Mathematics and Statistics

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Math is one of the oldest areas of study dating back thousands of years, and for obvious reasons everyone is exposed to the basic mathematical concepts from early on. The advanced study of mathematics and statistics is, however, something quite different than the fundamentals of calculus we learned in high school and undergrad. Though few people know what mathematicians and statisticians do for a living, there are a number of fields of study and careers that depend on people who know how to develop sophisticated equations and statistical models to advance their work. Mathematicians use mathematical theory, computational techniques, algorithms, and the latest computer technology to solve economic, scientific, engineering, physics, and business problems. There are really two classifications of mathematics that include theoretical (pure) mathematics and applied mathematics. 

Though the theoretical study of math often doesn’t focus on the practical side of the use of math, abstract knowledge has been influential in producing and furthering many scientific and engineering accomplishments. Similarly, since math holds the foundation of so many other academic disciplines, there are people who use math principles in their everyday jobs without the title of mathematician. Likewise, those who work in fields that require the use of statistical analysis are not likely to be classified as statisticians.

You can expect the coursework in this field to be quite demanding, though it’s often the case that those who pursue these areas of study thrive in this kind of challenging environment. The majority of those with a master’s degree in mathematics and statistics who work in private sector do so not as mathematicians but in related areas like computer science, programming, systems analysis, or engineering.


In the International Context

Obtaining a degree in the field of math or statistics could open the door to a number of possibilities to work on international issues both abroad and domestically. A degree in this field would give you the skills necessary to enhance economic or technology systems in developing countries, work with a consulting firm or international organizations to analyze the potential of financial economies, and help implement technology improvement plans in a variety of contexts especially through statistical analysis.

Skills you’ve gained from study abroad will be useful in this field, regardless of whether you decide to work at home or abroad. This knowledge includes:

  • Communication skills. In this field you often need to explain technical matters to persons without statistical expertise and good communication skills are key. 
  • Cultural sensitivity. Knowing the values and lifestyle of the local culture can help you design structures and improve infrastructure that are best suited for the community where you work. 
  • Ability to work independently. This career often requires a high level of independent work, something that is also attributed to living abroad. 



Students pursuing a Masters degree in Mathematics may choose one of the following areas: general mathematics, analysis, applied mathematics, combinatorics, statistics, probability, and computational mathematics. This degree is designed for students who wish to extend their knowledge of mathematics or prepare for certain careers related to mathematics. Courses usually required for this degree include calculus, differential equations, and linear and abstract algebra.

For more information about a career in mathematics check out the Princeton Review and the US Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor and Statistics.


Job Opportunities In the Field

Many theoretical mathematicians are employed as university faculty, dividing their time between teaching and conducting research. You can expect to be working on interdisciplinary teams that could include economists, engineers, computer scientists, physicists, technicians, and others.


Applied Mathematics

Applied Mathematics is the application of mathematical techniques to solve practical problems in the physical and biological sciences and engineering. Applied mathematicians develop and analyze mathematical models of physical and biological phenomena and engineering systems, interpret solutions to mathematical problems and uses the results to identify relationships, patterns, and the effects of altering one or more variables or modeling assumptions. Many of the courses in these kinds of programs illustrate how mathematics can be used to predict the behavior of physical, biological, and engineering systems. Most master and PhD granting programs require a final thesis or project to successfully complete the program.


Job Opportunities In the Field

According to the US Department of Labor, “the U.S. Department of Defense is the primary Federal employer, accounting for about 37 percent of the mathematicians employed by the Federal Government.” Some of the career opportunities in the private sector include scientific research and development services and management, scientific, and technical consulting services, software publishing, and aerospace or pharmaceutical manufacturing.



Statistics is the science of collection, organization, analysis, and explanation of data. The field offers many opportunities for people who enjoy interpreting the world in quantitative ways using numbers, surveys, and technology. In this field, methods are developed and used to explain quantitative patterns observed in the social, physical, and natural sciences and in business and industry. An advanced degree in this field will likely result in a master’s of science in statistics after you have completed the program and a final thesis or research project. A master’s degree in statistics or mathematics is the minimum educational requirement, but research and academic jobs generally require a Ph.D.


Job Opportunities In the Field

According to the Department of Labor, “20 percent of these jobs were in the Federal Government, where statisticians were concentrated in the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services. Another 10 percent were found in State and local governments, including State colleges and universities. Most of the remaining jobs were in private industry, especially in scientific research and development services, insurance carriers, and pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing.”


Applied Statistics

Masters programs in applied statistics attempt to prepare students for a range of professional activities as practicing statisticians in both academia and industry. A statistician develops and analyzes models of data-driven situations the outcome is unknown, identifies statistical relationships between variables, forecasts probable future outcomes, and draws inferences about factors that impact the trend your testing. These programs are designed to provide students with the comprehensive expertise and skills needed for the planning, execution, and analysis of statistical studies. These statistical studies are increasingly used as advisory instruments for policy decisions in nearly every sector of the economy.


Job Opportunities In the Field

An advanced degree in statistics provides you with opportunities in a variety of fields. Many jobs involve the analysis and interpretation of data from economics, biological science, psychology, computer software engineering, education, and other disciplines.


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