Mathematics impacts on daily life in some way or another. For most people, it can be calculating monthly bills, making a budget fit, adding up grocery costs or measuring ingredients for a recipe. Mathematics is so ingrained into everyday life that most people don’t think about what it actually is. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, it is the “study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols”.
Aside from the everyday uses of mathematics, many occurrences are also explained through this intellectual field. With a great focus on logic, mathematics helps individuals and institutions to solve problems and make discoveries.
Undergraduate degree programs in mathematics generally have classes in concepts such as algebra, analysis, probability, geometry and number theory among many others. Because of the nature of the field, students are likely to have lectures and seminars with assessment on individual independent work on problems and theories through examinations and practical work.
Aside from the core curriculum, institutions normally allow or require their students to take a specialisation during the program. Specialisations will be discussed later on in the article.
Entrance into a mathematics degree program varies from institution to institution and even country to country. In the US, some universities require you to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams. In the UK, A-Levels may be considered.
Since mathematics is very heavy on numeracy, applicants may be considered based on performance in previous mathematics classes undertaken by the applicant at the upper secondary level. Evidence of excellent skills in and understanding of mathematics would be essential.
A number of universities also take into consideration advanced placement exams, while some consider transfer credits for post-secondary students or applicants. For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates. Please check with the institution you are interested in for their accreditation details.
As for certifications or licensing, there are no universally recognised or required certification and licensing for graduates with an undergraduate degree in mathematics. Plainly said, there is no status of “certified mathematician”. Mathematicians are normally considered so when they contribute to their specific fields by publishing studies or research.
As mentioned earlier in the article, specialisations are available in a number of institutions. This may be a required part of the degree program for mathematics or it may be optional, depending on the institution. Most students choose to take specialisations which are fit to their choice of career or what they want to research on further. Below is a short list of common specialisations offered by universities:
An undergraduate degree in mathematics can typically take around three to four years of full-time study. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located. Some institutions offer double majors and combined bachelor-masters, which take longer.
There are also a great number of programs for those who want to pursue a master’s degree or a doctorate in mathematics. Around 22% of mathematics graduates in the UK pursue further studies after graduation. A PhD is essential for those planning to teach at the tertiary level.
Mathematics can be applied everywhere. Some graduates choose to work in directly related positions in academic institutions, government research arms and research departments of different industries. Many graduates of mathematics degree programs go into business and finance as analysts and advisers, while some choose to go into information technology and apply their knowledge of mathematics in that field. Some are also involved in marketing as market researchers and analysts.
As with the graduates of other science programs, mathematics degree holders gain many transferable skills. Included are high analytical skills, advanced numeracy, data handling, logical thinking, complex problem solving and data interpretation.
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