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Undergrad who loves math but doesn't want to research

  1. Apr 15, 2008 #1
    I'm a third year student on track to get a BS in Mathematics and a BA in Economics.

    The economics was basically to make myself marketable and to prevent the college from making me graduate early. I'm really not interested in it. That's besides the point.

    I love almost all fields of math. Combinatorics, geometry, analysis, algebra, numerical methods. I find it all very fascinating and love learning about it all. However, I'm not interested in doing research.

    I'm looking for a career in applied math. I'd like to use what I've learned to solve problems. I'm more interested in discrete mathematics (algorithms, graphs, etc), and would love to apply all of this into an industry. I can program a computer, but I don't have any real experience with anything. I never did any relevant internships during the summer.

    What options do I have? Am I screwed? Going down an actuarial track is my backup, but that sounds god awful. I'm not interested in finance or economics, but they are all backups.

    Any interesting options for a guy who loves math, wants to use it, but doesn't want to stay in Academia or go into finance?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2008 #2


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    You can likely become a tutor (or a teacher...) with at least a bachelor degree in Mathematics; meanwhile, you might offer your programming skills for pay or small profit.
  4. Apr 15, 2008 #3
    Why don't you want to do research?
  5. Apr 15, 2008 #4
    I don't think I'd be very good at it. Besides, I like the idea of applying higher math to solve real world problems. I think it may mean getting a Masters degree in Applied Math.
  6. Apr 16, 2008 #5
    Have you considered a computer science grad program? CS offers tons of interesting, hands-on, applied discrete math type problems.
  7. Apr 19, 2008 #6
    Stats may be another field you might want to look into for Grad school. Lots of job opportunities with an MS and the work is often pretty cool. My brother is a statistician for the AMA and does lots of financial modeling for them. He even presents monthly report to the execs recommending how to improve the performance of the organization (who to fire, which departments to reorganize, how much to charge, etc.)
  8. Apr 19, 2008 #7


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    "research" is just another word for finding and solving problems.

    except sometimes you have to modify the known methods to get them to apply to your problem. thats research. but you'll be doing that in any successful project at solving problems. I.e. if the known methods already apply perfectly to solve your problem then the problem is already solved.

    So to me, there is no such thing as going out and looking at problems for which methods already exist and just applying them. Thats just computing, a machine can do that.

    i guess occasionally there are situations where people have problems that can be solved by known method but the methods are not known to them, and they need someone who does know the methods.

    those are usually interdisciplinary situations, where someone in one area has a problem that yields to methods known well in another area he is not trained in. so he brings in a specialist.

    anyway, im sure youll be fine at it if you like solving problems.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2008
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