Online Graduate Programs in Mathematics could help students integrate school with current professional and personal responsibilities. Many online math programs are mirrors of their campus counterparts, but allow students to schedule study around their own timetables.
written by Rana Waxman
Typically, lectures and course materials are accessible from anywhere that has a high-speed internet connection. Working towards an online math degree could be a great way for at-work adults to acquire new knowledge in a specific area of mathematics, as well as develop their ability to use logic and solve complex problems.
Online Graduate Programs in Mathematics are offered in pure and applied math at the masters and certificate levels. Applied math programs could ground students in the mathematical methods that underlie the physical, engineering and biological sciences. Pure math programs tend to be theoretical and students could spend time solving complex problems with math formulas.
General online graduate programs in mathematics might cover both pure and applied mathematics concepts. As a discipline, mathematics focuses on the analysis of quantities, scales, forms, and their relationships, and makes use of symbolic language and logic. Topics in general math include the following subjects.
While some mathematicians develop mathematical theories and models, others may not be formally known as mathematicians. Many pursue careers in related fields and professions like systems analysis, data science, computer programming, actuarial science, operations research analysis and beyond.i For this reason, you may find a variety of online graduate programs in math which explore content relevant to a specific industry. Read program descriptions carefully, or consider the below information, to help determine if a general online math graduate program or a more focused one could fit your goals.
Online masters in mathematics programs could help students prepare to pursue careers in private industry or continue their studies in a PhD program.i Some masters in mathematics online programs offer a broad-based and technical curriculum, but also leave room for students to choose electives and a concentration. Electives could include courses in projective geometry, knot theory and technology in mathematics among others. Students who want to work towards a PhD in math might wish to choose a program with a thesis option, which could provide a framework for further inquiry.
DID YOU KNOW?
In private industry, mathematicians typically need an advanced degree, either a master’s degree or a doctorate.i
Online Master of Science (MS) in mathematics programs could ask students to complete anywhere from 30 to 36 credits. The types of courses vary but could include content in mathematical proofs, analysis, algebra, statistics and applied mathematics. Courses in analysis often covers topics such as Topology, Complex Variables, Advanced Calculus I & II. Courses that fall under the category of Algebra might include Vector Spaces, Number Theory, Group Theory, Ring Theory, and Field Theory.
An online Master of Science in Technology Innovation Management (MSTIM) program could help business leaders develop a grasp of how to use and process data to further organizational goals. One of the potential areas of emphasis in this type of program is data science.
Data Science is a type of applied mathematics that uses data analysis to support and improve business outcomes. Students might study some of the quantitative measurements used in business intelligence, predictive modeling and data mining. Other courses could focus on big data and security.
An online Master of Science in Data Science program might help students learn to analyze information and use it to implement solutions in various industries. In schools that offer the MS in Data Science online, the program may consist of 30 credits divided between core courses, a capstone, a thesis, and an area of emphasis. Potential emphases might include social science analytics, cybersecurity, business analytics and financial crime. Data Science core courses tend to explore statistical methods, data mining, machine learning, and data visualization.
In some universities, an online Master of Arts in Mathematics program is intended for students who are licensed secondary teachers and seek extra credentials. For instance, there are some MA programs that might prepare teachers to teach dual credit classes and at a community college or technical school. If this is your goal, check with your state education board to ensure the program you select could help you fulfill any requirements.
In contrast to an online MS in mathematics, MA courses might offer more liberal arts elective topics such as the history of mathematics. Required core topics might consist of introductory probability and statistics courses, along with curriculum design and classroom assessment. Contact individual schools for a full course list.
Online Graduate Certificate in Mathematics programs may also be designed for current teachers who wish to pursue extra teacher certification. Prospective students might therefore need a teaching license, as well as some prerequisite coursework. However these programs typically entail about 18 credit hours, so are shorter than a full MA degree.
In many cases, these credits could meet the needed hours of graduate coursework to teach math at a community college level or teach dual-credit high school courses. If this is your goal, you might contact your education board to inform yourself of the requirements in your region.
