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Grad Program: Applied Mathematics

Basic Information

Applied mathematics is the application of mathematics to the solution of non-mathematical problems. Applied mathematicians work in government, business, various industries, and academia to solve practical problems: They might calculate the efficiency of airline routes or the effects of a new drug, the environmental effects of alternative energy sources, or the cost-effectiveness of alternative manufacturing processes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that increasingly, applied mathematicians have job titles other than “mathematician.” The pool for jobs titled “mathematician” is expected to shrink, but at the same time, the need for candidates with mathematical skills is increasing. Those who study applied mathematics are generally expected to have equal experience in another discipline representing the sector in which they plan to work (such as computer science) Many graduate programs make a point of noting their interdisciplinary approach; prospective students should make a point of finding out what a school means by “interdisciplinary.”

Degree Information

A Master of Science (M.S.) in Computation and Applied Mathematics is the most common graduate degree. Students may also earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree, which as a non-terminal degree is often preparation for a Ph.D. program. Master’s and doctorate programs tend to require a good deal of testing--when students first enter the program, between semesters or years, and at the end of the course of study. Master’s degrees usually take two years and doctorate programs four to six years.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • Do they have faculty in a variety of research areas?
  • How accessible are the faculty?
  • Does the mathematics department work well with other academic departments?
  • Where have alumni gone on to work?
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