College: Arts and Sciences
Mathematics is a tool for understanding our world and trying to solve its problems. Mathematical models are used in such diverse areas as determining the shape of aircraft’s wings for maximum lift, analyzing disease spread and control, and simulating network flows for efficient transportation systems.
Mathematics also requires imagination, necessitating abstract and formalized thought on the one hand and creativity and intuition on the other. All people, in every trade and profession, use mathematics in their personal and professional lives. Thus, almost all university students will take formal courses to acquire the use of mathematical tools.
The mathematics major introduces students to the areas of real and complex analysis, number theory, abstract algebra, logic and other fields. Mathematics study can be designed to support different career goals, such as employment in business and industry, biology and medicine, development of new products using physics and chemistry, preprofessional education, or preparation for graduate school.
Students interested in mathematics as a major generally have an ACT Math score of at least 25, or an SAT Math score of at least 590. Students with less preparation are likely to require additional time to complete a major in mathematics.
Upon acceptance into the college, students may declare mathematics as a major. Students should then contact one of the mathematics advisors to map out an appropriate program of courses. The Department of Mathematics offers a Bachelor of Science degree.
The department offers six tracks: Theoretical Math, Math for Educators, Financial Math, Biomath, Applied Math and Honors Math. Students should discuss their long-term goals with their academic advisor to determine the best mathematics track for them.
All tracks require the following courses:
- Calculus sequence (three semesters)
- Calculus-based Statistics
- Foundations of Higher Mathematics
- Linear Algebra
- Math major seminar (required only for non-Honors)
In addition to the required courses, students must take other courses as appropriate for their selected track and long term goals. Courses might include:
- History of Mathematics
- Vector Analysis
- Complex Variables
- Partial Differential Equations
- Number Theory
- Discrete Mathematical Models
- Combinatorial Mathematics
- Calculus on Manifolds
- Real Analysis
- Abstract Algebra
- Numerical Analysis
- Introduction to Financial Math
- Beginning Scientific Computing
- Theory of Interest
- Dynamical Systems
Data analysis requirement
The Department of Mathematics requires Statistics 4201 or Math 4530 and Statistics 4202 to fulfill the General Education data analysis requirement.
The minor consists of the calculus sequence, a course on the foundations of higher mathematics, a post-calculus linear algebra course, and several upper-division elective courses.
Businesses and industries in central Ohio and around the country offer internships specifically for math majors. Internship listings are maintained by the Arts and Sciences Center for Career and Professional Success.
The Department of Mathematics offers many honors courses which comprise a very challenging alternative for highly motivated students. This unified four-year program benefits students by introducing much more mathematical rigor and is especially valuable for students intending to pursue graduate studies in mathematics and other fields. These exceptional courses offer an undergraduate training in mathematics comparable to that at the best universities in the country. Students may be considered for graduation with distinction by completing selected graduate level course work or a research project under the mentorship of a faculty member.
The department provides several undergraduate research opportunities:
The Reading Classics Group provides undergraduates with the opportunity to work as part of a research team with other undergraduates/graduate students/faculty on exciting mathematics topics.
The Mathematical Biosciences Institute* (MBI) provides undergraduates with a summer research opportunity interfacing with faculty and their peers on the intersection of mathematics and the biosciences. (*MBI is funded by the National Science Foundation.)
During the summer, Honors mathematics majors have the opportunity to participate in knot theory research with Dr. Sergei Chmutov. Imagine a rope, tied in a certain way, with its ends glued together: Having two such ropes, can you move one of them around to get the other one? Can you untie it and get a perfect circle? Knot theory, or the mathematical study of knots, concerns itself with answering these questions.
The Department of Mathematics has an active undergraduate math club, “Radical Pi,” which provides opportunities for students to interact with their peers as well as participate in presentations by faculty and graduate students on topics of interest to an undergraduate. A student chapter of SIAM (Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics) reinforces interactions between mathematics and other scientific and technological communities through membership activities, publication of journals and books, and conferences.
A bachelor’s degree in mathematics is designed to provide students with the analytical and logical training necessary for many diverse professions. These students find that their skills in quantitative reasoning are in demand in many careers and are needed for many different positions, very few of which have mathematics in the job title.
Approximately 50 percent of the mathematics specialists are employed in industry, with the federal government and in public administration. The opportunities in industry for persons trained in mathematics are many and varied, including operations research, math modeling, actuarial science and data analysis. Computer programming generates a wealth of mathematical problems in logic, combinatorics, number theory, algebra, differential equations and numerical analysis.
Mathematics majors can also pursue engineering, and they are commonly accepted into medical schools, law schools and graduate programs in mathematics, physics, economics, business, education, statistics and computer science. Preparation in these graduate programs may lead to careers in academia or in the business, industry or government sectors.
Students interested in pursuing high school teaching as a career option need to complete an undergraduate degree in mathematics and then proceed to a master’s degree (MEd) in the College of Education and Human Ecology. Upon completion, students are licensed to teach. In general, students need a 3.0 or better cumulative grade point average, and a 2.7 or better in mathematics courses.
Beginning salaries for students with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics vary widely based on the candidate’s ability, performance and previous experience, as well as the particular industry, business or government organization in which the candidate is employed. Recent surveys indicate that average starting salaries range from $40,000 to $50,000 annually.
Interested in a career in the STEM fields?
Check out the STEM Pathway to discover the many majors Ohio State offers that can lead to a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.