Why Study Math?

Why Study Mathematics at All?

For those at an early stage of their academic career, this is a very reasonable question that we will attempt to answer.  A well-versed training in mathematics provides one with the ability to work in a variety of fields. Employers know that anyone with the ability to understand advanced mathematics has the capability to learn quickly and attack problems creatively. These are useful qualities no matter the area of employment.

A mathematics background opens the door to an almost limitless number of career options.  Earning a degree in mathematics in no way requires you to enter a mathematically oriented occupation in the strictest sense.  More importantly, it is the general analytic and technical skills that you acquire as a mathematics major that will be your strong suit.  Earning a degree in mathematics gives you the label of “trained thinker.” To view job profiles of recent mathematics graduates from across the country, you may want to visit the following websites:

You should also be aware that no one enters the work force with every bit of knowledge needed for their particular position. This is true no matter the occupation. For this reason, the most important skill one can have is the ability to grasp new situations and adapt quickly.  The ability to assess complex problems critically and assimilate fine details into “the big picture” is crucial. Also, good technical writing skills are valued highly. Employers know that the person with strong mathematics training will possess these important qualities.

But Why Study Mathematics at UMW?

We can sum this up in one word: opportunities.

  • the opportunities in our coursework
    Mathematics majors at UMW work with a faculty whose expertise cover a broad range of topics in mathematics, from pure areas like analysis and algebra, to applied areas like mathematical modeling and information theory.  Our students take senior level courses in a small classroom, typically with a maximum of 15 students.  Professors work here because they love to teach.  They are available and excited about working one-on-one with the engaged student.
  • the opportunities to go beyond the coursework
    Liz and Kathryn at MathFest 2009, Portland, ORThe department offers a wide variety of opportunities for our majors, from undergraduate research and independent studies, to the supervision of internships.  Our majors have the opportunity to work on original mathematics, travel to professional meetings to present their work, and, in some cases even have their work published.
  • the opportunities in the region
    Fredericksburg, the hometown of UMW, has a unique proximity to the metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C., and Richmond.  We are surrounded by government contractors, national laboratories, and research centers, all of which offer internship and employment opportunities.  Of particular note is the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren, a facility that employs many of our alumni and which has maintained active recruiting throughout the economic downturn.  The Naval Research Labs, the National Security Agency, Geico, and many financial institutions are also in the region, and each has recruited our majors as interns and/or employees.
  • the opportunities to serve
    The Mathematics Department is committed to promoting mathematics beyond the university, and students and faculty work together to create a community of learners.  We offer regular social activities for our students, often with outside speakers from neighboring universities and employers.  Our annual high school calculus tournament brings talented students to campus for a day of competitive learning and has been recognized. Summer workshops for high school students, taught by the faculty, offer students the opportunity to see the depth and beauty of mathematics and where it can take them.

Mathematics is the cornerstone of the sciences, and there is no better place to study mathematics than here at the University of Mary Washington.  But don’t take our word for it.

See what our graduates are saying about us…

Browse our pages to see what we are doing.  Contact our chair with additional questions.