Is Math Major Hard? (With Student Quotes) - College Insider (2023)

Do you intend to major in mathematics? Do you enjoy formulas and numbers?

But is studying for and pursuing a math major hard? Due of its complexity, math majors frequently experience academic difficulties.

The fantastic thing for math majors is that employers are really interested in hiring them. These degrees also pay quite well.

This article will cover a variety of topics, including what a math major entails, what to expect to study, if earning a math degree is worthwhile, and more.

I’ve asked some math majors at prestigious universities to provide their perspectives as well.

  • Related article: Which Are the Hardest College Majors?
Is Math Major Hard? (With Student Quotes) - College Insider (1)

Table of Contents show

What Is a Mathematics Major?

Mathematics is studied in many different forms by math majors, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, statistics, probability, etc. The primary objective of a math major is to develop mathematical thinking skills.

Pure mathematics and applied mathematics are the two subcategories of mathematics offered as a major.

Pure mathematics is less useful than applied mathematics. The goal of applied mathematicians is to use mathematical models or ideas to resolve practical issues. For instance, an applied mathematician might apply mathematics to forecast stock prices or estimate traffic flow.

Numbers, sets, functions, graphs, topology, and other abstract ideas are the focus of pure mathematics. Due to their emphasis on abstractions rather than practical applications, pure mathematicians are frequently referred to as “theoretical.”

A person who studies number theory or graph theory is an illustration of a pure mathematician. If you like movies, watch the performances of Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” and Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind” – both portraying pure mathematicians.

Looking at the two distinct jobs for which a math major will be prepared will help you understand the differences between these two sorts of math.

An applied mathematician applies their mathematical expertise to issues in other disciplines. They could work for businesses, governmental bodies, academic institutions, or any other group in need of assistance. Cryptography code breaking falls under this.

A pure mathematician need not have any background in the subjects or businesses they work in. They merely seek an understanding of the underlying idea. Many pure mathematicians decide to work in research instead of becoming professors, but some do.

Is a Math Degree Hard?

The subject of math is really challenging. Not merely remembering mathematics and formulas is necessary. It also aims to improve your capacity for problem-solving, abstract thought, and critical thought. It takes a lot of work, dedication, and time to earn a math degree.

In fact, aside from a few of the scientific sciences, the NCES reports that the mathematics major has the greatest rate of transfers out of the major.

In math, numbers are not everything. Also involved are logic and reasoning. You must comprehend both what you are doing and why you are doing it. For proofs, you must adhere to a rigid set of procedures in a predetermined sequence. When writing proofs, you must carefully and logically evaluate each step.

Because creating proofs requires them to apply their analytical abilities, math majors frequently enjoy the process. However, a lot of students detest arithmetic because they believe they will never truly “understand” it.

High levels of anxiousness have been reported among college students pursuing mathematics degrees. The hardest classes they took for their degree, according to many STEM students, included calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, and numerical analysis.

Even though math can be challenging, there are many advantages to getting a degree in the subject if you’re ready to work hard. It’ll be worth the hard work and you’ll learn useful skills that will benefit you all through your life.

Is Math Major Hard? (With Student Quotes) - College Insider (2)

Common Courses for Math Majors

For those looking to obtain a mathematics bachelor’s degree, several universities offer a wide range of courses. These can vary depending on your area of math specialization:

Mathematics – Students who choose this option can enroll in courses in all branches of mathematics. The learner can choose the topic that best appeals to them.

Mathematical Sciences – Students who want to study subjects that are more closely related to one another can choose mathematical sciences. Student focus areas could include discrete mathematics, probability and statistics, mathematical modeling, or operations research.

Applied Mathematics – Applied mathematics is an option for students who are interested in applying their math skills to real-world issues. Examples include mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, economics, biology, and medicine.

Probability and Statistics – Probability and statistics are two tools used to analyze data. Students learn data collection, organization, and analysis techniques in this course.

Numerical Analysis – Numerical analysis entails using numerical techniques to identify solutions to systems of equations.

