Business, Computers & Math 

Degrees Offered:

  • BA
  • MA
  • PhD
  • Minor*

Department Website

Degree Requirements 

Sample Four Year Plan

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* = Minors are not technically a degree, but can be pursued to supplement a bachelor's degree

From its inception, mathematics has played a vital role in the organization of society and in our understanding of the world. As society has grown more complex, mathematical knowledge has evolved, expanded and continued to function as a dynamic force in dealing with the problems of our times.

The Department of Mathematics offers a curriculum well-suited for students aiming toward a variety of mathematical careers in industry or secondary education or planning for graduate education.

I have fond memories of my time in the math department as an undergraduate and have since found my decision to get a math degree at CU to be one of my best life choices. It has given me a front row seat through my career to some of the most profound events of the last generation, including the dot com boom (and bust), when I was involved with several successful high-tech startups, and the credit crisis, where I was involved in many of the biggest battles to come out of the event, including the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and AIG bailout litigation, among others."

— Collin Starkweather (BA 1996)

Mathematics is a powerful tool with many applications, and is critical to understanding everything from business to the sciences. At CU Boulder, there are a number of paths to a B.A. degree, including:

  • The Comprehensive Track emphasizes more theoretical mathematics, and is aimed at students seeking a general background in mathematics or intending to pursue graduate work in mathematics.
  • The Applicable Track emphasizes more computational mathematics.
  • The Secondary Education Track is designed to align with the Colorado licensure requirements for mathematics secondary education.
  • The Computational Track is designed for students with an interest in the intersection of mathematics and computer science.
  • The Statistics Track emphasizes statistics.

And the Department of Mathematics at CU Boulder is one of the top 50 programs in the nation, according to the most recent US News and World Report rankings.

This ranking is thanks in part to a number excellent and award-winning faculty, including recipients of awards like the Burton W. Jones Award for Distinguished College of University Teaching of Mathematics by the Mathematical Association of America and the CAREER Award by the National Science Foundation, prestigious memberships to the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study and the American Mathematical Society and fellowships for organizations like Fulbright, Alfred P. Sloan, National Science Foundation and Humboldt.

The Department of Mathematics is nationally recognized in several areas of research, including, but not limited to, Algebraic and Differential Geometry, Noncommutative Geometry, Operator Algebras, Probability, Mathematical Physics, Number Theory, Combinatorics, Logic and Foundations, Topology and Mathematics Education.

Their diverse faculty are affiliated with many different research labs and institutions, including the CU Boulder Center for STEM Learning and the Department of Environmental Studies, with interdisciplinary research stretching into Physics, Chemistry and Neuroscience.

For the undergraduate students pursuing a degree in mathematics, there are a number of research opportunities beyond just class work:

  • The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) offers students a chance to work alongside a faculty sponsor on original research. Learn to write proposals, conduct research, pursue creative work, analyze data and present the results. For more information, visit the UROP website.

  • Mathematics majors can graduate with departmental or general honors through the Honors Program. For more information on honors, visit the Honors Program website.

  • As a mathematics student, you should not overlook the opportunity to study abroad during your undergraduate years. The university offers more than 100 programs around the world. Students may spend from a few weeks to a full academic year abroad, depending on the program selected. On these programs students may earn credit as if you had taken the courses here, sometimes fulfilling major or core requirements. Language study is a prerequisite for participation in many programs, so early planning for study abroad is essential. Further information about study abroad is available from Education Abroad, 303-492-7741 or on the education abroad website.

  • The Department of Mathematics offers two five-year concurrent degree programs: one leads to a B.A. and an M.A. in mathematics, while the other leads to a B.A. in mathematics and an M.S. in applied mathematics. For details, contact the department.

  • Starting in 2018, the Department of Mathematics will offer qualified undergraduates a Summer REU. More information on this new opportunity is available on the Summer Research in Mathematics webpage.

Those who specialize in mathematics are needed by almost all companies engaged in industrial and scientific research. In addition, organizations involved in computational work or statistical analysis make use of the talents of those trained in this field. Advanced work is necessary for students who plan to do research in pure mathematics. Career options for mathematics majors who have completed both theoretical and practical courses include jobs in business, industry, science and government.  

Graduates trained in statistics are particularly in demand in statistical analysis, investment counseling, and actuarial work. The Mathematics Department is one of the sponsors of the Actuarial Studies and Quantitative Finance Program. For more information on this program and the certificate tracks available to students, see the Actuarial Studies and Quantitative Finance program website.

A nationwide need for well-trained secondary school mathematics teachers provides opportunities for students who have taken the appropriate program and earned state licensure. Please contact the School of Education for further information.

Career Services offers free services for all CU Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation, to help students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work by discussing major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation. 

The 2016 median salary for mathematicians and statisticians with a master’s degree was $81,950 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to the 2017-18 College Salary Report by PayScale Human Capital: 

  • the median salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and 0-5 years of experience is $57,600;
  • median salary for 10-plus years of experience, $113,200.

Estimated Math Salary Info

At CU Boulder, Mathematics graduates earn less than the nationwide average of comparable majors as reported by PayScale. CU Boulder alumni in this discipline earn an estimated annual salary of $90,551 based on a pool of 476 alumni who graduated between 1989 and 2018. This amount, however, is slightly higher than the average for all CU Boulder graduates with a bachelor's degree, according to a survey by Esmi Alumni Insight of 25,000 alumni who graduated during that same stretch.

Job growth for mathematics and statistics field is projected to be 33 percent for 2016-2026, compared to the average for all jobs (7 percent), according to the labor-statistics bureau.

The mathematics department has an extensive list of alumni that are either working or have worked in a variety of industries across the globe. Some alumni of the program include:

  • Matt Stone (BA '93) is a co-creator of the animated TV series South Park and co-writer of the Tony Award-winning musical The Book of Mormon.
  • Morris Hoffman (BA '74) serves as a judge on the Denver District Court and judge-in-residence at the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research.
  • Robert C. Gunning (BA '52) is a professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, where he has served appointments as a department chairman (1976-79) and dean of the faculty (1989-1995).
  • Donald Spencer (BA '34) served as professor of mathematics at MIT, Stanford and Princeton universities. Spencer Peak, a 13,087-foot mountain three miles southwest of Silverton, Colorado, was named in his honor in 2016.