Undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Statistics
This page is intended to supplement the page on Choosing Majors and Minors from the Advising and Academic Services Center. It’s a good idea to read it if you have not done so yet.
If you already understand the basic rules to graduate, and you now want to consider what major to choose, then read on…
Why should I be a math major?
If you have found this page then most likely you are considering a major in mathematics. We think this is an excellent idea. Of course we do; we are mathematicians and statisticians, but there are lots of reasons why you should choose to major in mathematics.
The first and perhaps the most important reason is because you like it. If you always enjoyed mathematics in high school then why not continue to study it in college? We have a fun community of majors, with many activities and opportunities throughout the year.
Mathematics combines well with many other areas of study: physics, computer science, economics, business (especially finance), engineering areas of all kinds, and an increasing number of areas in the humanities that are becoming more quantitative. Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics often go on to graduate study in many of these areas, not to mention (of course) those who continue their studies in mathematics or statistics. Also, mathematics and statistics majors applying to medical school score higher on the MCAT than any other major, according to data from the AAMC, and are also very successful in applying to law schools.
If your main concern is graduating and getting a job, then consider the fact that the world is becoming ever more quantitative, and mathematical and statistical knowledge and training are valuable in the work-place. If you are interested in finding out more about what you might do with a degree in mathematics, then we recommend taking a look at the book 101 Careers in Mathematics, published by the American Mathematical Society. It includes 101 essays by people who describe what they did with their mathematics degrees. We have copies in our departmental office which you are welcome to borrow, or you can find it at the AMS bookstore.
The American Mathematical Society has a page with many items of interest to math majors, including career options. The Mathematical Association of America also maintains a page with information about Mathematics careers.
What’s the difference between the BA and the BS?
Many universities only offer one bachelor’s degree in mathematics, either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS), although many offer both. Until a few years ago we offered only the BA, but we found that every year there were a significant number of students who did many more mathematics classes than the BA requires, and we wanted to offer such students a diploma that better reflected what the students had studied; so we introduced a BS also. (If you want to do even more mathematics and statistics, you may want to consider our Four Plus bachelor’s/master’s program.)
The BA consists of 43 mathematics credits, and (like all BA degrees at UMaine) requires either a minor or a second major. The BS requires 56 mathematics credits, but you do not need to have a minor unless you want to. As a general rule students who want to double down on mathematics and focus their studies more narrowly will choose the BS, whereas those who wish to combine the study of mathematics with a broader education will more likely choose the BA. (Although these are not hard and fast rules, of course.) The good news is that you do not have to decide at the beginning; the mathematical content of the first year or two of the two degrees is the same, so you can let your experiences in the first few semesters help you decide.
We do not presently offer a BA or BS in Statistics, although we hope to do so soon. However there is plenty of scope in the mathematics BA to focus on statistics classes.
What about minors?
We offer minors both in mathematics and in statistics. You can find details via the links to the left.
(Please note that at present availability of statistics courses is limited, so you should consult with your advisor before declaring a statistics minor to be sure you will be able to complete it by the time you plan to graduate.)
Can I major in mathematics and minor in statistics?
Yes, as long as you complete all the classes you can complete a minor in statistics together with either our BA or BS in mathematics. Most students doing this would combine the minor in stats with the BA. However please note that you cannot count statistics classes both as electives for the mathematics degree and for the minor. (In other words, you cannot double count.)
Can I major in mathematics and minor in mathematics as well?
No. If you’re thinking about this then you probably ought to choose our BS option.
What about double majoring?
Although most students graduate with just one major, or a major with a minor, some choose to be a double major graduate. This means that within the total of credits needed to graduate (normally 120) you have completed all the requirements for two different majors. You can also graduate with a double degree, which is slightly different (see here), but the following comments apply to both double major and double degree.
A major in Mathematics combines well with many others. Traditionally many students have combined Mathematics with Physics, Philosophy, or with a teaching degree, and nowadays it has become increasingly common to combine it with Economics, Business, or areas that are becoming more quantitative such as Environmental Science. In recent years UMaine students have graduated with degrees that combined mathematics with each of these areas, and with many others.
You can combine a major in another area with either our BA or our BS, although most students choose the BA if they are double majoring, since this makes it much simpler to complete the degree in the usual four years. If you think you might want to double major then it is a good idea to talk to us about it as early as possible, to avoid some potential scheduling pitfalls.
There is an increasing demand in the workplace for graduates with excellent quantitative skills combined with first-rate verbal and written communication skills. One example of a double major that would meet such job requirements would be to combine our BA in Mathematics with the BA in English. (We have prepared a webpage that describes this in more detail.) There are many other options of course; if you think you might want to double major then we encourage you to talk to both departments as early as possible.