Pure Mathematics – Mathematics without any applications is known as pure mathematics. Pure mathematics examines abstract ideas and theories.

Combinatorial and Graph Theory – The links between sets and graphs are the focus of combinatorial and graph theory.

Differential Equations – Solving ordinary and partial differential equations is a component of solving differential equations.

Linear Algebra – Vectors, matrices, and tensor products are the main topics of linear algebra.

  • Related article: Are Calculus Courses Hard?

Is a Math Degree Worth It Or Not?

A mathematics degree can be a great choice for you if you enjoy math. You might end up working a profession where math is used every day if you perform well in school.

One should pursue a degree in mathematics for a variety of reasons while in college:

  1. A math degree will, first and foremost, considerably improve your employment. There are numerous professions that need a solid understanding of math. You could work as an analyst, researcher, programmer, scientist, mathematician, or engineer.
  2. Second, you’ll have a lot of possibilities for continuing your education if you have a math degree. A math master’s will put you ahead of other students if you wish to pursue a vocation that calls for a master’s degree.
  3. Thirdly, you’ll develop your analytical and critical thinking abilities with a math degree. Math will teach you how to approach problems logically and analytically.
  4. Fourth, programming and problem-solving skills will improve with a degree in mathematics. Coding and problem solving are necessary for many careers. If you have a background in arithmetic, you’ll be able to handle such obstacles with ease.
  5. Finally, having a math degree will enable you to appreciate the value of math in engineering, science, and other fields. The cornerstone of the sciences is frequently math. Physics, chemistry, biology, and even engineering are difficult to understand without a strong foundation in mathematics.

You have great employment options in a wide range of fields if you major in mathematics. A mathematics major is employable in a wide range of fields thanks to their analytical thinking and critical thinking abilities.

It can be challenging to learn math. It calls for a great deal of determination, perseverance, and focus. It will take a lot of time and effort for you to finish college. Studying mathematics, however, can be the appropriate choice for you if you enjoy numbers and problems.

Read the related, in-depth article – Is a Math Degree Worth It?

Is Math Major Hard? (With Student Quotes) - College Insider (3)

Is a Math Degree Useless?

A highly important subject is math. It is one of the things that everyone should study because it is so crucial. The basis of science and technology is math.

Without arithmetic, it would be impossible for us to comprehend many of the wonders in the world around us. It plays a significant role in both engineering and architecture. Even though there are numerous varieties of arithmetic, practically all of them are necessary to obtain employment.

The number of transferable abilities you learn will have a significant impact on how valuable your math major will be. There aren’t many occupations that just need a math degree and nothing more.

However, math majors can improve their employability by learning statistics, mechanics, programming, finance, accounting, and business management.

  • Related article: Is a Business Major Hard?

What Can I Do with a Mathematics Major?

You don’t necessarily have to work in a field related to mathematics. A person who studies mathematics can pursue any number of careers. Some examples include:

  • Computer Programmer – Most computer programs are written using mathematical formulas or algorithms.
  • Engineer – Engineers use mathematics to design buildings, bridges, roads, and everything else that goes into making our world function.
  • Scientist – Scientists use mathematics to analyze data from experiments and observations. They use statistics to determine whether their theories are correct.
  • Physicist – Physics is based on mathematics. For example, physicists use calculus to model motion and predict the behavior of objects.
  • Mathematician – Mathematicians use mathematics to solve problems in areas like geometry, algebra, probability, and topology.
  • Professor – Becoming a professor or teacher will usually require a master’s degree and probably a Ph.D. as well to teach at the top universities and schools.
  • Teacher – Pairing it with a teaching degree will allow you to teach high school math.

Is it Hard to Find a Job With a Math Degree?

There are many various kinds of occupations and jobs available. Some are managerial positions, while others are technical or administrative. Before you start looking for a job, you need to decide what you want to do.

Consider a profession in accounting or finance if you’re interested in working in an office setting. If technology is more your thing, you might want to try your hand at web design or software development.

