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BS-Mathematics Vs BS-Mathematical Sciences

  1. Nov 16, 2011 #1
    Right now I'm a freshman in college and I have to declare my major soon.

    My college has these two majors that interest me the most. I don't really want to do something like BS-Financial Mathematics as I don't like the course content that much. From looking at the catalog, Mathematics has more pure Math classes like abstract algebra.
    Mathematical Science has more applied Math courses instead of pure Math courses like abstract algebra.

    The only differences is that in junior or senior year, I will have to take at least 2 quarters of abstract algebra and an option of taking a class called "Intro to Topology" (No idea what this is) for the Math major. But for Math Sciences, I would have to take at least 2 quarters of numerical analysis and have an option of taking a class called "Ordinary Differential Equations".

    Abstract Algebra vs Numerical Analysis
    Topology vs Ordinary Differential Equations

    Here is what the school says:

    Bachelor of Science—Mathematics
    The bachelor of science degree is especially suitable for students who want a rigorous program with an emphasis on theory or who plan to go on to graduate work in mathematics.

    Bachelor of Science—Mathematical Sciences
    This is an applied mathematics degree intended for students interested in computational aspects of mathematics, systems analysis, decision sciences, physical sciences, and operations research. It is suitable as preparation for advanced training in applied mathematics, management science, business administration, or operations research.

    I was just wondering what are the "differences" of things that I will learn in these two majors? I have looked at the classes that I need to take and they look really similar apart from the stuff that I've pointed out. Also, What their job prospects? Would employers look down on a BS in Mathematical Sciences because they are not familiar with it's name? Therefore, I gain absolutely no respect for having studied Math.

    Thanks you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2011 #2


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    Ultimately you will have to decide for yourself what you find more interesting.

    Pure math degree will be more oriented toward teaching. The other seems to be headed toward those fields.

    Also if you have the capability of getting a Ph. D. degree, you might lean toward pure math.
  4. Nov 17, 2011 #3


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    i feel you would be better served by the abstract algebra and topology, even if you go on to further studies in another field. topology is gaining ground in a lot of disparate areas.

    but...if you plan on a career in information technology then...no, heck with it, take the algebra anyway. haskell seems to be the big thing these days, and algebra will actually help with that.

    you might want to squeeze in the diffy q course, anyhow. 'tis useful stuff.

    my reasoning goes like this: if you learn more theory, applying that theory later in some applicaton, will be easier on you in the long run, than learning a lot of applications, but not recognizing how to transfer that information to areas you haven't encountered before.

    you'll still be able to switch majors in your junior year, if you really find it isn't for you.

    i don't mean to slight applied mathematics, because some of it is really interesting. i just feel that learning to think rigorously earlier is more helpful, in the long haul. in other words, it's not the course content per se, it's the types of thinking you'll be exposed to. you'll be a better thinker and problem-solver. you'll be in a better position to teach yourself things you might be interested in later, and if you go on to graduate school, you'll be in better shape.

    of course, i'm obviously biased, so take my words with a grain of salt.
  5. Nov 19, 2011 #4
    Interesting, I've talked to some advisers and other students at my college but I've gotten mixed suggestions. I have a feeling that pure math might be tougher than applied in terms of difficulty.
  6. Nov 21, 2011 #5


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    it probably will be, i won't sugar-coat it. but it will give you more flexibility later. it's easier for a mathematician to become a chemist, or a lawyer, than the other way around. the way i see it: aim high, if you find it's too big a hurdle, you can always aim lower later.

    as i said earlier, you'll pretty much know by the time you're a junior if you're on the right track or not, and you will still be able to switch to an applied math major at that time. you'll need to get past the lower-division calculus gauntlet in any case (and most other science-oriented degrees will require that as well).

    as a side note: you asked what intro to topology is. topology is the study of what is called in popular literature "rubber-sheet geometry", although it sounds a bit more dignified if you describe it as "spatial relationships". notions such as "connectedness", "distance", and "bounded" are essentially topological ones, in topology you study how to tell different sets apart by their features, rather than by doing numerical calculations. it's another way to help classify things.

    in any case, no matter what you do, or what you major in, you simply must take linear algebra. i'd advise you to take it twice, in fact, but you'd think i was crazy. i'm not.
  7. Nov 23, 2011 #6
    I have noticed too that they have to take some lower-division math for science degrees except for biology. After those lower-division courses, some people actually think that math is harder than science. Much depends on the person, I think. I don't know why most people can dislike math so much and complain about it all the time. But I mean, just the other day I was talking to this girl, and when she asked me what's my major. I told her it was math, she was like "oh, so you study all day?" and looked at me in a very odd way. I could see the looks on her face, she thought I was a nerd. The conversation kind of ended there. I didn't think that such an exciting major such as math can repulse girls so much. This happens quite a bit even when I'm talking to other guys that don't know me.

    I think I'm doing pretty good in my lower-division calculus course this quarter so far. I think I will have to take linear algebra as part of my lower division courses. So are you saying that I should take the course twice, to refresh my memory in the future?

    I am pretty keen on getting a math major, it just depends on which type. So, I will probably know by the end of my first year. BTW, are you a grad-student?
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
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