Degrees Explained: What is a mathematics degree?

mathematics degree
Are you mathematically inclined? A mathematics degree could be in the books for you. Source: THIERRY ZOCCOLAN/AFP

A mathematics degree can open the door to many careers in the field across a wide range of industries, from banking to insurance. Without mathematics, we would not have computers, quantum mechanics, and GPS satellites — it has wide application and you won’t be short of job roles to apply for.

The fundamental knowledge and skills gained from the degree also acts as a good platform for students to pursue a postgraduate degree in the field.

Here’s what you should know about pursuing a mathematics degree.

What is it?

A mathematics degree typically equips students with an understanding of mathematical theory and its application. 

Some universities offer them as a BA or BSc programme — neither is superior to the other as they typically reflect the type of math courses taken. Some programmes are broad while others are more specialised. It’s best check with your prospective university about the details. 

For instance, the University of Florida notes the following about its BA and BSc courses: “BS track is a selection of courses which will best prepare you for graduate school in Mathematics,” while the “BA track offers the greatest flexibility in the choice of electives and their availability,” including in areas such as computer science, industrial engineering, physics and statistics. 

Some universities may combine mathematics with another area of study, such as the University of Nottingham, which offers a BSc (Hons) in Mathematics and Management

How long does it take to complete?

The programme can typically be completed within three years of full-time study.

What will I learn?

mathematics degree

German mathematician Peter Scholze, one of the four winners of the prestigious Fields prize, is pictured in front of a board where he demonstrated his field of work during a press conference in Bonn, western Germany on Aug 7, 2018. Source: Patrik Stollarz/AFP

The modules you’ll learn will  vary between institutions, but the first year will usually equip you with the fundamental mathematical knowledge and skills, which will help you take on more advanced courses later on. 

Programmes may also include individual and group research projects.

For instance, Imperial College London’s BSc in Mathematics has core and optional courses that include an Introduction to Applied Mathematics, Calculus and Applications, Group Research Project, Linear Algebra and Numerical Analysis and Mathematical Biology.

Other subjects that you may take on could include topology and coding theory, to name a few.

Where can I work with a mathematics degree?

Graduates can find employment across a wide range of industries, including banking, accountancy, consultancy, education and market research.

Your roles may vary — a degree in the field could prepare you for roles such as a financial analyst, an educator, a statistician or an accountant.

A degree in the field also serves as a good foundation for you to pursue a graduate degree in the field, such as an MSc in Mathematics or a related field. 

Alternatively, you can also pursue a professional qualification such as the ACCA or CAT, depending on your career goals and interests. You may be exempted from certain modules, which means reducing the time needed to complete your course. 

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