If you enjoy working with numbers, you might want to choose a career as a mathematician, statistician, or actuary.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that math graduates earn some of the best wages. Holders of math degrees typically make $98,680 annually.

Matt Williams, Math Major with concentration in Pure Mathematics at Georgia Tech, says his options with his math degree were to:

  1. Continue his studies, get his Ph.D. and teach at a university.
  2. Get his Ph.D. and go into working for the government – think NSA and military.
  3. Continue his studies and work toward a Ph.D., but then drop out to start a company. The Google founders are a classic example of this.

Dave Stahl, a Math Major from Stanford says “I develop algorithms for an AI company. I also have friends who started their own software companies, as well as those who go into further research in mathematics.”

Is Math Major Hard? (With Student Quotes) - College Insider (4)

Are Math Majors Smart?

Typically, math majors have high intelligence and considered very smart by those around them. The theory underlying the subject as well as practical application are two things that math majors need to be able to comprehend. They must be smart, have excellent analytical and problem-solving skills, and be skilled with numbers.

They are rapid and simple learners of new things. Compared to students studying in other fields, they typically have a stronger aptitude for problem solving.

In order to thrive in a math major, these students must also be incredibly tenacious and determined.

One of the most challenging academic disciplines is math. A lot of focus and effort are needed.

When it comes to admissions to math degree programs, many colleges are extremely picky. High academic standards and a passion for math are required of students.

But not every intelligent kid will succeed in the math major program. This implies that a large number of intelligent students may also be rejected from or fail the math program.

Is Math Major Hard? Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt, math is challenging. But if you’re prepared to work hard and put in the time, you’ll discover that studying math is worthwhile.

Remembering that math is more than just completing long division problems and solving equations is crucial. More than that is involved. Our daily activities involve math. Math is incredibly important in all fields, including engineering, health, science, and business.

Therefore, regardless of whether you choose to major in math or not, be sure not to pass up this intriguing field because it is challenging.

Learn more about related fields of study:

  • Is Engineering Major Difficult?
  • Is Accounting Difficult?
  • Are Differential Equations Difficult?


How hard is a mathematics major? ›

Mathematics is one of the more challenging degrees at most universities. That said, college is really not that hard if you like the major you choose and are actually willing to read about and learn about the subject a bit outside of your classes. I have never found mathematics hard.

Why is college math so hard? ›

“The sequential nature of math coupled with its own vocabulary, need for persistent studying, and the speed at which math is taught in higher education, with approximately 15 weeks in a semester, creates major problems for college students.” All of this mathematical jargon can be tough to retain, so it's important to ...

Why do employers like math majors? ›

Employers love hiring math majors because they possess exceptional analytical thinking skills, pay close attention to details, and can problem-solve through rigorous and methodical processes. “In every job, there will be obstacles to overcome, problems to solve, challenges to face,” says Wagner.

What is the lowest math class in college? ›

Entry-level math in college is considered the stepping stone to more advanced math. Algebra 1, trigonometry, geometry, and calculus 1 are the basic math classes. Once you have successfully navigated through these courses, you can trail blazed through more advanced courses.

Is math the hardest major in college? ›

Not surprisingly, mathematics takes second place for hardest college major. A bachelor's in math may seem a bit generic, but it's actually quite flexible. Employers everywhere are seeking individuals who think independently, creatively and critically, and math students do exactly that.

How do you survive a math major? ›

There is no universal formula for how to be successful in a math course, but here are some suggestions that many students find helpful.
  1. Put in the appropriate amount of work. ...
  2. Put in the appropriate quality of work. ...
  3. Understand the learning process. ...
  4. Read the textbook. ...
  5. Start the homework early. ...
  6. Make use of office hours.

How many people drop out of math major? ›

In mathematics, the dropout rate is even higher with 47% (U.S. college dropouts show comparable numbers; Chen, 2013).

