Mathematics B.S.

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. A math degree also prepares you for many different types of graduate programs.

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 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 program, focusing on theoretical math, and a B.S. II program, concerned with mathematical applications.

As a math B.S. major you should investigate other opportunities available in the College of Arts and Sciences and beyond. The academic advisor and faculty can provide advice to you about combining math with another major or degree on campus.

The Department of Mathematics 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.

All math majors begin with the same sequence of required courses: three semesters of calculus and linear algebra. Taking these courses may help you determine which math degree is the best fit for you. After completing Calculus 1 and 2, 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, you consider the two different B.S. programs: theoretical or applied math.

Tracks and concentrations

Math B.S. students study in depth the complex relationships between ideas in mathematics. Two Math B.S. programs are available: Program I, focused on theoretical math, and Program II, focused on applied math and related areas.

  • Program I requires more upper level and theoretical coursework than other math major options. In particular, you learn the foundations of the two main areas of mathematics. In analysis, you study functions, as in calculus. In algebra, you study symmetries and structures. Program I is recommended if you are interested in Ph.D. programs in mathematics. It can also be great training for a variety of other career fields.
  • Program II requires more applied math courses, including differential equations, computer programming, and an outside concentration from an area such as economics or a science. This program provides preparation for graduate school in applied areas such as finance, economics, statistics, informatics, computer science, and others. The B.S. II also complements another degree.

While any math major can help you prepare for a career as an actuary, the B.S. II program is especially relevant to actuarial studies. If you are interested in a career as an actuary you should plan to select 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.S. major you are required to take certain upper level math courses, including two analysis courses. Math B.S. I majors must also take two 400 level algebra courses while Math B.S. II majors take additional differential equations and 400 level applied math courses.

We encourage you to work with the academic advisor to discuss how the Math B.S. coursework will help you achieve your goals and complement your other interests.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Math B.S. majors often pursue other degrees on campus or have an interest in additional minors or certificates. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest. The Economics B.A. degree is the most popular pairing.

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

Sometimes students majoring in other schools, such as the Kelley School of Business, Informatics, or the Jacobs School of Music, express interest in also pursuing a math major. The math 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.

Math B.S. majors interested in teaching high school math should consider our special five year program, which combines the B.S. in Math with an M.S. in Secondary Education and a teaching certificate. This accelerated program allows you to earn a master's degree in secondary education by adding just one more year to your degree program. If you are interested in this program, please talk with your academic advisor to make sure you qualify and to plan your curriculum. The application for this program is due during fall of senior year, but it requires course planning much earlier.

If you are interested in a career as an actuary, you should consider adding the Economics minor.

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.

You can get involved in research as early as your freshman year. Many incoming freshmen apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical sciences, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker.

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 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 Laboratory of Geometry (LoGoffers 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 graduate student and a faculty mentor. 

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 MATH-S 211 Honors Calculus 1 or S 212 Honors Calculus 2 during freshman year. You can also start math honors with S 311 Honors Calculus 3 or S 303 Honors Linear Algebra during your freshman or sophomore year.

Most math honors students pursue a B.S. I program. If you are interested in departmental honors with the B.S. II program, talk with the academic advisor.

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, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their 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.S. majors study a foreign language through at least the first 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 80 languages. Learn more about the foreign language requirement for a College of Arts and Sciences degree.

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

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. Math students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following types of programs:

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 and 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. 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, nonprofit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The B.S. degree in Mathematics provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferrable to many areas of study and work. As a Math B.S. major you will learn to:

  • Reason quantitatively, analytically, logically, and abstractly
  • Create 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 to not give up when confronted with a challenging problem
  • Create mathematical proofs—that is, explain precisely why a mathematical fact is true
  • Explain and apply the principles of analysis
  • Study and apply the principles of algebra and of additional areas of mathematics in the B.S. I degree
  • Study and apply mathematics to another field in the B.S. II degree

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 are some of the most commonly desired attributes 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 advisor and career coach 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 college.

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.

Maximize your career preparation with a career course. Math majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q 296 College to Career. The section dedicated to Natural and Mathematical Sciences provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your chosen field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go.

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.S. degree take their education in many different directions. Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: 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.

Graduates with a Math B.S. have become analysts, actuaries, professors, educators, managers, businesspersons, consultants, statisticians, and technical professionals.

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.

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

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or international 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 opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

Good 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

Many Math B.S. majors consider graduate school in math or a related area. You should start thinking about graduate study early. Making connections and building relationships with faculty and advisors is a key part of developing the skills you need for graduate study.

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you will 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.S. degree will help prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields. The Math B.S. Program I is particularly appropriate preparation for a pure math Ph.D. program geared towards research. Therefore, Math B.S. I students often consider applying to Math Ph.D. programs.

A Math B.S. Program II degree helps you prepare for applied mathematics graduate programs and more applied graduate fields, including: 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 IU:

Alumni connections

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

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.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly, and let others know where your path takes you.

 


Is it for you?

The Department of Mathematics attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Like to be challenged
  • Enjoy solving puzzles
  • Have strong analytical skills and want to develop them further
  • Have other interests and talents outside of math
  • Want to keep options open for a variety of career fields
  • Are open to the option of graduate school

Learn more

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

Department website
Advisor email address
elrsmith@indiana.edu