Mathematics is about searching for the underlying nature of phenomena and attempting to unify the phenomena through abstraction.
What is mathematics?
The preeminent scholar Carl Friedrich Gauss called mathematics “the Queen of the Sciences,” and the father of modern science himself, Galileo Galilei described mathematics as the language in which the “grand book” of the universe is written. Mathematics is both a science in its own right and an avenue by which other fields of scientific study are made possible. Mathematicians study structure, form, shape, and pattern, and they apply logic, modeling, and computational tools to solve quantitative problems from every discipline.
Where is mathematics used?
Mathematics is used as a tool to help solve and gain insight into real-world problems. Many academic disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, engineering, economics and management science, use mathematics to formulate, quantify, simulate and communicate ideas, questions and answers to the challenges faced in their fields. A degree in mathematics develops skills in abstraction and concise communication. Graduates find themselves in demand as practitioners and consultants to local and federal government agencies as well as private industry. Service, business, manufacturing, and research environments typically employ mathematicians as analysts or first-line supervisors. Some specific fields in which mathematicians are likely to be employed include our national defense, health care, transportation, agriculture, education, energy, and public policy.
What kinds of career choices can I expect?
A bachelor's degree in mathematics from Shippensburg University will enable you to pursue a broad spectrum of careers. Some specific careers in mathematics held by our graduates include:
- Statistician - uses mathematics and statistics to determine sampling and data collection methods, to monitor the execution of studies and the processing of data, and to advise on the strengths and limits of results.
- Operations Research Analyst - uses mathematics and mathematical modeling to analyze real-world problems, to forecast the implications of various choices, and to decide upon the best alternative.
- Systems Engineer - uses mathematical, computational, and analytical skills to work as a team member in identifying and solving system-wide problems.
- Applied Mathematician -uses mathematical, modeling and computational skills to solve real-world problems in a wide range of fields which includes business, biology, engineering, and physics.
- Actuary - uses calculus, statistics, numerical analysis, and modeling to determine rates and regulatory policies within the public and private insurance arenas.
In addition, Shippensburg University's Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics allows the student to choose a concentration of courses leading to secondary education certification. Such students are then qualified to teach mathematics at the secondary level. Students who choose secondary education certification as their concentration will be required to complete a complement of mathematics courses comparable in number and rigor to that required by the other allowable concentrations within the Bachelor of Science degree. In addition, these students are required to complete a number of professional education courses and to student teach at the secondary level. Because of the mathematical rigor of the secondary education certification concentration, students completing this concentration could easily choose not to teach but rather to work in one of the many career fields available to mathematicians.
Graduates of Shippensburg University's mathematics program may pursue advanced degrees. An advanced degree will often lead to career advancement or to additional employment opportunities within the fields of education and industry.
What undergraduate degree programs are available?
A student will obtain a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in mathematics. The B.S. degree requires a student to complete a common core of mathematics courses and one computer science course. Students may choose a concentration in statistics, applied mathematics or secondary education certification. A program of study is also available for those interested in actuarial science. For more information on these programs go to http://www.ship.edu/math/
How should I prepare for the mathematics major?
Students who plan to study mathematics in college should take four years of mathematics in high school including geometry and trigonometry. Many students also take calculus in high school, but this is not considered necessary. A solid foundation in precalculus mathematics is the best preparation for college. Advanced Placement credit is available for appropriate scores on the AP calculus exam. Oral and written communication skills as well as broad exposure to the natural sciences are also extremely helpful to students entering the program.
What kind of courses will I take?
The core curriculum consists of the standard calculus sequence and statistics, as well as a series of courses dealing with mathematical theory moving from discrete mathematics to linear algebra to algebra and finally analysis. Computers and calculators are used throughout the curriculum as tools to facilitate learning.
Students in mathematics education take a block of courses in methods of teaching and participate in a semester-long internship teaching mathematics at both the middle school and high school level.
What role do computers play?
The department is physically located in the Mathematics and Computing Technologies Center and is well equipped with computer hardware and supporting software. As a mathematics major, you will be required to take an introductory computer science course. In addition, technology continues to be incorporated throughout the mathematics curriculum so that you will learn how to use computers and calculators as tools in doing mathematics. Many of your mathematics courses will be taught in a computer classroom where computational and graphical software will be used to facilitate learning. Students will gain experience in the use of computers, calculators, and the internet to function as a mathematician or mathematics educator in the workplace.
What student organizations and academic activities are available to the math major?
The Math Club is open to all students interested in mathematics and is the most popular extracurricular activity within the department. The Math Club’s activities include attendance at department seminars, travel to regional mathematics meetings, and several social events. The Math Club is a student chapter of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).
A subset of the Math Club is the Pennsylvania Iota Chapter of Kappa Mu Epsilon, a national mathematics honor society. Membership in Kappa Mu Epsilon is by invitation only. Only students who maintain a high academic standard are eligible.
For students interested in applied mathematics, Shippensburg is home to a student chapter of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). Shippensburg students also participate in annual mathematical modeling contests and a weekly problem-solving contest with problems posted. Winners receive prizes and are eligible to attend the national contest finals.