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BS in Mathematics [Online]

  1. Oct 28, 2008 #1


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    I am trying to earn a mathematics degree online because I am in the US military and living overseas. I found a regionally accreditated program that has what looks to be a pretty good major course load:

    MATH 151 Calculus I
    MATH 237 History and Foundations of Math
    MATH 252 Calculus II
    MATH 330 Differential Equations
    MATH 331 Probability and Statistics
    MATH 336 Calculus III
    MATH 337 Elementary Linear Algebra
    MATH 410 Mathematics Seminar
    MATH 429 Intro. to Modern Algebra
    MATH 434 Introductory Analysis
    Electives (at least 2 upper-level courses)

    If I was to go to this school and earn my degree (w/ great grades of course), would this program allow me to be accepted into a good graduate program (PhD) or no?

    Any help is greatly appreciated.
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  3. Oct 28, 2008 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    I'm afraid the answer is "no". There are essentially two kinds of math degrees - ones for people not going on to graduate school, and ones for people who are. This is the former type. That doesn't mean no school will accept you, but you're really nowhere near as prepared as people who had the other kind of curriculum.
  4. Oct 29, 2008 #3


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    That stinks...thanks for your honest opinion though. I'm beginning to think there is no hope for me to get a decent (or great) mathematics degree online these days. I'd really like to study math through grad school, but I'm slowly seeing that dream die.

    What kind of classes should be offered in a good program? Is there a specific amount of credits?

    Any further help would be greatly appreciated.
  5. Nov 1, 2008 #4
    That seems like a very light load. Are there other classes you can take in addition to those to supplement your education any?

    You could also try to get into a Master's program, and then from there try to get a PhD.
  6. Nov 1, 2008 #5
    Diff EQ is before Calc III?
    Does differential equations cover matrix algebra or is that covered in one of the algebra classes?

    I was in a somewhat similar situation as you are in when looking for online programs in math and physics. While I do feel that an online course can be as effective as an in-class lecture setting for a motivated student, there just doesn't seem to be the availability of good degree programs online.

    Looking at that program listing, some things that stand out to me are a lack of:
    Complex variations and analysis
    Proof writing
    Number theory
    Differential Geometry
    Topology, ring theory, etc (these may be offered and just not "required," I don't know)

    Are there any applied mathematics requirements? eg: physics?

    Do you know what route you plan to follow? Are you interested in pure maths? Or do you want to go into actuarial math, statistics, economics....(IE: money)?

    If you are interested, I really hope you don't give up the dream of grad school. I was in a similar boat as you for some time. I had long wanted to study physics and math at the graduate level, but my undergrad degree was in kinesiology and I was unable to return to school in anything but an online format.....

    If you really do love math, if it is what you "want" to do, if it is what you do when you have free time and "nothing else to do," don't give up.
    If you enjoy it, you will continue to enjoy it.

    There is no light at the end of the tunnel....when you finish grad school, you're not "done." You have the degree, but the only difference in your own math enjoyment is the high level studies allow you to play with a bigger deck of knowledge.

    I don't see why you can't focus on the basic courses online. If the online courses will transfer commensurately to "regular" university, begin your studies. It may be a while, but at some point you may be able to transfer your credits and finish up your major at an "off-line" university.
  7. Nov 1, 2008 #6
    Can I ask what university offers such a degree?

    Most online degrees are usually social sciences or the humanities, or non-laboratory science like CS. Mathematics, due to the nature of the difficult, could be very difficult to do online.

    But, if it is a regionally accredited university, it should be considered with the same authority as any other regionally accredited university. Many employers might not care or even know. Grad schools probably would. You might have a difficult time getting into a top school, but I do not see why you would have difficulty getting accepted to a less prestigious university's masters program, (like San Diego State, for instance), and then going on to a more prestigious university for your PhD, if that is what you want.

    Or, you could use your degree and your security clearance to get a job at the DOE or Lockheed Martin, or some other business/agency and forget about grad school for the time being.
  8. Nov 2, 2008 #7


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    That looks like the type of course load you'd expect for an Associate's Degree, not a B.S. In other words, it looks like community college level work. So, while it wouldn't be sufficient to get into grad school, if you do that coursework while you're overseas, without worrying about the actual degree, you might then be eligible to transfer some of those credits to complete a more rigorous degree program once you've returned state-side.

