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Mathematics Major

Thinking about objects of complexity and beauty to solve the world's most critical problems

Mathematics Major

Thinking about objects of complexity and beauty to solve the world's most critical problems

What will you do as a mathematics major?

The mathematics major encompasses both theory and applications of mathematics. You will have the opportunity to study in a broad spectrum of fields ranging from areas in pure mathematics such as algebra, real analysis, topology, probability and geometry to applied mathematical areas such as mathematical software, computational models and methods, mathematical biology, statistics and actuarial mathematics. Many mathematics majors also major or minor in engineering or the physical, biological or social sciences. You can complete the standard degree path or choose one of four different options in applied and computational mathematics, mathematical biology, statistics and secondary teaching emphasis to gain specialization in your area of interest and achieve your career objectives.

The upper division requirements for the Mathematics BS degree were revised effective March 2015. Students who have declared a mathematics major during or after Spring 2015 will follow the new degree program as given in the Undergraduate Handbook. Students who entered the program before Spring 2015 can choose between the pre-2015 requirements and the new requirements. See your advisor if you wish to switch to the "new rules." The pre-2015 requirements are given in the Archived Undergraduate Handbook.

    Options in the mathematics major

    This degree option is designed for those interested in applied mathematics, modeling, and computation, preparing students for jobs in government or industry labs.

    In the Mathematical Biology option you will learn how to use mathematics to solve problems in the biological sciences. This specialization will equip you for jobs in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries as well as research institutes.

    If you are interested in preparing for a career teaching mathematics at the secondary level, you can add this transcript-visible option. This option is ideal for those students wishing to pursue either the double degree or master’s degree teaching licensure programs here at OSU, or to prepare for a licensure program at another institution.

    This degree option is designed to allow you to focus on the study of the mathematical theory underlying statistics while simultaneously developing expertise in statistical applications. It will prepare you very well for careers in data analysis, banking, financial engineering or environmental sciences as well as for graduate study in statistics.

    What can you do with a mathematics degree: Careers of our recent graduates

    • Senior Research Scientist at Adobe Research
    • Analyst at Deloitte
    • Tenured Math Professor, Clark College
    • Graduate students at Stanford, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, New York University
    • IT Consultant, Capital Group
    • Scientist at Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON)
    • Senior Software Engineers at NWEA; Nike; HP; Lithium Technologies
    • Technical Writer at Amazon Web Services
    • Kombuchologist at Lion Heart Kombucha
    • Senior Android Developer at Metal Toad
    • Field Service Engineer at Siemens Healthineers
    • Instructor at Portland State University

    Explore mathematics

    Sample courses

    • Introduction to Numerical Analysis
    • Complex Variables
    • Probability
    • Introduction to Differential Geometry
    • Computational Number Theory

    Meet our students and alumni

    Oregon native – and role model to young girls – carves her own path in mathematics

    Jennifer Smucker, mathematics senior, heads to Virginia Tech in the fall to pursue a Ph.D. in math. She hopes to be a role model for other women in STEM.

    Biochemistry, mathematics and molecular biology students win 2021 Goldwater awards for research excellence

    Two students from the College of Science have been awarded the competitive 2021 Goldwater awards.

    Math alumna’s disease modeling at national lab aiding public health initiatives to combat COVID-19

    The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has placed mathematical models in the spotlight as they have become central to public health interventions, planning, resource allocation and forecasts.

    Programmatic outcomes

    The following are the Mathematics Major, Mathematics Minor and Actuarial Science Minor Program Outcomes:

    • Demonstrate mathematical reasoning skills by reading, writing, and explaining formal definitions and theorems, and proofs.
    • Analyze mathematical problems by applying the theory and techniques from a variety of mathematical perspectives.
    • Use computational technology to support problem solving and mathematical understanding.
    • Use mathematical concepts and techniques to recognize, formulate and analyze questions from another discipline.
    • Communicate mathematics effectively.

    Next steps