Online Degrees in Mathematics

Mathematics

“Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers.”

Shakuntala Devi

Nothing could be truer. We use math in our everyday lives without even thinking about it – whether it’s buying groceries or simply looking at your phone to see what time it is. Although, math sadly has a bad reputation as a “tough” subject, it has applications in nearly every industry and can lead to a number of careers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment in the field is projected to grow 26 percent in the decade leading up to 2028 giving rise to a variety of different opportunities for careers in mathematics.

According to the College Board, if you are someone who enjoys puzzles, finding patterns and other intellectual challenges, then perhaps a degree in math is right for you. As math can be a largely theoretical subject, it can lend itself well to online learning. An online mathematics degree may help recent high school graduates and working professionals gain the college education they want while still adhering to work, family and other commitments.

There are two main types of mathematicians: theoretical and applied mathematicians. Theoretical mathematicians typically conduct research and come up with new ways to think about quantities. They may develop formulas and theories as a result of their research. Applied mathematicians usually look at how to apply various mathematical formulae and theories to solve real world problems.

Mathematicians may be employed by government agencies, businesses, finance houses or universities. While their duties may vary according to where they work, some of them include:

  • Developing new mathematical rules, theories and concepts in different areas of the field
  • Designing experiments, opinion polls or surveys to collect data
  • Developing mathematical or statistical models to analyze data
  • Using data analysis methods to improve business decisions

The following steps outline one way you can become a mathematician:

  1. Take advanced math classes in high school.
  2. Take computer courses to get comfortable around them.
  3. Research the best online mathematics degree programs around you to see which ones suit your needs.
  4. Enroll in the program.
  5. Choose a specialization
  6. Complete a more advanced degree should you wish to do so.
  7. Look for a job in an area that interests you.

The field of mathematics is huge and the advent of big data is expected to open up a number of different opportunities, the BLS reports. Mathematics majors may be able to find employment in an array of industries ranging from healthcare to technology.

The table below outlines a few of these occupations along with the mean wages, job growth, and employment outlook using data from the BLS.

Career
Employment
Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Mathematicians2,630$107,28026%
Actuaries22,260$120,97020.1%
Financial and Investment Analysts, Financial Risk Specialists, and Financial Specialists, All Other458,510$94,1606.2%
Mathematical Science Teachers, Postsecondary51,150$86,3302.9%
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks1,512,660$42,960-3.9%

The BLS recommends taking courses in a related field, like biology or engineering for example, in order to help prepare you to work in different industries.

The Best Online Mathematics Degree Programs

Online mathematics degree programs range from associate to doctoral degrees with a number of different careers linked to each. An associate degree can serve as an introduction to the field of professional mathematics and may qualify graduates to work in entry-level positions as clerks in banks or insurance houses. A bachelor’s degree may act as a stepping stone for a graduate degree or allow graduates to find work as teachers or with the federal government. According to the BLS an advanced degree, either a master’s degree or a doctorate, is often the minimum requirement for mathematicians to find employment in the private sector.

We ranked these online colleges for mathematics using factors important to online students such as tuition, percentage of financial aid, student-to-faculty ratio. We encourage you to look at the methodology at the bottom of the page.

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What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?

Online certificate programs in mathematics may help students grasp the basic concepts of college-level math. Students may learn how to apply these concepts in real-world situations to solve issues in their daily jobs.

Typical duration: One year of part-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Topics may include algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus among others. Some examples of courses include:

  • Differential equations
  • Elem theory of numbers
  • Elementary computational methods
  • Probability theory

Possible electives: Elements of statistical inference; introduction to mathematical statistics; mathematical models and applications

What can I do after earning a certificate in mathematics?