It may be hard or impossible to find an accredited online PhD program in Applied Math or Statistics, as these programs typically require a residency. One reason for this is that the PhD in Mathematics program is highly focused on research. PhD candidates choose programs for their professors, not just the coursework. The scope of research you might conduct as a PhD student is generally linked with the type of program you enroll in, as well as the faculty's areas of expertise. For example, pure mathematics programs might allow you to study number theory, algebra or discrete mathematics. By comparison, in an applied mathematics program, you might study complex analysis, computational methods, fluid dynamics, computer modeling or stochastic methods.
Instead of an online Phd program, you might complete an online MS in mathematics and then, if your school has a doctoral program, you may be able to apply there to continue your studies.
The format of online graduate math courses varies, both between schools and programs, especially since technology evolves and new learning tools are used. That said, in many ways online graduate programs in mathematics are like campus programs. Students might start out with the rest of their cohort, follow a weekly schedule and meet regular deadlines. You need to keep up with any lectures, readings, activities and assignments that are scheduled and complete work when it is due. And, any online exams are typically proctored and taken on the same day as classroom students, unless an exception has been approved by the instructor. However, unlike campus peers, you are usually able to choose when and where you do your coursework, lending additional flexibility and convenience.
Schools that offer online math degrees generally want to keep students motivated and may provide highly interactive features. For instance, many online math programs utilize discussion boards. Discussion boards allow students to engage with classmates and faculty, ask and answer questions, or talk about class material.
Some online graduate programs in math are purely online. There are no in-person meetings, although online chats could function like traditional office hours. Instruction in these online math programs could take many forms. Students might have textbook assignments, instructor-made videos, and tutorial worksheets. These assignments might be submitted through the online course management system, graded and returned. Exams, on the other hand, might require that a student arrange a proctor.
Online – Hybrid Lectures
Other online math graduate programs may offer courses in a hybrid format. These courses could be taught at the university campus with regular lectures that are broadcast via web conference software. In this type of program, online students might log in along with their campus classmates to take part in discussion. Also, lectures are usually recorded so that students who can’t ‘make it to class’ might catch up later.
The capstone project is typically completed at the end of an online masters degree in mathematics. In it, students could apply all aspects of their curriculum on a project or practicum that has been approved by their school. It is often mentored by a faculty member.
In some online math graduate programs, students may have the option to complete a research thesis under the guidance of a faculty member or committee. Usually, this involves original research and could be a great way to study your special interests in-depth and/or prepare to continue your education with a doctorate degree.
Admissions to online graduate programs in mathematics vary from school to school. For some online math programs, applicants may need an undergraduate background in mathematics, physics or another computational science. Some schools also ask for transcripts, letters of reference, statement of goals and GRE math scores. It is often recommended that a student have some type of experience in calculus or have taken a course where they had to write mathematical proofs. If this is the case for you, your past math teachers might write letters of references for you to include, if required.
Mathematicians are, above all else, problem solvers. Problems are of course solved with mathematical concepts and formulas, and through technology, scientific rules and related methods. Mathematicians spend time identifying complex problems and try to come up with solutions based on their review of information. Their solutions are arrived at through logic and critical analysis, which means they need good communication skills. These include active learning and listening, as well as the ability to read, speak and write. Other abilities that mathematicians need are systems analysis and systems evaluation. Skills such as these could be used to help achieve goals, predict and affect outcomes.ii
As someone who enjoys calculation and forecasts, you might appreciate a recent prediction by the BLS. They report that “Those with a graduate degree in mathematics, very strong quantitative and data analysis skills, and a background in a related discipline, such as business, computer science, or statistics, should have the best job prospects.” While a degree is not a guarantee of employment, graduates might be prepared to pursue a variety of potential career paths.
Find great mathematics graduate programs online! Review online graduate programs in mathematics by degree level. Read through paid programs, then use the on-page form to contact schools right away.
[i] bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematicians.htm | [ii] onetonline.org/link/summary/15-2021.00