Best Online Master’s Degrees in Math: 2016

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Careers & Salaries with a Graduate Degree in Mathematics

When a math teacher insists that math is used for everything in life, few students see the connections. However, there are some who feel empowered by its inarguable logic, and relish delving into complex equations that can be used to solve any number of scientific or engineering dilemmas. From mapping the human genome to influencing insurance policies to achieving major breakthroughs in computer science, individuals who understand the possibilities of mathematics – and how to apply them to real-world problems – have excellent career paths open to them. The best of those positions are waiting for graduates of an online master’s in mathematics program.

Timeline of an Online Master’s in Mathematics

Getting in: the Application Process

To ensure the best chances of getting accepted to a great graduate math program, students should pay close attention to admissions requirements and deadlines. In most cases, students entering a master’s program must already hold a bachelor’s degree, earn qualifying scores on the GRE, and present an impressive application packet. Here’s what most schools will require:

  • Transcripts.

    Students must have earned a bachelor’s degree and preferably taken certain math classes in preparation for the master’s degree such as linear algebra and calculus. They should also have a minimum grade in those classes as well as an overall minimum GPA. Transcripts will contain this information.

  • GRE score.

    The Graduate Record Examination is often required for entry into graduate school. Scores can be sent directly to the schools of choice, and the test can be taken more than once to achieve a better score if necessary. As expected, graduate math programs may place more emphasis on the quantitative reasoning section when reviewing an applicant’s GRE score.

  • Math subject GRE score.

    Most schools will require the GRE subject test in math, a specialized examination that is separate from the general GRE. These scores will be considered in conjunction with the general GRE test results.

  • Letters of recommendation.

    Three letters are typically required. These should come from people who can attest to the student’s aptitude for mathematics and graduate school study; former professors and work colleagues are excellent sources.

  • Prerequisite math courses.

    Many schools want to see higher-level math courses taken during the undergraduate years, as well as excellent grades to demonstrate mastery of knowledge gained. However, those who have not yet taken certain prerequisite math courses can usually do so during the first semester of the master’s program.

  • Personal essay.

    This essay is a chance for applicants to speak directly to the admissions board, explaining why they are ideal candidates for a program, why they chose math as an academic/career path, and other points of interest that can make their applications stand out.

Those chosen from the competitive field of applicants might be asked to engage in an interview with an admissions adviser or panel. This interview can be conducted via Skype, phone or other means for those who live too far to travel.

Year 1

The first year of the online master’s program in math is based on a core curriculum of courses that set a foundation for the concentration area of study. These courses typically cover topics such as number theory, abstract algebra, and real analysis. Students might also take courses in computer science, management, decision theory, statistics and biostatistics.

Year 2

During the second year, students delve into concentration courses that prepare them for their eventual degree paths. Students also devote significant time to finishing additional graduation requirements, including the capstone project or thesis. Students might also be expected to complete an internship in a job related to their math concentration.

In most cases, the online master’s in mathematics program can be completed within two years. However, working professionals might take classes part-time; in those cases, three years is a realistic timeframe.

Testing & Graduation Requirements

In addition to taking all the required courses for the master’s degree and maintaining a minimum GPA, students typically must also complete testing and other graduation requirements. These might include one or more of the following:

  • Master’s thesis

    This project begins with an original theory, and culminates in a thesis paper, as well as a possible presentation before an advisory board. The thesis is a manifestation of the knowledge and skills the student has acquired during the program.

  • Capstone project

    In lieu of a thesis, some schools may require a capstone project. This intensive research project demonstrates what a student has learned during the program. It might culminate with a presentation, paper, or other means by which it can be reviewed and graded.

  • Comprehensive exam

    Many schools require successful completion of a final exam that tests students on knowledge learned during the master’s program. This exam is often multiple-choice and focuses only on the major or concentration.

  • Internship

    Though internships are not as common in mathematics as they are in other master’s degree pursuits, some programs do require them. Internships are completed under the supervision and guidance of a professional in a math-related field.

Search Online Master’s Degrees in Math

Looking for a particular school that fits your personal criteria? This search tool allows you to filter online mathematics master’s program by a variety of factors – including school type, tuition costs, student population, degree level and location – to find the perfect fit.

