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Mathematics Overview - Preparation - Day In The Life - Application -
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A Ph.D. degree in mathematics usually is the minimum educational requirement for prospective mathematicians, except in the Federal Government. In the Federal Government, entry-level job candidates usually must have a 4-year degree with a major in mathematics or a 4-year degree with the equivalent of a mathematics major -- 24 semester hours of mathematics courses.

Bachelor's Degree Courses
A bachelor's degree in mathematics is offered by most colleges and universities. Mathematics courses usually required for this degree include calculus, differential equations, and linear and abstract algebra. Additional courses might include probability theory and statistics, mathematical analysis, numerical analysis, topology, discrete mathematics, and mathematical logic. Many colleges and universities urge or require students majoring in mathematics to take courses in a field that is closely related to mathematics, such as computer science, engineering, life science, physical science, or economics. A double major in mathematics and another related discipline is particularly desirable to many employers. High school students who are prospective college mathematics majors should take as many mathematics courses as possible while in high school.

University Selection
There are more than 300 graduate programs focused in mathematics, offering both master's and doctoral degrees, in pure or applied mathematics around the country. In graduate school, students conduct research and take advanced courses, usually specializing in a subfield of mathematics.

Professional Science Master's
Professional Science Master's are also available for many areas in mathematics. A Professional Science Master's (PSM) is an reasonably new (about a decade old) graduate degree designed to allow students to pursue advanced training in science or mathematics, while simultaneously developing workplace skills highly valued by employers. PSM programs consist of two years of academic training in an emerging or interdisciplinary area, along with a professional component that may include internships and "cross-training" in workplace skills, such as business, communications, and regulatory affairs. A list of current programs is available here.

Ph.D. Training
In private industry, candidates for mathematician jobs typically need a Ph.D., although there may be opportunities for those with a master's degree. Most of the positions designated for mathematicians are in research and development laboratories, as part of technical teams. In such settings, mathematicians engage either in basic research on pure mathematical principles or in applied research on developing or improving specific products or processes. The majority of those with a bachelor's or master's degree in mathematics who work in private industry do so not as mathematicians but in related fields such as computer science, where they have titles such as computer programmer, systems analyst, or systems engineer.

Specialized Training
For jobs in applied mathematics, training in the field in which the mathematics will be used is very important. Mathematics is used extensively in physics, actuarial science, statistics, engineering, and operations research. Computer science, business and industrial management, economics, finance, chemistry, geology, life sciences, and behavioral sciences are likewise dependent on applied mathematics. Mathematicians also should have substantial knowledge of computer programming, because most complex mathematical computation and much mathematical modeling are done on a computer.

Core Skills
Mathematicians need good reasoning ability and persistence to identify, analyze, and apply basic principles to technical problems.  Communication skills also are important, as mathematicians must be able to interact and discuss proposed solutions with people who may not have extensive knowledge of mathematics.

Coops and Internships
Internships, co-ops, and research can be valuable because they allow you to see what it is like to work in your field. Many mathematicians mention hands-on experience before graduating as an asset when looking for a job and as valuable in helping them decide what kind of first job to look for after graduation.

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the American Mathematical Society, Mathematical Association of America, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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