Mathematics is one of the oldest and most basic sciences, yet it is the foundation for some of the most dynamic and rapidly growing professions. An undergraduate degree in mathematics prepares students for a variety of careers in government and business, secondary school teaching, graduate study, and, with proper planning, a variety of professional areas. Graduate study is advisable preparation for some industrial and government positions and for college and university teaching and research.
Career areas include scientific computing, econometrics, education, industrial mathematics, mathematical research, and the sciences. To learn more about the types of jobs mathematicians do, see Career Information on the American Mathematical Society website.
Why Study at Iowa
Iowa’s Department of Mathematics offers students a choice of programs to suit their career goals and personal interests. About 400 undergraduates are majoring in mathematics. The department’s low student-to-faculty ratio enables students to receive a high level of individual attention.
The department also offers research opportunities for undergraduates. You may even be offered one of the department's paid undergraduate research assistantships.
The department often encourages students to combine a mathematics major with other majors or minors. The requirements for several majors—for example, computer science, statistics, and actuarial science—overlap with the math major’s requirements, so some courses count toward both degrees.
Math majors can earn either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree at Iowa. The core course requirements are the same for both degrees, but the BS degree requires more elective course work than the BA.
Both degrees offer a choice of three programs:
Program A—This is the traditional and most general degree. This program is primarily for students who plan to work in business, industry or government, or to pursue graduate study in pure or applied mathematics. The flexibility of this program allows some students to take electives specifically preparing for graduate work, while some other students take courses emphasizing tools for applications.
Program B—This program is a good preparation for teaching high school mathematics. To earn teaching licensure, students also must complete the College of Education’s Teacher Education Program.
Program C—This program is designed for students who want to specialize in a math-related area such as actuarial science, biomathematics, biostatistics, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, physics, risk management, or statistics. Program C students take a set of core courses. Then they choose one of the program’s core mathematics subtracks or design their remaining study program according to their own academic or career goals and interests, subject to department approval.
Mathematics students in all programs take courses in calculus, differential equations, algebra, analysis, topology, and more advanced courses in these areas, or differential geometry, discrete mathematics, number theory, partial differential equations, and numerical analysis. Some tracks require additional core courses. The number of elective courses is also determined by track. Students who decide to design their own study plan have considerable freedom, subject to approval by the department’s undergraduate committee.
See Mathematics in the UI General Catalog or review the Undergraduate Math Handbook (PDF) to learn more about the course work required for each program and graduating with honors.
Minor in Mathematics
Math majors (in the BA or BS program) need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Admission Requirements Tabs
The new Math Tutorial Lab and computer lab are excellent resources offering additional student support and innovative teaching opportunities. You'll be invited to join SUMS, the undergraduate mathematics club, or GAUSS, the Graduate and Undergraduate Student Seminar.
Faculty, Facilities, and Resources
The department’s faculty members are strongly committed to research as well as teaching. They do research in both pure and applied mathematics, working in areas that include algebra, analysis, applied mathematics, differential equations, differential geometry, mathematical biology, mathematical physics, mathematics education, number theory, numerical analysis, and topology.
Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.
Application Process Tabs
Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.