Mathematics B.A.

Students who major in Mathematics—the Queen of the Sciences—like patterns, puzzles, and challenges, and are curious about why things are true. Businesses, industries, and government agencies actively seek math majors for their strong analytical and abstract reasoning skills.

The Department of Mathematics is part of the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences. In your coursework in the math department, you will meet world-class faculty who are recognized both for their contributions to the field and as award-winning teachers.

The Department of Mathematics offers four different types of undergraduate degrees:

  • The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) offers you broad flexibility to combine your interest in math with almost any other major, minor or certificate
  • An interdepartmental major in mathematics and economics allows B.A. students to pursue one major that combines coursework from both disciplines
  • The Mathematics B.S. gives a much deeper look at the subject. Within it, there are two different options: a B.S. I, focusing on theoretical math, and a B.S. II, concerned with mathematical applications

Many math majors combine math with another major or degree. Math B.A. majors in particular are encouraged to seek out other majors, minors and certificates available in the College of Arts and Sciences and elsewhere on campus. The academic advisor and faculty can provide advice to you about combining math with another major or degree.

The Mathematics department also offers a convenient and flexible math minor designed to supplement any other major on campus.

Coursework

Getting started

Math majors take a variety of courses from different areas of math. In fact, you may not yet be aware of the diversity that exists in the IUB math curriculum.

As a Math B.A. major, you start by taking Math-M211 Calculus 1 and M212 Calculus 2. After completing two semesters of calculus, the next steps are usually these two required courses:

  • Multivariable calculus – where calculus meets geometry in two and three dimensions
  • Linear algebra – lines, planes, vectors, matrices, and useful organizing principles

After that your options really open up, including courses such as:

  • Differential equations – these govern laws of nature and give models for financial products such as options
  • Probability and statistics – risk and uncertainty are everywhere: learn how to measure and analyze it

Tracks and concentrations

Math is amazingly broad, so Math B.A. majors are required to select major courses from at least two different areas of math. You should carefully consider the different types of courses available and how different areas of math may complement your other interests and goals.

By taking courses in two or more of the following areas you gain analytical and problem-solving skills that are both useful and marketable.

  • Algebra
  • Analysis
  • Applied math
  • Computer science and programming
  • Differential equations
  • Geometry and topology
  • Logic
  • Probability and statistics

If you are interested in a career as an actuary you should plan to select one or two courses from the probability and statistics area. Particular courses from economics, computer programming and business will help you prepare for this popular and rewarding career field.

Upper level coursework

As a Math B.A. major, you have many options when choosing your upper level math courses. After three semesters of calculus and linear algebra, you have the freedom to choose at least five additional courses at the 300 and 400 level.

This flexibility allows you to easily add additional majors, minors or certificates. We encourage you to work with the academic advisor to design your own Math B.A. major curriculum based on your interests and goals.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Math B.A. majors frequently have double or triple majors as well as other minors or certificates. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest. The Economics double major is the most popular pairing. 

You should investigate majors and minors that will provide you with important skills to complement your math major. Here are just a few ideas pursued by math majors at IUB:

Sometimes students majoring in other schools at Indiana University, such as the Kelley School of Business, the School of Informatics and Computing, or the Jacobs School of Music, express an interest in also pursuing a math major. The academic advisor will work with you to find out if it is possible for you to combine your first degree with a concurrent second degree in math.

If you are interested in a career as an actuary, then you should consider adding the major or minor offered by the Economics department.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in Mathematics, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

Math majors are encouraged to apply for a Department of Mathematics Undergraduate Internship (UGI). This opportunity provides a small stipend and gives you applicable work experience grading papers, assisting faculty, and tutoring your peers.

The Laboratory of Geometry (LoG) offers students a chance to study a geometric concept deeply enough so that they could get a computer to produce meaningful pictures which would suggest further insights and conjectures. Students work in groups with other undergraduate students and with the help of a grad student and a faculty mentor. 

The Indiana University Math Directed Reading Program (DRP) offers enthusiastic, highly-motivated undergraduate math majors the opportunity to learn advanced math topics in a structured, research-like environment. Participants spend a semester on an independent math project under the supervision of a graduate student mentor. Projects often take one of the following forms:

  • An introduction to a subject not covered by the departmental coursework.
  • An in-depth reading of a particular theorem or set of theorems.
  • A more advanced treatment of a standard subject.

The National Science Foundation funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU Sites program. The Math department offers a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, providing undergraduates the opportunity to gain research experience over the summer. Talk with the academic advisor to learn more.

You can find other summer and semester long research opportunities through the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, and Pathways to Science.

Honors

The Department of Mathematics offers a departmental honors program for students interested in taking more challenging honors coursework in math. Most students enter this program with either S211 Honors Calculus 1 or S212 Honors Calculus 2 during freshman year. You can also start math honors with S311 Honors Calculus 3 or S303 Honors Linear Algebra during your freshman or sophomore year.

Although most math honors students pursue a Math B.S. Program I major, you should talk with the academic advisor if you are interested in a Math B.A. with honors—with early planning, it is possible.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Math majors are eligible for these scholarships and awards:

Other financial aid resources include:

Internships

Professional internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities as early as freshman year.

Past math majors have had internships and career opportunities in many different fields:

The American Mathematical Society keeps a list of companies that look for math majors as interns. Many internship deadlines are in the fall semester.

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for both domestic and international internships. You will also find internship opportunities posted on the math department blog.