A certificate in mathematics may act as a foundation for a degree in another field or allow qualify individuals for promotion or an increase in salary in their existing workplaces. Depending on previous work experience and/or other qualifications, a certificate program may also qualify you to work in data or financial analysis.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

An online associate degree in mathematics can lay the foundations for mathematical study by introducing students to core math concepts that have applications in a number of different fields. Students can learn to express mathematical ideas and solve problems by applying appropriate analytical methods.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Apart from general education courses, core course work can include topics like Boolean algebra, functions, logarithms, probability distributions, and derivatives among others. Some examples of courses include:

  • Calculus
  • Introduction to discrete mathematics
  • Introduction to statistical analysis
  • Linear algebra
  • Logic

What kind of jobs can I get after earning an associate degree in mathematics?

An associate degree in mathematics may allow students to transfer their credits toward an online bachelor’s degree in mathematics or another STEM field. Students may also be able to obtain employment as:

  • Bookkeeper
  • Data analyst
  • Financial clerk
  • Mathematical technician

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

Students enrolled in online bachelor degree programs in mathematics can develop more advanced mathematical abilities and reasoning skills than those in an associate degree program. Some bachelor’s degree programs offer a variety of technical electives which can expand student knowledge beyond mathematics.

Typical duration: Four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Apart from general education courses, core curricula can vary depending on the specialization chosen as students may explore topics like linear and abstract algebra, integration, mathematical proofs among others. Some examples of courses include:

  • Abstract algebra
  • Advanced calculus
  • Mathematical proof and problem solving
  • Modern algebra
  • Real analysis

Possible electives: Statistical techniques; history of math; introduction to topology

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a bachelor’s in mathematics?

Graduates with an online bachelor’s degree in mathematics may be able to build careers in the fields of teaching, research, industry, insurance, and management or go on to graduate study. Potential occupations include:

  • Actuary
  • Financial analyst
  • Management analyst
  • Operations research analyst

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

An online master’s degree in mathematics can help students focus their mathematical education in an area of their interest. Students may deepen their understanding of various topics in the field by studying the latest advancements in the field and learn how to conduct research.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in mathematics or a related field; some programs may require GRE scores

Typical coursework: Curricula can vary depending on the focus of the program. Some examples of courses include:

  • Applied functional analysis
  • Graph theory
  • Iterative techniques
  • Principles of applied mathematics
  • Real variables

Possible electives: Analysis of algorithms; stochastic models; introduction to financial engineering

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master’s in mathematics?

The BLS reports that individuals looking to build their careers in mathematics in private industries typically need at least a master’s degree. They can also help working professionals advance their careers and become eligible for leadership positions. Individuals with a teaching degree along with a master’s in math may be able to find employment in schools and community colleges as math teachers. Some potential job titles include:

  • Cryptographer
  • Mathematics teacher
  • Quantitative analyst
  • Statistician

Online graduate certificates in mathematics may suit working professionals who want some graduate mathematical education but do not have the time, financial resources or even the need for a master’s in mathematics. Certificate programs can help such individuals expand their knowledge in a focused manner. As certificate programs do not have as expansive curriculum requirements as a full-fledged degree, they may be completed in a shorter time with less financial commitment required. Graduates of these certificate programs may also be able to apply the credits they have earned toward a master’s degree at a later date should they wish to do so.

Typical duration: One year of part-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree

Typical coursework: Curricula may vary from program to program. Some examples of courses include:

  • Applied complex variables
  • Applied partial differential equations
  • Combinatorics
  • Introduction to real analysis
  • Symbolic computations in mathematics

Specializations in Mathematics

Specializations in mathematics can help students focus their studies and careers in areas of the field that interest them. Students may be able to choose a specialization or concentration as a part of their online mathematics degree program right from the bachelor’s degree level. Some examples of concentrations include:

  • Applied mathematics
  • Computational mathematics
  • Mathematics education
  • Pure mathematics
  • Statistics

Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary process schools undergo to demonstrate that their educational offerings are of a high quality. Enrolling in an accredited school can be important for students of online mathematics degrees as it is often a prerequisite for receiving federal financial aid and for transferring credits from one educational program to another. Many employers may also prefer hiring candidates with degrees from an accredited program. While there is no specific professional body that accredits mathematics degree programs, you can find a list of recognized regional and national accrediting agencies on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website.

