Why Major in Math?

A math major prepares you for many interesting, important, satisfying, well-paid jobs. Here is some evidence:

  • Why Do Math has a number of high level specific examples showing that math solves important and interesting problems. Dr. Math’s Why Study Math gives a lower level answer to this question.
  • When Will I Use Math shows how important math is in every type of training.
  • Exploring a Career With Numbers describes some careers available to math and related majors. 
  • Forbes Magazine rated mathematician as the Best Job of 2014, with tenured university professor, statistician, and actuary as the next three best.
  • The Wall Street Journal’s 2009 Career Journal  rated mathematician, actuary, and  statistician as the three best jobs. 
  • Why Major in Math gives detailed statistics to show that math majors do well on entrance exams, have high salaries, and have high job satisfaction.  
  • The Mathematical Association of America’s Mathematics Careers gives further information about careers, as well as a link to books on math careers. Career Profiles gives specific examples. 
  • The SIAM Careers in Math gives an overview of different careers available with a math major. 

Math majors are successful in many career paths in addition to teacher, professor, or actuary. Here are a few examples:

  • Christine Fox has a BS in math and MS applied math from George Mason University. She is a presidentially-appointed assistant to the Sec. of Defense. See articles about her in the Washington Post and Mason Gazette. She was the inspiration for a character in Top Gun. 
  • Carson Chow is a PhD mathematician working at NIH to solve the obesity epidemic, as described in A Mathematical Challenge to Obesity, New York Times, May 14, 2012. 
  • Jill Mesirov is a PhD mathematician who is associate director at the MIT/Harvard Broad Institute. She uses mathematics to study biology, including work on cures for cancer. 
  • DJ Patil is a PhD mathematician who is currently the Data Scientist in Residence at Greylock Partners. Here is a video of him telling the business community about mathematical chaos in the video Living in a Chaotic World.
  • Lynn Laverty Elsenhans has a BA in applied math. She is now the CEO of Sunoco Logistics Partners.
  • Alan Merten, president of George Mason University 1996-2012,  has an undergraduate degree in math from the University of Wisconsin.
  • David Dinkins, mayor of New York 1990-1993, has an undergraduate degree in math from Howard University. 
  • Jerry McNerney, US Congressman 2013-present, has a PhD in math from University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. 
  • Steven Strogatz is a professor of mathematics at Cornell University, but he also writes a column in the New York Times Opinionator section
  • Manil Suri is a professor of mathematics at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, but he is also a bestselling novelist. He wrote an interesting column in the New York Times called How to Fall in Love with Math.
  • John Urschel is a former NFL player who is pursuing a PhD at MIT. He is a great advocate for mathematics, regularly writing and speaking on the beauty and draw of mathematics. 
  • Danica McKellar has an undergraduate math major, and starred in The Wonder Years. She has written six books advocating for mathematics and education. 

This page is designed for those considering an undergraduate degree. If you are considering graduate school at George Mason, here is a list of GMU graduates and their current employment

Exploratory Hall Rm. 4408・Fax: (703) 993–1491・E-mail: esander at gmu dot edu 
Mailing Address: Dept. of Math. Sci. MS-3F2, GMU, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA