Thanks to the increasing importance of big data to businesses across industries, jobs rooted in math are expected to see strong demand in the years to come. These positions often come with good salaries and high job satisfaction. In fact, career website CareerCast says statisticians have the best job for 2017. Mathematicians and data scientists also make the cut as being among the top ten occupations for the year.
Math & stats degree programs provide skills that can lead to these and other jobs. Other students who major in math use their skills as a foundation to go on to professional or graduate degrees in the fields of law, medicine or business.
In addition to traditional, on-campus programs, some schools offer online degrees for math & stats. Degrees are available at the undergraduate and graduate level although a bachelor's degree is the typical education requirement for many entry-level positions.
Best Colleges for Math & Stats Degree Programs
To find the top schools for math & stats, we used a methodology that looked for schools offering prominent, accessible programs. Once the numbers were crunched, these ten institutions took top honors as the best colleges for math & stats degree programs.
With more than 54,000 students enrolled, the University of Washington tops this list of best colleges for math & stats. It was also named one of the ten best universities in the world in 2015, according to Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
The university's main campus in Seattle has the third most prominent program among the top schools for math & stats. Its math department offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees that are available in several options. Students can earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science that features a standard curriculum. Or they can choose from a comprehensive program, a teacher preparation option or one that combines mathematics and philosophy.
Graduate students can earn a master's degree or a Ph.D. from the University of Washington.
Purdue University welcomed more than 41,500 students to its school for 2017. The school is a popular choice for those who want an institution known for a rich history and a legacy of excellence.
At 12-1, the student-faculty ratio at Purdue University is the lowest among all the best colleges for math & stats. The university also has the fourth most prominent math & stats program on this list. At the undergraduate level, students can choose from five areas of focus within the math major. There are also dual majors available in mathematics/statistics and mathematics/computer science. Additional programs are available for applied mathematics and actuarial science. Graduate programs result in a master's degree or a Ph.D.
Purdue University is a public university with a main campus in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Within the University of North Carolina System, the Asheville campus is the only school dedicated to liberal arts education. That means mathematics majors not only study numbers but also gain a foundation of knowledge across a variety of subjects.
UNC Asheville has fewer than 4,000 students, making for a personalized learning environment. The Department of Mathematics offers four concentrations for majors in the field. The school's robust program offers students the opportunity to participate in a number of activities. These include three different math clubs and organizations, and a chance to compete in the North Carolina State Mathematics Contest.
For these rankings, the University of North Carolina at Asheville is notable for its small class sizes and for having the second most prominent math & stats program on the list.
The University of Iowa is not only one of the top colleges for math & stats, it is also regularly tapped by publications such as U.S. News & World Report as one of the best public universities in the nation. Known as "Hawkeyes", more than 33,000 students from across the globe come to study at Iowa.
About 400 of those students are math majors, offering a small program experience within the larger university. The program results in either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. There is also a separate statistics major. That program is available in three tracks for those who want to concentrate on mathematical statistics, data science or business, industry, government and research statistics.
In these rankings, The University of Iowa is also notable for small classes and its student support services.
Known simply as UCLA to many, the University of California - Los Angeles has the most competitive admissions among the best colleges for math & stats. It also has the best graduation rate among the institutions listed here.
Another factor that sets UCLA apart from the competition is the number of degree options it offers. The university has separate math and statistics departments. Within the math program, there are eight majors available as well as two minors, a scholar program and an honors program. The statistics department offers both a major and a minor. Both departments also have graduate degree options.
UCLA was founded in 1919 and enrolls more than 30,000 undergraduate students across all its colleges and schools.
Based in Ames, Iowa State University has a long history and can claim George Washington Carver among its illustrious alumni. It was founded in 1858 and has 10 schools and colleges.
The university was a 2015 recipient of the American Mathematical Society Award for an Exemplary Program or Achievement in a Mathematical Department. Its statistical laboratory was established in 1934 and was the first of its kind in the nation. Today, students can enroll in both undergraduate and graduate math & stats degree programs that are taught by award-winning faculty.
In these rankings, ISU ranked high for its admissions policy, which accepts most applicants. It also provides a number of support services and flexible scheduling options to help its students succeed.
Enrolling nearly 12,000 students, the University of Idaho is a leading educational institution in the northwest. Its main campus is in Moscow with additional learning centers in Boise, Coeur d'Alene and Idaho Falls.
Students looking for online math & stats degrees will find them at the University of Idaho. The school offers online master's degrees in teaching mathematics and statistical sciences. Those interested in an undergraduate degree will have to study on-campus. There, students can choose from seven options to earn a bachelor's degree in mathematics. The school also offers the opportunity to earn a dual degree in math and a field such as computer science or physics.
U of I is a public institution and was founded in 1889.
As one of Utah's most prominent schools, Brigham Young University is an affordable choice for math & stats majors. The school has the lowest tuition rate among the institutions on this list. It also has the third best graduation rate.
The BYU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences offers degrees in both mathematics and statistics. The math program offers an applied and computational mathematics emphasis as well as a general bachelor's degree. For statistics, there are undergraduate degrees in actuarial science and statistical science. An integrated BS/MS option is available for those who want to earn a graduate degree through a streamlined process.
Brigham Young University is a private institution affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its main campus is in Provo.
Iowa is a hotbed for quality math & stats degree programs, and the University of Northern Iowa is the third school from the state to make this list. UNI earned its spot as one of the top schools for math & stats by having affordable tuition and a solid graduation rate. It also has one of the more open admissions policies compared to other schools listed here.
The UNI math department offers three undergraduate majors, four undergraduate minors, one program certificate and five graduate programs. If you're looking for online degrees for math & stats, the school offers several distance education graduate degrees in mathematics. These are intended for those who want to become teachers.
Founded in 1876, the University of Northern Iowa is a public institution. Its campus is in Cedar Falls.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte rounds out this list of best colleges for math & stats degree programs. Known simply as UNC Charlotte, the school has the second lowest tuition rate among these ten schools. It is also notable for its student support services and degree options.
Within the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, students can pursue either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. Majors are available in both mathematics and mathematics for business. There are also three minors, a teacher licensure option and an honors program. What's more, math majors can choose to concentrate in actuarial mathematics or statistics, further expanding their options.
UNC Charlotte is a public institution enrolling nearly 30,000 students.
Math & Stats Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Math skills can be put to use in occupations across many industries. These include education, technology, business and finance. One common factor for many of these jobs is that they start with a bachelor's degree in math & stats.
Career Outlook for Math & Stats Majors
In a world of big data, math skills may be more important than ever. As businesses and organizations continue to gather immense amounts of information, demand for qualified workers to analyze it should be strong. Here's a look at expected job growth for some occupations popular with math & stats graduates.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Mathematical Science Occupations||$96,900||194,460||25.9%|
|Data Scientists and Mathematical Science Occupations, All Other||$100,560||30,810||5.6%|
|Mathematical Science Teachers, Postsecondary||$86,330||51,150||2.9%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Math & Stats
Numerous scholarship programs are available to pay for both traditional and online math & stats degrees. These include the National Merit John M. Stalnaker Memorial Scholarship, National Science Foundation Scholarships and the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. These national awards are in addition to what might be available through local organizations and school math & stats departments.
Renewable if recipient meets year-to-year requirements.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015