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Mathematics Major

Thinking about objects of complexity and beauty to solve the world's most critical problems

Mathematics Major

Thinking about objects of complexity and beauty to solve the world's most critical problems

Jonathan Van Why in front of Kidder Hall

“An undergraduate degree in mathematics is a foundation to work on other stuff. You can either go to graduate school or you find another field that relies on mathematics and you get to be the math person on the team. It is so useful in so many fields.”

Johnathan Van Why (Mathematics ’16), Software Engineer at Google

The BASICS: Mathematics

Mathematics is a universal language that helps us express the patterns and structures in the world around us. Using numbers, shapes and relationships between quantities, it's a powerful tool that helps us make sense of the world.

The world is becoming more quantitative and data-focused, meaning you'll be well-prepared for many career opportunities with a mathematics degree. It will help you understand of the language of numbers and patterns and apply that knowledge to real-world problems. You'll develop versatile problem solving skills valued by employers in technology, finance, healthcare, research, education and so much more.

Mathematicians apply problem solving and analysis skills in many industries. Jobs include data scientist, operations analyst, financial analyst, computer programmer, teacher, economist, cryptographer biostatistician and so much more. Using mathematical theory, computational techniques, algorithms and the latest technology, mathematicians help solve economic, engineering and business problems.

Mathematical research is another fascinating occupation. Want to know what that looks like? Check out our work, where our own faculty researchers explore:

  • Algebra/number theory
  • Analysis and applied mathematics
  • Dynamical systems
  • Geometry/topology
  • Mathematical biology
  • Mathematics education
  • Numerical analysis
  • Probability
Check out research in the Department of Mathematics
Two students studying together in classroom

The PROGRAM: Studying mathematics at Oregon State

The OSU mathematics major gives you the opportunity to study pure mathematics fields such as algebra, real analysis, topology, probability and geometry, while diving into applications like mathematical software, computational models and methods, mathematical biology, statistics and actuarial mathematics. You can complete the standard degree path or choose one of four different options to gain specialization in your area of interest and achieve your career goals:

This degree option is designed for those interested in applied mathematics, modeling, and computation, preparing students for jobs in government or industry labs.

In the Mathematical Biology option you will learn how to use mathematics to solve problems in the biological sciences. This specialization will equip you for jobs in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries as well as research institutes.

If you are interested in preparing for a career teaching mathematics at the secondary level, you can add this transcript-visible option. This option is ideal for those students wishing to pursue either the double degree or master’s degree teaching licensure programs here at OSU, or to prepare for a licensure program at another institution.

This degree option is designed to allow you to focus on the study of the mathematical theory underlying statistics while simultaneously developing expertise in statistical applications. It will prepare you very well for careers in data analysis, banking, financial engineering or environmental sciences as well as for graduate study in statistics.

Learn more about your mathematics curriculum

Wondering what kind of classes you'll take? Your mathematics major includes in-depth curriculum, including courses like

  • Math in Society
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Stochastic Elements in Mathematical Biology
Mathematics courses

Want to know more about coursework requirements? Use the OSU Catalog to learn more about:

  • your typical sequence of courses
  • what pre-requisite courses you'll need
  • your major's core curriculum
Mathematics course requirements

What does your four-year course load look like as a mathematics major? Check out this sample plan for one example of how to map out your academic journey.

Mathematics major: sample plan

WATCH: Meet a mathematics major

Meet Elaine, a post-baccalaureate mathematics major with a mathematical biology option at Oregon State. Elaine describes how her OSU experiences led to a grant from NASA that funded construction of an astrobotany education center. Elaine proves that whether it’s your first-year or you’re between careers, mathematics is better at OSU.

The EXPERIENCE: Hands-on opportunities

What makes a mathematics degree from Oregon State better? One big reason: Our hands-on learning experiences! Science is often a competitive career field — these experiences give you the real-world skills to support your future goals.

