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Why Study Mathematics?

Number rules the universe. --Pythagoras

Mathematics, as a study of patterns, both practical and abstract, involves analytical thought, logical reasoning, problem solving skills, and precise communication. Because of its power and versatility, mathematics has often been called the "Queen of the Sciences." There is no field of scientific inquiry that does not express itself through the language of mathematics.

An undergraduate degree in mathematics provides an excellent foundation for students who are interested in pursuing an advanced degree in mathematics or in a related specialized profession. Mathematics can also provide an excellent foundation for students considering professional degrees in such allied fields such as Law, Business Administration, or Medicine.

The kinds of analytical and logical thinking skills that one develops while studying mathematics are precisely the skills that recruiters look for in potential employees. Jobs involving significant mathematical background also consistently rank near the top of the list in annual career surveys. In's 2016 rankings of the 200 best jobs, some of the top-ranked jobs were:

1. Data Scientist
2. Statistician
6. Mathematician
10. Actuary

Other highly-ranked jobs that benefit from a mathematical background included Software Engineer (#7), Computer Systems Analyst (#8), Biomedical Engineer (#14), Meteorologist (#16), Petroleum Engineer (#20), Physicist (#21), Economist (#24), Financial Analyst (#27), Accountant (#33), Environmental Engineer (#37), Civil Engineer (#38), Mechanical Engineer (#58), and Aerospace Engineer (#59).

A more recent study by Bankrate concluded that among 162 college majors, Actuarial Science provided the most value, due to a combination of high future incomes, low unemployment, and low need for advanced degrees. Applied Mathematics was ranked #5, while Mathematics and Computer Science was #23 in the same study. As with the CareerCast ranking, math-intensive majors dominate the top spots on the list.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in math occupations will grow 28% between 2016-2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected as businesses and government agencies continue to emphasize the use of "big data," which people in math occupations are specially equipped to analyze.​