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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Applied Mathematics

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Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Applied Mathematics


The University of Washington was chosen as the best online master’s degree in applied mathematics for value. This public four-year institution located in Seattle has a reputation for strong academic programs, accomplished faculty members, and reasonable tuition rates. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranked the school among the top 10 public universities in the country. In-state graduates of UW can expect an average return on investment of 13.3%, with financial aid considered, based on statistics provided by’s annual ROI Rankings. Despite higher tuition costs, out-of-state graduates can still expect a very strong ROI of 9.6%.


The University of Houston was recognized as the best online master’s degree in applied mathematics for flexibility. This public institution, located in the nation’s fourth-largest city, was ranked among the top 75 graduate level mathematics programs by U.S. News & World Report. In recent years, the school has also expanded their online offerings, including a graduate program in mathematics. Students enrolled in this program will be able to access course materials, assignments, and interact with peers through the web-based course management system at times that are most convenient for them. While many exams may not be administered online, students who cannot commute to campus will typically be allowed to have their exams proctored at an approved facility.

Financial Support

The best online master’s degree in applied mathematics for financial support is the University of West Florida. This public four-year institution located in Pensacola serves approximately 12,000 students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 92% of incoming students in 2010 were awarded some financial assistance. Of those receiving aid, 86% were awarded some grant and/or scholarship money. Approximately 40% of students took out loans to help pay for their education, mostly in the form of federal loans. The student loan default rate in 2009 was a relatively low 5.5%, indicating manageable debt for most graduates.

Student Engagement

The University of Washington was awarded the title of the best online master’s degree in applied mathematics for student engagement. The university serves more than 42,000 students, including a growing number of distance learners. Ranked number 16 for their applied mathematics graduate programs by U.S. News & World Report, the school employs faculty skilled at fostering intellectual growth, both on campus and in an online environment. Students can easily interact with their instructors and peers through the state-of-the-art online learning platform. In addition, students can build bonds with their classmates through social networking sites, clubs and organizations, or by forming local study groups.

Learning Support

The University of Washington was also named the best online master’s degree in applied mathematics for learning support. Ranked among the top 50 universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, the school has dedicated itself to providing a rich and supportive learning environment for all of its students. Despite working remotely, online students have access to academic advising and tutoring services in addition to easily accessible instructors and teaching assistants. All of these factors contributed to the University of Washington’s placement at the top of this category.

Faculty Credentials

The University of Washington was recognized as the best online master’s degree in applied mathematics for faculty credentials. U.S. News & World Report ranked the school among the top 10 public institutions in the country. In addition, the school ranked 16th for their graduate level mathematics programs. A strong group of faculty members is the foundation of the University of Washington’s strength in this area of study. Online students will learn from the same group of elite instructors as their on-campus counterparts and a student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1 ensures that they receive the individualized attention and mentorship they need to succeed in an online master’s degree program. For these reasons, the University of Washington was placed at the top of the list for faculty credentials.

Alumni Engagement

The best online master’s degree in applied mathematics for alumni engagement is Texas A&M University. This large public institution located in College Station has an alumni base of nearly 350,000 individuals. Membership in the Association of Former Students provides benefits such as access to athletics, clubs, community events, career services, networking events, and alumni trips. The school also has a strong presence in social media to boost alumni interaction and engagement. With all this in mind, Texas A&M University was selected as the winner of this category.

New Student Orientation

The University of Houston was awarded the title of best online master’s degree in applied mathematics for new student orientation. In coming graduate students interested in the online curriculum will be required to complete an online orientation program called Pathway to Distance Education. This is designed to help students familiarize themselves with the online classroom prior to their first day of class. In addition, students can also take a self-assessment to gauge their readiness for an online degree program prior to enrolling.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Applied Mathematics

Applied mathematics is the study of mathematics as it is used in engineering, science, business, and industry. An online master’s degree program in applied mathematics features instruction in advanced math principles as well as other courses within a student’s chosen field, with the objective being to prepare them to be a specialist within a specific industry. A master’s program may require the completion of at least 36 academic credits, although the length of the program may vary by college or university.

Class Curriculum

Students of an online master’s degree in applied mathematics program may take core courses such as vector calculus, dynamical systems and chaos, scientific computing, calculus of variations, and numerical analysis of boundary value problems. Some schools require a minimum number of courses be taken from their applied mathematics curriculum, while the rest of the academic credits could be earned in other disciplines, such as engineering, biology, or computer science. Read on for a closer look at three common applied mathematics courses:

  • Linear Algebra. The linear algebra course analyzes and applies numerical methods and algorithms to problems in applied science and engineering. It includes the use of conceptual methods in engineering, science, and mathematics, as well as vector spaces linear transformation and matrices, eigenvalues, and more.
  • Scientific Computation. The scientific computation course covers the use of algorithms in solving scientific and engineering problems. Some courses emphasize their use in solving non-academic problems, such as those encountered in industry or government. This course includes instruction in optimization problems, dynamical systems, probability models, and computer simulations.
  • Numerical Analysis. A numerical analysis course typically examines error analysis, root finding, numerical methods for ordinary differential equations, linear algebra and eigenvalue problems, quadrature, and interpolation. This course may also cover steady-state and time-dependent differential equations, stability, accuracy, and convergence theory, and more.

A course in an online master’s degree program in applied mathematics typically functions to one taken in a classroom. Students are given homework assignments to complete from a text book, and they’re graded based on their successful completion of assigned math problems. They will also be graded on their performance on exams, which typically account for a large percentage of a student’s final grade for the course.

Building a Career

Graduates of an applied mathematics master’s degree program may be qualified to work as a mathematician, or someone who uses high-level mathematics and technology to develop or understand mathematical principles. They also recognize previously unknown relationships between mathematical principles, create models to resolve practical problems in engineering, business, and the sciences, develop computational methods and computer code, and more, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Mathematicians are employed by the federal government, engineering research companies, at colleges, universities and other schools, consulting services, and architectural firms.

The BLS states that mathematicians earned a median annual wage of $99,380 in 2010. However, keep in mind that your salary may differ from the median wage because of your employer, previous work experience, and other factors. Job opportunities are expected to increase by 16%, or about as fast as average for all occupations, between 2010 and 2020. Employment positions are expected to be competitive because the number of people earning mathematics degrees exceeds the number of available job opportunities in academia. Instead, many mathematicians will need to find jobs in the government, businesses, architectural firms, or engineering companies. According to the BLS, a master’s degree in applied mathematics could lead to work in computing and in private industry.

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