Undergraduate Research

This is your chance to see up close what it means to be a scientist. Don’t just study science in the classroom — get in a lab and contribute to it, working alongside world-class faculty!

Learn why undergraduate research is better here


Practice your science in a professional setting. An internship with a real-world employer is the perfect opportunity to experience what your future career in science could look like.

Learn about amazing internship opportunities

Study Abroad

Our students’ work spans the globe! Immerse yourself in another culture to gain a global perspective in your studies.

Take your science studies around the world


Here’s your chance to discover like-minded communities of peers who share your interests! Come together and engage in meaningful ways.

Connect with a club and more members of Team Science

The SUPPORT: Learning resources for science students

Team Science is here to help you thrive. Our student support is another reason we always say, "science is better at Oregon State." You'll have access to a huge array of support services and resources designed to thrive both in and out of the classroom. Here are some places to get started:

Student resources

At OSU, support comes in a LOT of forms — here's where to start. From our Science Success Center to health and wellness resources, connect with the support you need to thrive as a college student.

Check out our student resources page

Learning Assistant (LA) Program

Love learning in smaller, collaborative group settings? Our Learning Assistant Program combines small-school attention with big-school resources. Your LA group replaces traditional lecture formats with active learning strategies, maximizing the way you engage with your STEM courses.

Explore our Learning Assistant Program

Tutoring Centers

Our tutoring centers are welcoming, friendly spaces where peer and faculty mentors offer guidance and share study techniques to help you grasp course materials and improve your academic performance.

Learn more about our science-focused tutoring centers


The mathematics department offers personalized advising for all OSU students, including math majors and non-majors. They're able to provide assistance with scheduling, lower division program planning and signatures on a variety of forms and petitions. But your advisors provide so much more. They'll also help you engage with campus opportunities, including learning experiences that go beyond the classroom!

Visit the department's advising page

And of course, you can always reach out to our student Peer Advisors at with questions, as well! Our Peer Advisor team is friendly, helpful and can share their first-hand knowledge of the Oregon State experience.

The PAYOFF: Careers in mathematics

What jobs can you get with a mathematics degree?

With a mathematics degree from OSU, you’ll be able to embark on a number of career paths.

Here are just several examples of career pathways our mathematics alumni have followed:

  • Senior Research Scientist | Adobe Research
  • Analyst | Deloitte
  • Tenured Math Professor | Clark College
  • Graduate students | Stanford, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, New York University
  • IT Consultant | Capital Group
  • Scientist | Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON)
  • Senior Software Engineers | NWEA; Nike; HP; Lithium Technologies
  • Technical Writer | Amazon Web Services
  • Kombuchologist | Lion Heart Kombucha
  • Senior Android Developer | Metal Toad
  • Field Service Engineer | Siemens Healthineers
  • Instructor | Portland State University

The PROOF: Meet our students and alumni

Oregon native – and role model to young girls – carves her own path in mathematics

Jennifer Smucker, mathematics senior, heads to Virginia Tech in the fall to pursue a Ph.D. in math. She hopes to be a role model for other women in STEM.

Biochemistry, mathematics and molecular biology students win 2021 Goldwater awards for research excellence

Two students from the College of Science have been awarded the competitive 2021 Goldwater awards.

Mathematics and writing senior awarded Department of Energy fellowship

Megan Tucker will graduate next month with a substantial amount of research experience under her belt: She was awarded the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship, which gave her the opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary team at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Albany, Oregon, during the summer of 2019. The new knowledge gained from her internship helped her land a job as a technical writer with Amazon Web Services — a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies and governments.

Math alumna’s disease modeling at national lab aiding public health initiatives to combat COVID-19

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has placed mathematical models in the spotlight as they have become central to public health interventions, planning, resource allocation and forecasts.

Math senior finds inspiration from women mathematicians at OSU

Inspired by her mathematics professors, Sara Tro is headed to the University of Colorado, Boulder, to pursue a Ph.D. in applied mathematics.

Download Mathematics brochure 2022 (PDF)