Mathematics has always held a central position in the liberal arts, and over time, it has also come to play an important role in more and more aspects of our lives. Mathematical analysis and modeling are involved in many areas far beyond the traditional association of mathematics with the physical sciences and engineering. This fact is reflected in the diversity of the students who study at least some mathematics during their time at Washington University — students who recognize the importance of quantitative skills in a world that is becoming more and more technological.

Students major in mathematics for many reasons. Some are planning academic careers in mathematics that involve teaching or research. Others plan to work as actuaries or at other jobs in industry or government. Some plan careers in secondary education. Many majors do not intend to become "mathematicians" at all but simply realize that quantitative training is a valuable asset in many kinds of careers; often, work in mathematics is meant to complement their study in other areas. Other majors view mathematics as an interesting concentration in their liberal arts education, even though they plan to enter professional fields such as medicine or law.

The Mathematics program gives majors and minors a broad introduction to the subject. To fit students' varying academic interests and professional goals, the department offers majors in Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Mathematical Sciences, along with two joint majors in Mathematics and Computer Science and in Mathematics and Economics. Majors are encouraged to complete additional work (perhaps even a minor or a second major) in other related areas.

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