What can you do with a Math Degree?

“What can you do with a math degree?” I’m often asked.  Or students remark “I didn’t know you could do that with a math degree” when I speak at schools.  In fact, when I chose Math as my degree at MIT, my parents said “but how are you going to get a job?”. 

This means Math has an image problem.  As I’m in finance, I understand image problems.  The image of a mathematician is someone in academia.  A teacher or a researcher.  This is a disconnect between being a mathematician and doing a non-academic job because most jobs don’t have the title “mathematician” or “head mathematician”.  Even the term STEM is slightly misleading because scientists, technology and engineers use math as their foundation. 

When I graduated, I went into finance to trade derivatives.  So what people see is a banker.  However when people ask what I do, I pick out a few of the highlights of jobs I’ve had, but I always come back to the fact that I’m a mathematician.  That’s because (in my humble opinion of course) a math degree is one of the best degrees you can get.  It trains you to think analytically, critically and logically.  That means, that you can then go on to do any job and have any career you want.


That’s because we don’t necessarily know what the jobs of the future are.  So you need a brain that can solve problems and learn along the way.  While it sounds like AI, it’s what you get with a math degree.  

Terri Duhon