If you are considering entering the teaching profession, do have a look at our online teaching degrees page for further information on accredited degrees for teachers.

Licensure and Certification in Mathematics

While there are no specific licensures or professional certifications required to become a mathematician, they may be necessary depending on the industry, your job role, as well as your state requirements. For example, those working in the financial industry may need to be licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). You can learn more about this on our online financial degrees page.

Similarly those involved in the teaching profession may need to be both licensed and certified. You can find more information on teaching licenses and certifications here.

Employment Statistics

Mathematicians

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)
  • Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Virginia
  • New Jersey
  • Maryland
  • Texas
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
  • Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

Financial Analysts

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Other Investment Pools and Funds
  • Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities
  • Monetary Authorities-Central Bank
  • Nondepository Credit Intermediation
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises
States with the highest level of employment
  • New York
  • California
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Boulder, CO
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
  • Salem, OR

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

As with many STEM occupations, there are a number of scholarships available for eligible students of mathematics degree programs. Scholarships may be offered by federal and state governments, colleges, educational foundations among others. The competition can be tough so it can be a good idea to apply to more than one program. We’ve listed some scholarships below to help you get started on your search:

Other resources for those aspiring to work in the field of mathematics

Methodology

To be included in our rankings for the top colleges for online degrees in Mathematics by degree level all colleges had to meet the following 4 requirements:

  1. Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
  2. Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
  3. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2015-16
  4. Have reported data for all 19 ranking variables for associate/bachelor’s and 11 ranking variables for master’s (listed below)

We then ranked colleges and universities in the United States that fit our criteria, using 2016-17 data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the weights specified. The final totals were:

  • 16 colleges for associate degree in Mathematics
  • 29 colleges for bachelor’s degree in Mathematics
  • 42 colleges for master’s degree in Mathematics

Please note that the accuracy of data derived from IPEDS depends on colleges regularly reporting to IPEDS. Not all colleges are as regular as they should be in updating their information with IPEDS.

OnlineDegrees.com, therefore, has gone a step further to ensure the rankings you see are accurate and verified. We manually check each college website to provide you the top rankings you can rely on. Because of this double-check, the number of colleges may vary for each degree level

We then scored the final list of colleges by degree level on a 100-point scale using these specific data points:

Associate/Bachelor’s

    1. Associate’s/Bachelor’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
    2. Ratio of undergraduate students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
    3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
    4. Retention rate
    5. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
    6. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
    7. Student-to-faculty ratio
    8. Variety of Programs, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
    9. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
    10. The availability of any tuition plans (4 variables considered)
    11. a. Payment b. Guaranteed c. Prepaid d. Other

    12. Services (2 variables considered)
    13. a. Academic/Career b. Placement for Completers

    14. Credit offerings (4 variables considered)
    15. a. Dual b. Life c. AP d. Military

Master’s

    1. Master’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
    2. Ratio of graduate students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
    3. Average in-state tuition for graduates
    4. Credit offerings (2 variables considered)
      1. a. Life
        b. Military
    5. Services (2 variables considered)
      1. a. Academic/Career
        b. Placement for Completers
    6. The availability of any tuition plans (3 variables considered)
      1. a. Payment
        b. Prepaid
        c. Other
    7. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media

NOTE: The accuracy of data derived from IPEDS depends on colleges regularly reporting to IPEDS. Not all colleges are as regular as they should be in updating this information with IPEDS.OnlineDegrees.com, therefore, has gone a step further to ensure the rankings you see are accurate and verified. We manually check each college website to provide you the top rankings you can rely on. Because of this double-check, the number of colleges may vary for each degree level.

Methodology Sources:

Sources:

Methodologies and Sources