Most people associate bachelor's degrees in mathematics with a concentrated focus on technical subject matter. Although each college or university has its own specific degree requirements, many offer both Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts tracks for math majors. Generally speaking, the B.S. degree has an emphasis on math, science, and other technical fields. The B.A. allows students to concentrate on math from a liberal arts perspective.
Most colleges and universities require the same core math classes whether students pursue a B.A. or a B.S. in mathematics. All math majors also choose upper-level math electives to complete the requirements for their major. In addition to B.A. or B.S. math degrees, some schools offer math degrees with special concentrations in math-related fields, such as statistics or computer science.
The B.S. in mathematics usually requires several advanced-level laboratory science courses. Taking the requisite sequence of courses such as biology, chemistry, physics or geology can typically fulfill these science requirements. B.S. math majors may also take technical electives in engineering or computer science. The B.A. in mathematics has fewer science requirements, and students on this track may take similar science electives as students completing B.A. degrees in other majors.
Liberal Arts Requirements
Students pursing a math B.A. may fulfill the same core curriculum requirements as other liberal arts majors at their college or university. The liberal arts curriculum allows math majors to explore interests in the humanities and social sciences by taking electives in these areas. Some schools may also require B.A. majors to fulfill a foreign language requirement through two years of college courses, or by passing a proficiency exam.
A B.A. or a B.S. in mathematics can prepare you for a teaching career. If you want to teach math at a K-12 level, you should ask an adviser about teacher certification requirements for your state. The B.S. in mathematics track can be a good preparation for technical careers. Depending on research interests, either degree track may be a good foundation for graduate study in math, or in a math-related field.
Based in Reston, Va., Lydia King has been a writer and editor since 1996, working with diverse subject matter including law, government contracting, philosophy and career guidance. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in history at National University, where she is pursuing a Master of Arts in English and comparative literature.