1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What else can I do with a BS in Mathematics?

  1. Jul 4, 2012 #1
    Hey everyone,

    I'm starting college as a math major, partly because I'm not sure what I want to do yet and it seems like a very versatile degree. So here's my question: can mathematics majors pursue graduate studies (PhD.) in the natural sciences and engineering and go on to work in those fields professionally? Which fields specifically could you go into (e.g. biology, engineering, etc.)?

    The Zapper
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 4, 2012 #2
    I have a teacher in Mech. Eng. who has a BS and MS in Math but a PhD in Mech. Eng--one of the best teachers I've ever had too.
  4. Jul 4, 2012 #3
    My current teacher has a PhD in applied math and he said that when you have a PhD in math you get considered for the same jobs as the engineer/physics majors, but what you do with it is up to you. People only hire people that are qualified and would like to work with.
  5. Jul 4, 2012 #4
    Yes, you can. Electrical engineering, computer science, physics, mechanical engineering, finance... etc.
  6. Jul 4, 2012 #5
    I don't know where he gets that from, but Math PhD's are rarely ever considered for engineering jobs. Even physics PhD's have a difficult time finding engineering jobs, as most employers want graduates with engineering degrees. Math PhD's are simply not qualified to do a majority of engineering work out there. Some do take on consulting roles in research engineering firms, but the main work is done by engineers.

    As to the OP, I have done my own research on the matter (math major here) and have found that a pure math major is not enough to pursue graduate studies in the natural sciences or engineering. Perhaps theoretical physics, if anything other than pure math. For physics, you at least need to take the big 3 (classical mechanics, E&M, QM) to be considered by most graduate schools. As for engineering, I can't imagine anyone getting accepted without plenty of electives in core engineering classes and doing well in them. A physics major may get by knowing all the theory, but as a pure math major, all you will know that is relevant are PDE's without any basic knowledge of advanced topics in engineering that are briefly introduced in any undergraduate engineering degree.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  7. Jul 4, 2012 #6
    I am actually in the same boat as the OP. I'm a pure math major, mainly because my school does not have any engineering tracks, but I want to do graduate study in nuclear engineering and changing schools is not an option as I am already a senior. I communicated with an advisor at GaTech for nuclear engineering and he said that as long as I took the "big three" physics classes, freshman chemistry, and the required maths I should be ok.

    Im going to go ahead and take some summer engineering prereqs at tech though to get me primed.

    So anyways yes I think it is certainly possible to enter graduate school in some other field after majoring in math as an undergrad. You just need to take the prerequisite courses for your intended field and do well in them.
  8. Jul 5, 2012 #7
    Thanks for the very informative responses. I think I'll take your advice and check on the required prerequisites so I can take them before I graduate.

    The Zapper
  9. Jul 5, 2012 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Hey ZappBrannigan and welcome to the forums.

    This link might help:

    http://www.ams.org/profession/career-info/early-careers/early-careers [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  10. Jul 5, 2012 #9
    Thanks for the link chiro. That's exactly what I wanted to know about careers.

    - Big Z
  11. Jul 6, 2012 #10


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    What you state above may be true for a pure math major who intends to pursue a PhD in pure math, but what you fail to note is that a pure math major, with some additional course work, can easily qualify for a graduate program in applied math. From my own investigation, most applied math PhD programs in the US give the students opportunities to explore coursework and/or research in many areas of the sciences or engineering (it may even be a requirement in some PhD programs), and this background should give these students an edge in applying for engineering or other technical jobs.
  12. Jul 6, 2012 #11
    You can do physics or engineering in the PhD program but I suggest to get some math courses and you could actually get a PhD in Math itself..
  13. Jul 9, 2012 #12
    This may not be specifically what you're asking, but people who graduate with a BA/BS in math sometimes end up in computer science jobs. Like, I know a girl who double majored in math and chem (and was really awesome at both, incidentally), and she's working now for a software company. I think the idea is that if you're a hard science or math major, you're a logical thinker and good at problem solving. Since there are so many programming languages out there, some companies will just hire whoever they think they can train and teach you the language they want you to use.

    I've also heard math majors tend to do well in business, again, because of the problem solving skills.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook