Online Degree Programs in Math

In an age where innovation is king, mathematicians are put to use in the real world to solve a number of problems in different fields. For instance, people use math and statistics to help airlines maximize profits by predicting how many vacancies are likely to be on an airplane on a given flight. This lets the airline purposefully overbook, but not to the point where there are no seats left for those who paid for them.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of math occupations require at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Hence, it is no surprise that many interested in a mathematical career seek online degree programs in math. Though math degrees are available at any level from many schools with online degree programs, bachelor’s and master’s degrees are the most commonly sought given industry education requirements.

The Online Math Degree Program Experience

Online degree programs in various mathematical disciplines provide busy adults with the opportunity to gain an education, a higher paying job, and a higher ranking professional position. Typically, they entail an online portal in which students can access all of their courses’ materials, assignments, peers, and instructors. Courses can be synchronous, meaning students and instructors have pre-scheduled times to meet online, or asynchronous, meaning students independently watch online lectures and study at their leisure.

Two of the most common mathematics majors are applied mathematics and statistics. Statistics majors study core mathematics like calculus, but they also take courses in technical writing, theories of probability, sample survey theory, computer science, and statistical methods. Applied mathematics, on the other hand, teaches students to use math to solve problems in other disciplines, including science, technology, economics, business, and medicine. Applied mathematics majors take courses in physics, calculus, differential equations, computer theory and science, linear algebra, algorithms, systems design, and theoretical statistics. This major is popular because numbers junkies find these options to be the perfect mix of pure math and its application.

All levels of mathematics education require students to demonstrate their understanding of multifaceted math concepts through assignments and projects. Students in advanced postsecondary programs, however, will be required to complete more complex and time-consuming assignments and projects. For example, online masters degree programs often require their students to complete a capstone project, or a thesis that analyzes and attempts to solve a common issue within the mathematics field.

Online vs. Campus for Math Degree Programs

When considering online degree programs, students should take into account whether a given program is accredited and how well it is ranked. Accredited online degree programs meet quality standards set forth by accreditation agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Ranked institutions, on the other hand, are recognized for their programs or their institution overall; for instance, U.S. News and World Review ranks schools according to six different program categories, as well as other categories like "students engagement and assessment" and "student services and technology."

Students should also consider the pros and cons of both an online and a traditional education; the pros of an online education can be the cons of a traditional one, and vice versa. Math, especially at the postsecondary level, is a complex discipline, and issues with understanding concepts are a common occurrence for students. One pro of a traditional education is that students have access to instructors who can help them work through problems they encounter. Another pro of traditional education is that students collaborate on assignments and when studying for tests; math is a very independent discipline, but learning its various concepts is sometimes easier in group settings.

Meanwhile, one advantage of an online education is that given that math is such an independent discipline, students effectively are forced to tackle problems independently; this will help them in their math field careers. Another pro is that math requires students to have self-discipline, something also required by an online math degree; students not only have to read and understand mathematical concepts and equations, but must immediately apply them in assignments, quizzes, and tests. This, again, is a good quality for someone going into a math field to possess.

Programs within Math