What Can I do with a Mathematics Degree?

Most people get a mathematics degree to prepare themselves for industry jobs, teaching, or graduate school.

Check out the current positions and employers of WSU Mathematics graduates (PDF).

Industry Jobs

Jobs in the private sector abound. Whether you're interested in developing models and interpreting their results, excited about creating efficient algorithms to expedite known processes, or intrigued by the mechanisms involved in securing data systems, mathematics and its applications are the tools of choice.

Models are needed to investigate air flow across the surface of aircraft wings, chemical and biological processes, astronomical trajectories, urban development, and more. These models need to be designed, created, and analyzed. Draw conclusions and make predictions in any industry. Combine mathematics and statistics and instantly become the most desirable hire.
Wall Street has become a major employer of math majors. Many investment and financial firms consider mathematicians prized hires in an attempt to match the outstanding success of multibillionaire Differential Geometer, James Simons (founder of the Renaissance Technologies Corporation and the top hedge fund, the Medallion Fund). Increase your earning potential by incorporating mathematics into your College of Business experience.
The computer industry provides many lucrative jobs for math majors. Beyond mere proficiency in computer programming, math majors are trained to address the more fundamental issues involved in the creation of new algorithms. Furthermore, many sophisticated applications of computers involve a great deal of deep mathematics, such as the creation of computer graphics and the compression of video and audio signals. Technology companies are looking for employees who can integrate mathematics and computer science into a comprehensive picture.
Recent breakthroughs in the study of DNA and proteins have generated a great deal of interest in mathematical biology. Many biotech companies hire mathematics majors because of the high mathematical content and quantitative modeling in the field. Bring mathematics into your life science studies and make major breakthroughs.
Cryptography – the making and breaking of secret codes – is a quickly expanding area. It’s not only government agencies (such as the CIA and NSA) that are interested in hiring mathematicians. Numerous businesses also require cryptography. For example, the cable TV companies encode their signals, forcing the viewer to rent their decoding devices in order to turn the signals back into a television picture. Banks also employ cryptography in order to protect the privacy and integrity of their transactions. Number theory and abstract algebra is the branch of pure mathematics which provides the theoretical underpinnings for much of the recent progress in code creation while statistics and advanced calculus techniques continue to be the tools of the code-breaker.

Professional Graduate Schools (Business, Law, Medicine)

Professional graduate schools realize that studying mathematics develops analytical skills and the ability to work in a problem-solving environment. Entrance exams support this bias: a study by the National Institute of Education compared LSAT and GMAT scores of 550,000 college students and found that students majoring in mathematics typically received scores 13% higher than the average; more than any other major.

Mathematics Graduate Schools

Pursuing a graduate degree in mathematics will broaden your career opportunities in industry, government, and academia. Research and development positions often require at least a Master’s degree in mathematics or some related field. Typically a Ph.D. is required for the academic work of providing others a university-level education while pursuing your own mathematical and academic research interests. The WSU undergraduate program in Mathematics is your first step on this journey.


Teaching can be an exciting and interactive career. K-12 math teachers are in high demand field and the need is expected to continue to grow. For more career information visit the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics homepage.