What is the most failed college course? ›

College algebra is the most failed course with about half of all students not getting credit for the course with a grade of a D, F, incomplete, or withdrawing. The challenges of learning algebra aren't unique to college.

How do you pass math in college? ›

Math Study Tips
  1. Study outside of class regularly. ...
  2. Read your textbooks. ...
  3. Get good at taking notes class. ...
  4. Make summary sheets. ...
  5. Practice all problems until you have mastered the ability to solve and check them.
  6. Be aware of what topics you know well, which topics need more practice and which topics you don't know at all.

Who hires the most math majors? ›

Business, Finance, Insurance and Management Jobs for Math Majors. Many graduates of math degree programs work in the field of business. Insurance and finance jobs account for 70 percent of all actuary jobs as well as 28 percent of operations research analyst jobs and eight percent of mathematician jobs.

Is a BS in math worth it? ›

It can even improve your sports game. Many professions, such as engineering, medicine, physics, nurses, computer science and actuarial science, require math proficiency. In addition, virtually all fields benefit from the analytical and problem-solving skills students learn in mathematics.

What is the most useful field of math? ›

Applications of Algebra

Algebra is one of the most important branches of study for mathematics and is applied in various other fields of study as well such as physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, biotechnology, and even economics and accounting.

Is it okay to fail a math class in college? ›

The Consequences of Failing a Class

A failing grade will likely hurt your GPA (unless you took the course pass/fail), which could jeopardize your financial aid. The failure will end up on your college transcripts and could hurt your chances of getting into graduate school or graduating when you originally planned to.

What if I fail a math class in college? ›

If you fail a class, you'll get a 0 on your transcript — and that can bring down your GPA. Failed classes count toward your GPA, though some colleges do not count pass/fail classes in your GPA calculation. If you get an F, you still have to pay for the class without receiving any credit toward your degree.

Can you fail math in college? ›

However, failing algebra in college can have dire consequences, and the math course could be one of the reasons students drop out of college. The Washington Post reports that 60 percent of community college students are required to take at least one math course, such as algebra.

What is the #1 hardest major? ›

20 Hardest Majors: The Ultimate Guide
  1. Chemistry. At number one on the list is chemistry.
  2. Architecture. ...
  3. Chemical Engineering. ...
  4. Computer Science. ...
  5. Aerospace Engineering. ...
  6. Biomedical Engineering. ...
  7. Materials Engineering. ...
  8. Petroleum Engineering. ...

What major is dropped the most? ›

Computer science, unfortunately, is also the major with the highest dropout rate among undergraduate students — about 1 out of 10 computer science majors leave college before getting their degree.

What is the most difficult major in college? ›

Top 15 Hardest College Majors Table of Contents
  • Chemistry.
  • Environmental Economics and Policy.
  • Environmental Earth Science.
  • American Studies.
  • Nuclear Engineering.
  • Energy Engineering.
  • Astrophysics.
  • Applied Mathematics.

Do math majors struggle with math? ›

It is absolutely normal to struggle with the material of an upper division math course. Just put more effort, more studying time, and ask more questions. Figure out what you can do to improve the way you study. Choose the courses you actually need.

Is it smart to major in math? ›

Math degrees can lead to some very successful careers, but it will be a lot of work and might require you to get a graduate or other advanced degree. For example, majoring in math can be a great start if you want to go to get a master's or doctorate in engineering.

How many hours do math majors study? ›

math majors to study 70-80 hours per week.

What is the most failed math course? ›

College algebra is the most failed course with about half of all students not getting credit for the course with a grade of a D, F, incomplete, or withdrawing. The challenges of learning algebra aren't unique to college. Algebra is also one of the most failed courses in high school.

What college major has the most math? ›

Physics – Physics is regarded as the most math-intensive degree path you can pursue within the sciences. Linear algebra, quantum mechanics, and engineering calculations are just a few of the core courses you'll need to take for this major.

Why do many students fail mathematics? ›

Students have engrained it in their brains, that mathematics is a difficult subject. So no matter how much a teacher tries to teach in class, such mentality makes it hard for students to grasp what is being taught.