Student Population:
School Type:
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During the course of the program, students will keep in close contact with a graduate adviser to ensure they stay on track with coursework, research and other requirements for graduation.

Career Path & Salary Potential a Master’s in Math Can Offer

The master’s degree program allows students to tailor their education for a particular career path. Following are the most popular concentrations in mathematics master’s programs, as well as the careers that those concentrations can lead to:

Concentrations
Probability and Statistics

This concentration has two tracks: applied and theoretical. Courses provide a strong foundation in mathematical statistics, survey analysis, computing technology, probability, methodology and research. This foundation is applicable in jobs that focus on analysis and statistical probabilities.

Career:
Research Analyst
Research Analyst

Creates meaningful analyses from the enormous amounts of numbers that come from all kinds of research, including surveys, biomedical testing, student testing, and more. These individuals work in education, government and the private sector, in industries ranging from healthcare to public policy.

Statistician
Statistician

These experts collect, analyze, interpret and report on a wide variety of information, then share their findings with those who can use it to make a difference. Statisticians work in fields spanning education, public policy and legislation, healthcare and more.

Economist
Economist

Conducts research and analysis to identify and predict economic trends, and offers forecasts to those who want to reallocate money and other assets. Requires the ability to understand economic issues as they are influenced by global changes.

Applied Mathematics

This flexible concentration allows students to choose electives that suit their particular career path. In general, applied mathematics offers courses on topics such as operational mechanics, probability, decision theory, statistics and computer science. Students who want to broaden their career options can augment this concentration with a variety of electives that offer a well-rounded education.

Career:
Mathematician
Mathematician

Working in either the private sector or in government positions, mathematicians focus on creating statistical models, analyzing data, and offering advice to those who make major business or political decisions.

Research Analyst
Research Analyst

Creates meaningful analyses from the enormous amounts of numbers that come from all kinds of research, including surveys, biomedical testing, student testing, and more. These individuals work in education, government and the private sector, in industries ranging from healthcare to public policy.

Data Miner
Data Miner

Technological advances, combined with an increasingly connected world, have led to the production of more raw data that must be processed into use information. Data miners need strong skills in statistics, analytics, and understanding patterns in data sets. They might work in virtually every sector, but healthcare is a particularly robust industry for this job.

Actuarial Mathematics

Actuarial studies can be broken down into three tracks: life insurance mathematics, non-life insurance mathematics and probability. Courses include those in finance, economics, accounting and statistics. Graduates will know how to properly assess risk in a wide variety of situations.

Career:
Actuary
Actuary

Often employed by life insurance companies, healthcare organizations, or firms with an interest in the stock market, actuaries are experts at analyzing research in order to determine risk.

Research Analyst
Research Analyst

Creates meaningful analyses from the enormous amounts of numbers that come from all kinds of research, including surveys, biomedical testing, student testing, and more. These individuals work in education, government and the private sector, in industries ranging from healthcare to public policy.

Economist
Economist

Conducts research and analysis to identify and predict economic trends, and offers forecasts to those who want to reallocate money and other assets. Requires the ability to understand economic issues as they are influenced by global changes.

Biomathematics.

Achievements such as mapping the human genome were made possible in part by those who studied this concentration, which exists at the intersection of mathematics and biology. Coursework covers both foundational mathematics and biological science, and research is a vital element of this particular path.

Career:
Pharmaceutical Consultant
Pharmaceutical Consultant

These experts help pharmaceutical companies develop, test and analyze a variety of drugs, as well as assess the usage of those drugs by various populations. They quantify information on such things as side effects and the rates of complications.

Biomathematician
Biomathematician

Focuses on data analysis and research in pharmacology, life sciences, biostatistics, biology and much more. May work with developing new drugs, pursuing cutting-edge treatments or determining the roots of disease.

Cryptographer
Cryptographer

These individuals work to encrypt or decipher information; develop systems that protect data; and ensure that transactions—especially those that take place on the Internet—are safe and secure.

