to other fun math sites. You can also send e-mail to any faculty member (emails are on the faculty/staff page). They will be happy to answer your questions. You may also reach out to Dr. Anthony Ferzola, Mathematics Department Chair.