What's the hardest math class in college? ›

Calculus is, according to Wikipedia, “ … the mathematical study of continuous change, in the same way that geometry is the study of shape and algebra is the study of generalizations of arithmetic operations.” BUT, don't give up all hope if you need this class for your degree.

What is the hardest year of college? ›

Some consider sophomore year to be the most difficult, just because it's a huge adjustment period for many students. While some students experience difficulties during their sophomore year, some experience a slump during a different year, and some don't experience a slump at all.

What percent of people pass calculus? ›

The Pass Rate
AP Class/ExamPass Rate (3 or Higher)Perfect Score (5)
AP Calculus AB61.4%19.5%
All AP Classes71.13%19.57%

What is a passing grade in college math? ›

In fact, a “D” is considered passing in both high school and college, as it's above 60%. While a passing grade may be as low as 60%, you will want to aim higher for many reasons.

Can you graduate college without passing math? ›

As long as you don't specialize in math or science education, you can complete your degree without taking math courses. Education graduates have a lot of career options.

What are 3 things a successful math student does? ›

Tips for Success as a Mathematics Student
  • Attend class regularly and pay close attention.
  • Review notes the same day after class and make note of things you do not understand so you can clarify them during the next class.
  • Make time to study math every day. ...
  • Do not wait until a test or quiz to study.

Can math majors make a lot of money? ›

Math majors can qualify for a wide range of high-paying jobs, especially if they also study engineering or computer science. Some of the most common math careers are actuary, statistician, research analyst, teacher, and mathematician.

What majors have the least amount of math? ›

Online Degrees That Don't Require Math
  • Anthropology.
  • Communications.
  • Criminal Justice.
  • Culinary Arts.
  • Education.
  • English.
  • Foreign Language.
  • Graphic Design.
Nov 14, 2022

Are maths degrees respected? ›

If you want to become the next big thing in game development or work on the next vaccine, mathematics can take you almost anywhere. In any job, we guarantee that there is some level of maths used there. Unlike some other subjects, a maths degree can be extremely valuable in almost any job, in any industry.

Should I get a BA or BS in math? ›

A Bachelor's degree in Mathematics is an undergraduate degree that provides theory and training in both applied and core mathematics. A BS in Mathematics provides broad knowledge of mathematics topics with depth in certain areas, while a BA in Mathematics provides a solid mathematics core within a flexible curriculum.

Do universities prefer math AA? ›

Overall, if a student is keen to pursue a moderately maths-linked course like economics or sciences, most universities would prefer having maths AA, either at SL or HL. On the other hand, a student interested in courses like law, language, or social sciences would be comfortable taking up maths AL SL.

What is the hardest branch of mathematics? ›

Algebra is the hardest branch of Maths. Abstract algebra particularly is the most difficult portion as it includes complex and infinite spaces.

What do most math majors do? ›

What can you do with a degree in math? Graduates with a math degree can pursue roles like statistician, operations research analyst, actuary, and math teacher.

What is the easiest branch of mathematics? ›

GEOMETRY: This is one of the most favorite and easiest branches of mathematics. This branch deals with the shapes and sizes of figures and their properties. Point, line, angle, surface, and solid entities constitute the basic elements of geometry.

Is it better to withdraw or fail? ›

Croskey notes that dropping a class is better than withdrawing, but withdrawing is better than failing. “A failing grade will lower the student's GPA, which may prevent a student from participating in a particular major that has a GPA requirement,” Croskey says.

Can I retake a math class in college? ›

You may repeat the same course only once. You may receive units for a repeated course only once. You will not receive credit for a course repeated after you have completed a more advanced course in a true sequence with a passing grade (i.e., Math, Chemistry, or foreign languages).

Do colleges care about math classes? ›

Most colleges want students to have at least 3 years of high school math, though more selective colleges prefer 4 years. Prioritize taking several of the following courses: Algebra 1. Geometry.