Mathematical Computer Science

This concentration blends mathematics with computer science to create a degree that prepares students for various jobs in the technology world. Course topics might include theoretical computer science, logical mathematics, algebra, topology and research methods. Students can choose between two general tracks: computer science or research mathematics.

Career:
Computer Scientist
Computer Scientist

A strong grasp of math is essential for this job, which includes creating methodologies and tools that are applied to the development and use of computer systems, such as data acquisition and network systems.

Data Miner
Data Miner

Technological advances, combined with an increasingly connected world, have led to the production of more raw data that must be processed into use information. Data miners need strong skills in statistics, analytics, and understanding patterns in data sets. They might work in virtually every sector, but healthcare is a particularly robust industry for this job.

Potential Salary Increases with a Master’s Degree

Those who seek the master’s degree in mathematics often do so with an eye on the bottom line – they want to see an increase in pay, and possibly better job options and more employment security. It’s a sound decision, as the numbers bear out. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, mathematicians who chose to pursue the master’s degree earned 33 percent more than those who stuck with the bachelor’s degree. Those in applied mathematics enjoyed a 56 percent boost.

While there is a wide range of salary at either degree level, statistics from PayScale show that the advanced degree translates to more money on average. Those who earned the bachelor’s degree made between $38,892 and $99,268, while those with a master’s degree earned between $50,000 and $107,872.

Growth potential 23%
Average Salary $103,720

Additional Resources & Links

Students who are considering a graduate degree in mathematics, as well as those who are already enrolled in a program, can benefit from the following resources:

  • American Mathematical Society.

    This professional site offers numerous sections offering information about programs, publications, math samplings, and policy and advocacy efforts.

  • American Statistical Association.

    Offers a career center, rewards and recognition, publications, educational information and a members-only section.

  • International Mathematical Union.

    This site is a clearinghouse of information on a variety of issues important to those in math professions, including lists of organizations, publications, activities and member perks.

  • Mathematical Association of America.

    This site offers benefits for both members and the general public, including competitions, meetings and programs, and press information.

  • Society of Actuaries.

    This society offers professional development opportunities, research findings, education and exams, and other information about the profession.

Best Online Master’s in Mathematics Degrees

Students interested in earning a master’s degree in math will find a multitude of programs that might suit their needs. That can actually make the decision tougher, as students must narrow the choices to a short list of potential programs. A good place to start is by comparing programs using our comprehensive rankings of the Best Online Master’s in Mathematics Degrees for 2015-2016.

Want to know how we chose the cream of the crop? Check out our methodology.

RANK COLLEGE SCORE TEACHER/STUDENT RATIO COST GRADUATION RATE
1 Harvard University 100.00 8:1 98%
2 University of Idaho 99.75 17:1 58%
3 Columbia University in the City of New York 99.25 6:1 95%
4 University of Washington-Seattle Campus 98.50 18:1 84%
4 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 98.50 17:1 78%
6 Lesley University 98.25 10:1 58%
7 University of South Carolina-Columbia 98.00 18:1 73%
8 Iowa State University 97.75 19:1 69%
9 Texas A & M University-College Station 97.25 20:1 79%
9 Columbus State University 97.25 17:1 32%
9 Clarkson University 97.25 14:1 71%
12 Drexel University 97.00 10:1 67%
13 North Greenville University 96.50 14:1 50%
13 Emporia State University 96.50 18:1 39%
15 Northern Arizona University 96.00 18:1 52%
15 Montana State University 96.00 19:1 50%
17 University of Detroit Mercy 96.00 13:1 54%
18 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania 95.50 22:1 67%
18 Wilkes University 95.75 15:1 56%
19 Western Kentucky University 95.00 18:1 44%
19 The University of West Florida 95.00 23:1 51%
21 Marygrove College 94.50 9:1 18%
22 Chadron State College 94.25 21:1 36%
23 Nova Southeastern University 94.00 16:1 46%
23 New York Institute of Technology 94.25 14:1 45%
24 Nicholls State University 93.75 20:1 40%
25 University of Houston 93.50 22:1 48%
26 The University of Texas at Brownsville 93.25 24:1 28%
27 Western Governors University 91.50 41:1 17%