Foreign language study

Among the goals of a liberal arts education at IU Bloomington are the study of the international community and the development of basic communication skills in a foreign language. Math B.A. majors study a foreign language through at least the second semester of the second year.

Math graduates working in business and industry usually work in complex teams, often with people from various nations and cultures. Foreign language study provides insight into other cultures and other patterns of thought and expression. Proficiency in a foreign language can enhance your career opportunities, particularly with certain types of employers:

  • The U.S. Government (a significant employer of math majors)
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Multinational corporations

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages

Below is a sampling of foreign language study resources available to students at IUB:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly interconnected world. As a math major, you are eligible to apply for many study abroad programs. 

Math majors often look for mainstreamed programs that involve taking regular classes with the host nation's students. These mainstreamed programs allow you to take courses in your major as well as fulfill general education requirements. The following  types of programs are very popular among Math B.A. majors:

As a math major, you may also be interested in overseas internship opportunities. Overseas internship placements will likely be in English-speaking locations, since math majors may be placed in labs or in more technical settings. If you are interested in an internship in a non-English speaking location, you need to have substantial knowledge of and proficiency in the host language.

The College of Arts + Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with MATH faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

The Department of Mathematics sponsors a Math Club. This student-led group meets each Wednesday evening to discuss and learn about mathematics. The math club hosts speakers, plays mathematical games, and plans other related activities such as competing in the annual Putnam Competition and Indiana College Math Competition (ICMC).

The department also sponsors a student-led Actuary Club for students interested in the actuarial profession. In this club you can form study groups, review skills essential to this profession, and hear professional actuaries speak about their careers.

Math majors of any gender may join our student chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics, a group established by a math major. The student chapter's purpose is to encourage women who are studying mathematics to continue their studies, and to inform all students, male and female, about the lives and contributions of women mathematicians.

The annual Math Contest in Modeling (MCM) takes place the first weekend each February. A 1-credit course, Participating in this contest helps students build modeling, writing, and teamwork skills.

The Women in STEM Living-Learning Center at IUB is home to a group of undergraduate women of all levels who are driven to achieve in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM.

For a complete list of Living Learning Centers and Thematic Communities, visit the Residential Programs and Services website.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

As a math major, you are encouraged to seek out volunteer opportunities. Consistent volunteering allows you to develop leadership and organizational skills highly valued by employers.

On campus, math students volunteer for various departmental and campus events, like the IU Science Fest and our Math Circle. Student Math Circle volunteers can receive IU credit.

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Joining professional organizations is a great way to connect and network with professionals working in math related fields. Their websites also contain resources for research concerning math related activities and careers.

The Indiana section of the Mathematical Association of America (INMAA) hosts a conference each fall and spring to which students are invited.

Use the Indiana University Library system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, and nonprofit organizations.

Build your skills

Through the major

The major in MATH provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Reason quantitatively, analytically, logically, and abstractly
  • Create and use mathematical models and use them to analyze and to explain data
  • Use math and information technology to solve new problems
  • Communicate with precision, organization, and attention to the type of audience
  • Learn not to give up when confronted with a challenging problem
  • Create mathematical proofs--that is, explain precisely why a mathematical fact is true

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic and career advisors about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

 

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

 Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

You might want to take a career course to help maximize your time at IU. Math majors should consider taking ASCS-Q 296 College to Career II. This course provides the opportunity for math students to explore the relationship between their chosen field of study and life after graduation while developing a career and academic development plan for post-collegiate success.

The job market

The employment outlook is very positive for students with a degree in math. There are a broad variety of employment opportunities that regularly use the mathematical skills you develop in the major. Students with a degree in math are often highly sought after and employment rates are very high.

Students with a Math B.A. degree take their education in many different directions. They are well prepared for work in data science, finance and banking, information technology, education, operations research, and government. Keep in mind that these careers rarely have the word 'math' in the title.

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors. Graduates with a Math B.A. have become analysts, actuaries, professors, educators, managers, businesspersons, consultants, statisticians, and technical professionals.

Talk with the mathematics faculty, the academic advisor, and other students to gain valuable insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Department of Mathematics.

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

 Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

Good examples of resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Teaching fellowships give you a chance to hone your math and communication skills. Find teaching fellowships through organizations such as:

These specialized math summer school programs are for advanced upper year undergraduates and graduate students entering math programs. They are fun and they cover useful and advanced topics.

Graduate and professional study

If you are interested in graduate school, start thinking about your options early. To develop the skills you need for graduate study, it's important to make connections and build relationships with faculty and advisors.

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A Math B.A. major will help prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as statistics, biostatistics, financial math or financial engineering, operations research, accounting, education, actuarial science, economics, data science, information technology and computer science.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other professional programs.

Math majors are encouraged to seek out graduate school opportunities across the country and around the world. Here are examples of math related graduate programs offered at IUB:

Alumni connections

Talk with MATH faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree.

Linkedin helps you identify, locate, and connect with other IU alumni, using the Universities search tool. At graduation, you can request to join the IUB Mathematics Linkedin alumni group.

 

The IU College of Arts + Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

 Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts +Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Department of Mathematics attracts students from a wide variety of backgrounds with different career and long term goals. The typical Math B.A. major:

  • Likes to be challenged
  • Enjoys solving puzzles
  • Has other interests and talents outside of math
  • Desires flexibility and choice in major requirements
  • Has strong analytical skills and wants to develop them further
  • Wants to keep options open for a variety of career fields

Learn more

Contact the Math academic advisors and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the major requirements can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
mathadv@iu.edu