Study Math: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Degree Info

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What kind of job can you get with a bachelor's or associate's degree in math? Find out degree requirements, online options and info on courses and math degrees.
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Math Associate's and Bachelor's: Degrees at a Glance

An undergraduate program in math provides you with instruction in various arithmetic topics, such as calculus, geometry, algebra and statistics, and teaches you to apply these concepts in real-world settings. A degree in this major can lead to careers in computer science, engineering, statistics, operations research and finance. Note that most positions related to math require at least a bachelor's degree, and graduate degrees are common.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of mathematicians was projected to increase 16% from 2010-2020, which is about the average for all occupations. In fact, most math-related professions were expected to have average growth, ranging from 14%-17%, during this time period. One high-growth field is software development, which was anticipated to have 30% job expansion in the same decade. Actuaries were also expected to have faster-than-average growth, at a rate of 27%.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Students interested in transferring to a 4-year math degree People interested in entry-level careers in mathematics, finance, technology and other industries
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Accounting clerk ($36,000)*
- Brokerage clerk ($44,000)*
- Payroll clerk ($38,000)*
- Billing clerk ($34,000)*
- Mathematician ($101,000)*
- Statistician ($77,000)*
- Actuary ($103,000)*
- Operations research analyst ($79,000)*
- Accountant ($70,000)*
- Systems software engineer ($97,000)*
- Computer applications engineer ($88,000)*
Time to Completion Two years full-time Four years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements Roughly 60-65 undergraduate credits - Roughly 115-120 undergraduate credits
- Research project
Prerequisites None None
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Math

Associate's degree programs in mathematics, which are offered through community colleges, are usually designed for students who intend to transfer to bachelor's degree programs at 4-year colleges and universities. For this reason, schools generally recommend talking to a college counselor at the 4-year institution you wish to attend in order to ensure all your credits transfer. An associate's degree in math can also help pave the way for advanced studies in law or medicine, since these programs tend to incorporate courses that are often prerequisites for medical school and law school.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Opportunities to gain practical experience
  • Credits are usually transferable
  • Fulfills general education requirements so you can focus on math topics during university study
  • Opportunity to explore interests through electives

Cons

  • Limited career options
  • Jobs for associate's degree holders often offer relatively low earnings
  • Advancement may require additional education

Courses and Requirements

Since this program is meant to prepare you for math instruction in a bachelor's program, much of the curriculum includes general education coursework. You can expect to take classes in English, history, science, speech and computer science. You will also study basic math topics, including calculus, analytical geometry, differential equations and linear algebra. You may also be allowed to take a select number of electives. Some programs offer opportunities for you to gain practical experience in mathematics, such as a first-year experience course or internship option.

Online Degree Options

Many community colleges offer their associate's degree programs in math in distance-learning format. You may be able to take the entire program online, or you may be able to complete a hybrid program, choosing which classes you take online and which classes you take on campus. Your online coursework will include the same general education and basic math requirements as a traditional on-campus program, and it will generally qualify you for transfer to a 4-year institution.

Stand Out with This Degree

During college, you may want to gear your studies toward your desired career field. If you intend on entering an accounting or financial clerk positions directly after your associate's studies, you could familiarize yourself with the software commonly used in these professions. This could include accounting and compliance software, such as Intuit Quicken, records management programs, database applications and project management software. Additionally, employers of accounting clerks often prefer applicants with some training in accounting, and employers may look favorably on financial clerks who have education in business and economics.

Bachelor's in Math

Math programs at the baccalaureate level combine studies in both theoretical and applied mathematics. The aim is to provide you with expertise in a range of mathematical models while teaching you how to use them in various industries. These programs also help you develop logical-reasoning, problem-solving and analytical skills, which are highly sought after by employers in many fields, including engineering, business and software development.

If you've already earned an associate's degree in math, these programs usually allow you to skip the general education and math requirements as long you complete a minimum amount of coursework at the university or college. Bachelor's degree programs in mathematics often prepare you to continue your mathematics education in graduate school.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Broad field of study can lead to a diverse range of careers
  • Leads to positions with high earning potential
  • Shortened curriculum for associate's degree holders
  • Prepares you for graduate studies
  • Strong emphasis on research and laboratory work

Cons

  • May be less qualified than other job candidates; many mathematics and related professionals hold graduate degrees
  • Career development may require advanced education
  • Jobs often require long hours and pressure to meet strict deadlines

Courses and Requirements

In this bachelor's program, you'll take many of the same courses as in the associate's degree program, including general education requirements. You can also expect to study more advanced topics, such as probability and statistics, mathematical analysis, physics and computing science. Along with didactic instruction, many of these courses have laboratory components that allow you to gain hands-on training in each discipline. Electives are also a major part of your curriculum, and you'll be able to choose from courses such as thermodynamics, mechanics and magnetism. Toward the end of your studies, you may be required to take a research course and complete a research project.

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's degree programs in the math major are widely available. You can take all of your courses online, although some programs let you take a combination of online and in-person coursework. The curriculum is similar to that of an on-campus program and covers core topics such as linear algebra and statistics. These programs are particularly geared toward students who have already completed general education coursework at another school and want to finish up their math core. Be sure to select a program that is nationally accredited; these programs meet educational standards and may qualify you for admission to graduate school in the future.

Stand Out with This Degree

Math and technology are closely related fields, so it's important to have a strong understanding of computers as a mathematics major. You may want to use some of your free electives during your 2-year program to gain instruction in industry applications such as spreadsheets, Microsoft Visual Basic, MathWorks MATLAB and other analytical/scientific software. You may also want to take coursework in programming languages, like C++ and Java, which are essential in the computer science field.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Mathematics
      • A.S. General Studies - Mathematics
  • Rochester, NY

    Rochester Institute of Technology

  • Marysville, CA

    Yuba College

  • Rock Springs, WY

    Western Wyoming Community College

  • Snyder, TX

    Western Texas College

  • Altus, OK

    Western Oklahoma State College

  • Carson City, NV

    Western Nevada College

  • Scottsbluff, NE

    Western Nebraska Community College

  • Chula Vista, CA

    Southwestern College

  • Saratoga, CA

    West Valley College

Featured Schools

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. General Studies - Mathematics

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