What percent of students struggle in math? ›

Take a look at the most common reasons why math is hard for students. Mathematics is often considered to be one of the most challenging subjects for students. Recent surveys report that 37% of teens aged 13-17 found math to be harder than other subjects – the highest ranked overall.

How many students fail math? ›

According to the most recent data, 71 percent of high school students failed geometry exams in June, and 68 percent flunked Algebra 1 finals. Exam failure rates for honors-level math courses were lower but still significant: 32 percent for geometry and 28 percent for Algebra 2.

Do a lot of people fail classes in college? ›

You may be surprised to learn that many students fail academically in their first year of college. One-third of freshmen students don't make it to their sophomore year. That's a huge number, and it worries everyone concerned with higher education.

Can you fail maths and still pass? ›

Yes, you can fail Maths and still pass Matric. You can fail one subject and pass your Matric. However, you are advised to only pass your Matric with good marks. You need good results to further your education at a university.

What is the dropout rate for calculus? ›

Only about one in five students who take calculus in high school actually skip over the first course in college. About 3 in 10 students who take calculus in high school will retake that course in college.

How many people fail calculus in college? ›

Calculus is frequently the first college mathematics course a student takes, and so many students don't understand what level of performance they will be expected to achieve or how little time they will have for the course. Failure rates of 30%, or higher, are not unusual—though they are by no means desired.

Is being a math major worth it? ›

Math degrees can lead to some very successful careers, but it will be a lot of work and might require you to get a graduate or other advanced degree. For example, majoring in math can be a great start if you want to go to get a master's or doctorate in engineering.

Is a math major a good degree? ›

Careers in mathematics rank highly in the reports on top jobs, with statistician, mathematician and data scientist all in the top 10 consistently over the past several years. For all these reasons, a degree in math is a smart choice.

Is it good to major in math? ›

By studying math you develop analytical skills and an analytical attitude. You learn to pay attention to all the assumptions involved in a given problem or situation, and you learn to break down a complicated problem into a series of tractable steps.

What math major makes the most money? ›

D. to be considered for the lucrative career path that you want to pursue.
  • Physicist. Physicists obviously need to understand math to do their jobs effectively. ...
  • Mathematician. ...
  • Aerospace Engineer. ...
  • Economist. ...
  • Actuary. ...
  • Statistician. ...
  • Cryptographer. ...
  • Financial Analyst.

Do math majors get paid well? ›

Math majors can qualify for a wide range of high-paying jobs, especially if they also study engineering or computer science. Some of the most common math careers are actuary, statistician, research analyst, teacher, and mathematician.

Which major has the lowest GPA? ›

10 Hardest College Majors by GPA
  • Environment Economics and Policy – 2.96 GPA.
  • Engineering Physics – 3.1 GPA.
  • Chemistry – 3.13 GPA.
  • Data Science – 3.24 GPA.
  • Legal Studies – 3.28 GPA.
  • Architecture – 3.33 GPA.
  • Urban Studies – 3.35 GPA.
  • Chemical Engineering – 3.37 GPA.
Feb 28, 2022

What is being a math major like? ›

Mathematics majors study the relationships between numbers, structures and patterns. Their classes range from algebra to statistics, and the concepts build on one another. Students learn skills like logic, analysis, abstract thinking and problem solving, which are valuable to future employers.

Are math majors smart? ›

Typically, math majors have high intelligence and considered very smart by those around them. The theory underlying the subject as well as practical application are two things that math majors need to be able to comprehend.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Last Updated: 21/11/2023

Views: 5896

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Birthday: 1998-01-29

Address: Apt. 611 3357 Yong Plain, West Audra, IL 70053

Phone: +5819954278378

Job: Construction Director

Hobby: Embroidery, Creative writing, Shopping, Driving, Stand-up comedy, Coffee roasting, Scrapbooking

Introduction: My name is Dr. Pierre Goyette, I am a enchanting, powerful, jolly, rich, graceful, colorful, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.