Mathematics is about searching for the underlying nature of phenomena and attempting to unify the phenomena through abstraction.
The Undergraduate Mathematics Degree at Ship
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 bachelor's 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.
Students obtain a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Mathematics at Shippensburg University. Students are required 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.This curriculum ensures students have a variety of career options that suit their interests.
The department is physically located in the Mathematics and Computing Technologies Center and is well equipped with computer hardware and supporting software. Undergraduate mathematics majors are required to take an introductory computer science course. In addition, technology continues to be incorporated throughout the mathematics curriculum so that students learn how to use computers and calculators as tools in doing mathematics. Many of the mathematics courses will be taught in a computer classroom where computational and graphical software will be used to facilitate learning. Students gain experience in the use of computers, calculators, and the Internet to function as a mathematician or mathematics educator in the workplace. Ship faculty focus on helping students apply math in real-world settings, and technology is a crucial part of our undergraduate math program.
Students are encouraged to pursue undergraduate research projects with faculty mentors. Projects can be based around any mathematical idea or problem that interests the student, and faculty often have a few good ideas of their own for research projects. Collaborating with faculty members often leads to innovative ideas. Research helps math majors get involved in the mathematics field before they graduate.
Mathematics Admission and Degree Requirements
Students who plan to study mathematics at Ship 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 pre-calculus 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 our PA bachelor's degree program in mathematics.
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.
Careers for Math Majors
A bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Ship 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 that 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 and financial arenas.
In addition, Shippensburg University’s BS in mathematics allows students 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’s 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. Ship's undergraduate mathematics program gives students multiple options, and they can determine their career path based on their interests and goals.
Graduates of Ship’s undergraduate 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.
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). Ship 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.