Why Study Mathematics?

Mathematics is an exciting and intellectually stimulating field whose frontiers are rapidly expanding. Mathematics provides the foundation for much of the natural and social sciences, as well as many other fields where quantitative reasoning is essential. The study of mathematics offers opportunities for creative effort and accomplishment, both within mathematics and through its application.

Why Study Mathematics at PLU?

The Department of Mathematics offers a broad choice of educational and career goals.  We offer four degree options: a BA and BS in Mathematics, a BS in Mathematics Education, and a BS in Financial Mathematics. We also offer minors in Mathematics, Actuarial Science, and Statistics.

Bachelor of Science in Mathematics This degree is intended for those students who want the strongest possible mathematics background. This is recommended for students planning to go to graduate school in mathematics. Students may select electives from a number of courses, including statistics, geometry and mathematics applied to computation or to science. Students who choose a B.S. degree in mathematics often couple it with a minor or second major in such related fields as computer science, physics, computer engineering and actuarial science.

Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics This degree is frequently selected by students who wish to obtain both a mathematics major and a second major in a liberal arts subject. Recent mathematics graduates have taken a second major in such fields as economics, English, music, philosophy, Spanish, and theatre.

Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education This degree is intended for those students who wish to become teachers of mathematics. This degree does not provide students with a teacher certification, but does fulfill the requirements for PLU’s and other universities’ Masters of Arts in Education programs.

Bachelor of Science in Financial Mathematics This degree is intended for those students who wish to work in the financial sector, such as in the insurance or banking industries.

The mathematics faculty at PLU is committed to quality teaching and to providing a first-class education. Mathematics classes at PLU are kept small so that the faculty are able to know and interact with individual students. The Department of Mathematics actively encourages interaction among students, in the belief that a cooperative learning environment helps one achieve one’s maximum potential.

Each B.S. and B.A. major completes a year-long senior project on a mathematical topic of his or her choice. Students work closely with an individual faculty member on this project, which culminates in a public presentation and written report. All the reports are collected together and published within the mathematics department.

Each year, teams of PLU students enter the Putnam Intercollegiate Mathematics Competition and the Mathematical Contest in Modeling. These competitions, in pure and applied mathematics, respectively, provide substantial intellectual challenges that many students have found exciting and beneficial.

The department is housed in the Morken Center for Learning and Technology. All classrooms are equipped for multimedia demonstrations. In addition, there are two 24-computer lab/classrooms. One of these has Apple Macintosh computers and the other has Dell PCs for student assignments and projects.

The mathematics faculty annually award several scholarships as recognition of outstanding work in mathematics. Advanced students are also given honorary memberships in professional associations.

Careers for Mathematics Majors

There are a variety of satisfying occupations that require substantial mathematical preparation. Some of these are:

  • Actuary
  • Cryptographer/Cryptanalyst (code maker and breaker)
  • Economist
  • Operations Research Analyst
  • Research Mathematician in Industry or Academia
  • Statistician or Biostatistician
  • Systems Analyst
  • Secondary School or College Teacher

Many students use a mathematics major as a springboard for graduate work in such fields as computer science, statistics, biostatistics, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, meteorology and economics. Mathematical study also provides the intellectual skills that allow students to excel in business, law, industry and medicine.

Also see http://www.maa.org/students/career.html.

Additional Opportunities for Mathematics Majors

Campus Employment

Several employment opportunities at PLU utilize students with mathematical training. Students are hired to tutor in mathematics, conduct evening help sessions and grade mathematics homework assignments.

Advanced Placement Calculus

If you receive a four or better on the AB Examination, or four on the BC Examination, you will be awarded four credit hours for Math 151. Students with a score of three on the AB Exam must consult the instructor if they are planning to take Math 152. Students scoring four or five on the BC Exam will receive four credit hours each for Math 151 and Math 152.

A student who has taken a year of high school calculus may be placed into second semester calculus (Math 152) after consultation with a mathematics adviser. Credit is not given for Math 151 without an Advance Placement Exam result.

Students who have studied less than a year of calculus in high school are usually placed in first semester calculus (Math 151).

Mathematics faculty are happy to advise you regarding placement and course selection. Please call 253-535-8738 for more information.