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Math Does my choice of courses as a math major matter much?

  1. Jun 20, 2012 #1
    Hi. I am thinking about majoring in mathematics. I'm interested more in statistics and applied math. I only started prerequisites during my sophomore year so I don't have a lot of choices.

    I am not planning on going into research. I probably will get a master's degree in statistics or applied math. There are some criteria that I need to fill, such as two courses in algebra and two courses in analysis. There are courses that are more applied or computational than theoretical. Should I take courses that are more applied or would taking a more 'pure' course be suitable, as my mathematical knowledge can be used if I can find a way to apply them to whatever task I am given at my workplace? (for example, in an insurance or investment company)

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 20, 2012 #2


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    Science Advisor

    Hey stgermaine and welcome to the forums.

    For applied math/statistics, you will have to do some pure mathematics subjects and depending on the school/university/department the subjects can be semi-rigorous or really rigorous in terms of whether you have to prove things or use very high levels of abstractions. The other thing will be how much computation these courses focus on.

    For issues like this, you should see if different courses are offered to honors students or normal science/engineering students where the engineering/science offering focuses more on computational/applied contexts than proof/theoretical contexts.

    For insurance and risk management, the job title of people who usually do a lot of analytic work goes under actuarial analyst or actuary and there is a specialized qualification scheme for actuaries which you can look up on google.

    I would also recommend that you should take more applied courses for goals of getting into applied work and this includes computer science courses to get some basic programming skills developing. Also focus on subjects that offer projects and focus on report writing, and presentations in non-technical terms since this will be good preparation for the work-force.

    If you want to work at an investment company or an investment bank, then you should really find out what different kinds of expertise are required because there will be many different kinds.

    If you are going to program computers in an investment bank, you will need to have some experience on real projects under your belt and you can acquire some of the experience in masters and PhD projects. There are some people who can give you very specific advice based on their own experiences (they work in these kinds of roles).
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