The Math Major
The field of mathematics sits midway between the sciences and the humanities. Like the sciences, mathematical thought is very analytical, precise, and rigorous. But like the arts and humanities, mathematics is about exploring places of incredible grace and beauty, some of which can only be accessed through the power of imagination. You can explore geometry in ten-dimensional space, learn about advanced and exotic number systems, and study statistical techniques for finding patterns in data sets, all in a supportive and collaborative environment.
Students majoring in mathematics can choose from three different tracks. The Standard Track allows the most flexibility and will suit the majority of students. The Secondary Teaching Track prepares students to teach math at the middle school level and higher; it focuses on building skills in geometry, algebra, statistics, and calculus, and many of the courses emphasize communicating mathematics among the learning outcomes. Finally there is the Pure Mathematics Track, which gives the deepest dive into the subject and is best for students considering graduate school in a mathematical field.
Regardless of your focus, the mathematics major will teach you the art of disciplined and logical thought, skills that are very valuable to future employers. A mathematics degree prepares you for work in fields like engineering, computer programming, information technology, financial planning, data management, business, and education. In 2019 the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed “Mathematician” and “Statistician” as two of the projected top twenty fastest growing occupations over the next several years.
The links to the right give detailed information about the course requirements for the major.
The Undergraduate Mathematics Community
The Mathematics Department endeavors to provide a learning environment where everyone is welcome and appreciated. The field of mathematics has real challenges when it comes to diversity, but for us it is a priority to work on this and improve the situation. One of our departmental goals is to provide a climate that is equally welcoming towards all genders, races, and nationalities.
We have a dedicated group of advisors who are happy to meet with you and answer questions. You are always welcome to drop in to their advising hours, or you can email them to schedule an appointment.
The department offers many activities and opportunities outside of our regular coursework. The Undergraduate Mathematics Club offers several get-togethers each term: problem solving sessions, discussion panels, friendly conversations with faculty, or just plain hanging out. The Directed Reading Program is an opportunity for undergraduates to learn a piece of advanced mathematics under the one-on-one mentorship of one of our graduate students. This program has been very popular, and we highly recommend checking it out!
There are a few different opportunities to work directly with a professor. In the summers the department offers several undergraduate research awards, where a student receives financial support to research an advanced area of mathematics under the direction of a professor. Information about those opportunities is sent out to all math majors in Winter quarter. Finally, through our Honors Program students can work closely with a professor for an entire academic year, culminating with the writing of a thesis and a presentation to other faculty and students.
Several special lecture events occur every year aimed at undergraduates, given by distinguished visitors from across the world. The two main series are the Oregon Distinguished Mathematics Lectures for Students and the Association for Women in Mathematics Speaker Series. Follow the links for schedules and information.
Finally, let us mention our undergraduate lounge. Named Hilbert Space, it is located in University 107-108. There one can find sofas for relaxing, tables for working, math books for browsing, blackboards for math discussions, as well as a selection of games for the moments when your brain just can’t work anymore. At any given moment of the day you are likely to find students doing all these things. Feel free to stop by and join in.