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Why major in math?

Mathematics is fun, challenging, and rewarding. It is logical yet creative. It is important for applications yet enjoyable in its own right. As you learn more about mathematics, you will see that the logical structure of theorems, proofs, and classifications has a certain aesthetic appeal. And mathematics seeks ultimate and eternal truths. Once we know something is true, it can never be false.

The adventure of mathematics is thrilling, yet it is difficult to find the starting place on your own. In the Pepperdine University Math major, we serve as guides to start you on your way to discovering more and more mathematics. Once you start on this journey, your life may never be the same.

What can I do after I graduate?

  • You can continue to pursue mathematics formally, by enrolling in graduate school, and becoming a mathematician. You might teach at a college or university, or become a part of a private think tank, or work for one of many engineering and cryptographic companies and government agencies. At any rate, you can be one of many people making new and amazing discoveries every year. Read more about preparing for graduate school.
  • You can go into industry. Mathematics majors are hot commodities in the workplace, because employers know that the mathematics degree is a degree in critical, creative, and logical thinking. Many engineering, biotech, actuarial, and computer companies need employees with mathematical knowledge, and many more of the same want employees who know how to think and solve problems. Some math majors become very successful management consultants, doctors, and lawyers for this reason. Read more about careers in mathematics.
  • You can teach mathematics at the secondary school level. At Pepperdine, we require prospective teachers to be mathematics majors because we feel it is the only way to ensure the continued high level of excellence of mathematics teachers graduating from Pepperdine. Mathematics teachers are in very high demand around the world, but especially in California. Many high school students graduate without basic mathematical skills, and without an appreciation for mathematics. A major reason for this is the lack of good math teachers. You can make a difference to many children and teens in a society that demands more and more mathematics of our students, while preparing them less and less. Read more about secondary school teacher education.
  • Mathematics is also a good background for many other fields. Some mathematics majors end up becoming physicists, chemists, biologists, engineers, computer scientists, linguists, lawyers, doctors, managers, and so on. A background in mathematics is often viewed extremely highly in all of these fields, and math graduates often do very well in these fields.
  • Mathematics is a good Pre-med major, and math majors enjoy higher acceptance rates to medical school than many more traditional majors like biology.

How much can I expect to make?

Of course, it all depends on what career you choose, but the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported in 1999 that the average starting salary for a mathematics major with a bachelor's degree was $37,300 a year, for those with a masters degree, $42,000, and for those with a Ph.D., $58,900.

In addition, USA Today reported that the average mathematician over the age of 30 earns $52,316, which is second only to engineers, who earn on average $52,998.

For more information about career opportunities, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Can the math program help me develop a personal philosophy of life?

While you are a student at Pepperdine, you will learn a broad range of ideas and experience the world through many ways. Mathematics can help you think clearly and critically about ideas you encounter. In fact, mathematics is in many ways a branch of philosophy. Plato required it of those who would study under him. Descartes used it as a foundation in his quest to know what is real and what we know is real. In the 20th century Godel's work sent shock waves through the philosophical community. Many of our students took some time to explore the implications of mathematics in theology, cosmology, and epistemology. Many students have also mentioned its importance in learning truth and avoiding error in their religious pursuits.

Why should I major in math?

Because it's challenging. Because it's beautiful. Because it's important. Because it's there.


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email address: kiga@pepperdine.edu