    By the way, just to verify, here is a list of the accrediting agencies approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
  9. Nov 2, 2008 #8


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    That curriculum described here looks like the equivalent of an associates degree from a community college. That might prepare one to then obtain a 4-yr degree from a major university. One could contact the mathematics department of the state university in one's state of residence and ask them. I would also recommend doing some in-depth research into the accrediting institution.
  10. Nov 2, 2008 #9
    If it is regionally accredited, then it means that the degrees the schools offer is accredited by the same regionally accrediting agency that accredits every other university and college in the area. So, if the school were on the west coast, being regionally accredited means that the school is meeting the same minimum standards for academics as Stanford, Berkeley, or USC. A lot of online universities are not regionally accredited, and only have certain national accreditation.
  11. Nov 2, 2008 #10

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    Moonbear and Astronuc, I don't think it's quite as bad as an Associate's degree. If you look at a typical small unknown college, that's pretty much the curriculum. These graduates go on to business or teaching; they don't usually go on to graduate school.
  12. Nov 2, 2008 #11


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    What you most commonly find at community colleges would be:
    Calculus 1,2,3, maybe Calculus 4; Differential Equations(what kind? certainly not higher than lower division), Linear Algebra(not upper division). There may be a couple of other kinds of courses also but usually lower division if present.
  13. Nov 2, 2008 #12


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    Thanks for the insight into that. Would the remainder of the advice still be appropriate, that those courses might qualify for transfer credit to a more rigorous school to complete a degree that WOULD be better preparation for grad school?
  14. Nov 2, 2008 #13

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    I would think so, but I wouldn't know for certain. I took a few classes at a "small unknown college" when I was in high school, and they did transfer into a more rigorous school, but these were not in my major. Personally, I think the classes I took were excellent - the problem was that there just weren't enough of them.
  15. Nov 2, 2008 #14


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    We're a small liberal-arts college and we have three types of math majors: the "regular" major for grad school or professional mathematics work; the "applied" major which is combined with a major or minor in some other area such as physics, business, computer science, psychology, etc.; and the "teaching" major which includes a lot of education courses and leads to certification for high-school teaching.

    The "regular" major is pretty similar in scope to the one Cod quoted:

    • Calculus (4 semesters at 3 credits per semester; most other schools have 3 semesters at 4 credits per semester)
    • Transition to Advanced Math (logic, proofs, set theory, etc.)
    • Complex Variables
    • Linear Algebra
    • Modern College Geometry
    • either Mathematical Statistics or Differential Equations
    • Abstract Algebra (2 semesters)
    • Intro to Analysis (2 semesters)
    • (Computer Science) Program Design I (the first semester of our Java programming sequence)

    We also require a senior "capstone" seminar, in which students choose areas to study and give presentations on.
  16. Nov 4, 2008 #15
    What school is this you're talking about Cod?

    Where do you people get your information???

    I have never seen Modern Algebra or Analysis offered at a community college for a 2 year degree...and I'm always wondering why is it on this forum board that if someone has gotten a C in one class or a degree doesn't require topology during it's freshman year of college then you are a failure and cannot attend grad school or the degree is worthless...I mean seriously....:|
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  17. Nov 8, 2008 #16


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    The school in question is Chadron State College (http://www.csc.edu/). It is a regionally accreditated (HLC as part of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) school located in Nebraska, USA.

    Thanks for all the advice everyone, but I think I may just have to wait until I move back to the states to earn my degree.
  18. Nov 8, 2008 #17
    Chadron... Danny Woodhead land! While said school may have been made briefly famous for their mathematics-major quarterback a few years back (when his team beat Montana State which had just defeated University of Colorado), it was widely known that he wanted to go on into math education at the HS level, not pursue future graduate studies. And note it's SMALL. This is why he was such a human-interest story. We followed him all season after the Montana State victory! :biggrin:

    I looked at their website: Note there are only 5 faculty, and one is really operating out of Information Science and Technology. I saw no features of current students or just graduated students, which makes me think even more that they have few students go on to pursue graduate studies.

    Waiting until you move back to the states is a good option. Top and even "just good" graduate schools in mathematics are probably (like the physics departments I'm familiar with) looking for research skills in addition to both a solid performance (in a good, probably "nationally accredited," undergraduate program) and good test scores. Research skills would be near-impossible to attain without an on-site education.

    It wouldn't be too early, however, to start considering your choices! I'm sure many on here could help!
  19. Nov 9, 2008 #18
    You can always take some classes online even if you do not do a complete online degree. You can do a lot of General Ed online, or you can do lower division Math, or both. Or you can look at it and decide to wait. Personally, I don't see how doing something now is going to be worse than doing nothing now. If the courses aren't challenging enough, there is always enrichment material from MIT OCW.
  20. Aug 15, 2009 #19
    Cod, have you tried Mercy College? http://www.mercy.edu" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  21. Aug 15, 2009 #20
    here's my suggestion...

    A) find a different online program. While this one isn't aweful but this definately does not look good either. If you are not aware of one, make a thread i'm sure folks here will hook you up with decent ones.

    B) Regardless of which online program you go through it won't prepare you for grad study. With online program you can do a Associate, BS w/e and that's it. What i think you should do is, take few online courses...and hopefully by that time you will move back...and you could enroll in university and complete your BS.

    What you could take online:

    1) Calc I
    2) Calc II
    3) Calc III
    4) Linear Algebra
    5) Differential Equations (if you are interested in applied mathematics)

    after that i think it's a risk to do online courses...there's so much more you can learn in a class.
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