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Mathematics Major

  • Available as major (B.A. and B.S. degrees)

    Theoretical or applied? Research or development? Classroom or conference room? Corporate or consultant? There are a lot of questions when you are considering a career in mathematics. We’re here to help you find the answers — and the best career fit for you. 

  •  What you learn as a mathematics major —mathematical theory; algorithms; how to use computers to solve problems — opens the door to a career in almost any field for you. Economics, science, engineering, education, to name a few.

    There are two basic types of mathematics, and you can study both at Olivet.

    Theoretical mathematics uses mathematical theory, computational techniques, algorithms and computer technology to solve problems. University professors often divide their time between teaching and conducting this type of research.

    Applied mathematics uses mathematical modeling, computational methods, computer analysis and other tools to identify and solve practical problems. Real-world examples include: helping an airline reduce the cost of engine maintenance; devising a detailed plan for the clinical trial of a new drug; allocating an investment among several financial instruments to meet a risk/reward trade-off.

    At Olivet, you can:  

    • Study number theory and proofs, abstract algebra, and logic and computational engineering.
    • Combine a math major with a major, minor or concentration in a related field, such as computer science or engineering.
    • Major in math and English if you are interested in writing or editing mathematics textbooks. 
    • Apply standardized mathematical formulas, principles and methodology to technological problems. 
    • Understand new principles and recognize relationships between familiar principles of mathematics.
    • Focus on God’s presence in math through devotions in class.
    • Do Senior Seminar projects, such as working with the Department of Military Science to re-line the parking lot at Fortin Villa in the most efficient way; or helping the art and digital media department come up with an optimal way to schedule their courses, faculty and classrooms.
    • And so much more! 

    The B.A. degree program has a liberal arts slant. It is specifically designed for students who want to complete a double major.

    The B.S. degree program is designed for students who want to major in mathematics, but don’t want to teach at the high school level. Our strong foundation of pure mathematics, combined with the variety of applied mathematics, prepares students to pursue an advanced degree. Graduate teaching fellowships are readily available at major universities for superior math students. It is also ideal for students who want to work in a mathematics profession, such as research and development for a company.

    Putting knowledge to work

    Math lab helps you transition from high school to college when you are taking freshman-level courses. Math education majors can get extra job-related experience serving as peer tutors.

    Math Club is open to all students, but designed particularly for math and math education majors. You will enjoy finding the fun in math with the “Mathematical Magic Show.” Learn the math concepts behind the tricks demonstrated to you by your professors. Then, go home and impress your family and friends. Or use the tricks in your own math lessons for high school students. Be part of the “Pi Day” activities on campus; math murder mystery; and mathematical origami projects. Do one-on-one tutoring with community middle school and high school students. Share social times and make connections with other Olivet students.

    Two research options are offered by Olivet for mathematics and science students: 

    • Pence-Boyce Research Program Fellowships — Named to honor two Olivet professors, Elbert Pence (physics) and Fannie Boyce (mathematics), and funded by alumni and friends of Olivet. Alumnus Mark Lockwood published his work on probabilistic polyforms as a result of his participating in this program.
    • Olivet Research Associates Program – Set up to fund research in science and mathematics.Work with a faculty member on a forward-looking, 10-week research project during the summer. Projects may be theoretical, lab or field studies. Receive a stipend so you can work full time on your project.  

    Accept the challenge and take the Putnam Exam. Designed to discriminate at the highest level and to identify the best math students in country, this six-hour exam would challenge even professional mathematicians. Just to score points is an accomplishment. For the first time in 2010, two of our students took it and scored points.

    Careers

    If you are strong in: 

    • reasoning
    • analysis
    • applying basic principles to complex problems
    • communicating your thoughts, ideas and knowledge 
    • meeting deadlines, even if you have to put in extra hours
    • teamwork
    • abstract and analytical thinking
    • logical reasoning
    • solving problems and puzzles
    • working with computers
    • helping others make decisions by providing information
    • efficiency

    then a career in mathematics just may be the right one for you.

    Many math career fields require you to have a master’s or Ph.D. degree. More than 80 percent of mathematicians who are employed by the federal government work for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) or National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

    Possible careers include: Mathematical technician, professor, statistician, operations research analyst, consultant, researcher, market researcher, cryptanalyst

    Mathematics is part of the Department of Mathematics within the College of Arts and Sciences. 

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  • At Olivet, you will learn from professors who care deeply about your professional and personal success.