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Why UT Math Honors?

A study released in 2014 on Careercast.com ranks ‘mathematician’ as the top job in the USA. The second best job is university professor. The third and fourth are statistician and actuary, both highly mathematical jobs for which a math major can be the very best preparation. A recent salary study from Georgetown University shows that Mathematics is one of the most lucrative college majors, with better earnings than Physics and most Engineering fields, and at the same level as Computer Science majors.

Mathematicians are not just math professors; many work in industry and government, solving difficult, cutting-edge mathematical problems, and interacting with scientists and engineers. The math major can also be excellent preparation for other careers, from law to medicine to economics to computer science to physics to secondary education. Below are some of the reasons why UT Math Honors provides one of the best available routes to any of these careers.

Student Outcomes. Since its inception, 100% of UT Math Honors graduates have have continued to graduate school or received math-related employment immediately after graduation. 88% of Math Honors Graduates continue to graduate school in a math-related field. Recent UT Math Honors graduates are pursuing graduate work in Math, Computer Science, Economics, Education, Medicine, Physics or Statistics at the following universities: Arizona State, Bloomington Indiana, California Berkeley, California San Diego, California, Davis, Connecticut, Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, North Carolina Chapel Hill, Oxford, Texas Austin, Tennessee, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Several UT Math Honors students won prestigious prizes during their undergraduate studies. Recent awardees include a Rhodes scholar (Lindsay Lee, 2014) and three Goldwater scholars (Ian Francis, 2016, Adam Laclair, 2015 and Britta Johnson, 2012).

Math graduate students are often supported by graduate assistantships or fellowships that pay all graduate tuition and fees, as well as a living stipend. Every UT Math Honors graduate who has applied for a math graduate assistantship has been awarded one. In recent years UT Math students have earned doctorates from Cornell, Stanford (math education), UNC, and Memphis (medicine). Our first three graduates have earned PhDs and are now at the prestigious Courant Institute, the Mathematical Biology Institute at Ohio State, and the University of British Columbia.  

Broad and Flexible Curriculum. The math department at UT has a broad and flexible curriculum designed to accommodate a student body with a wide range of motivation and ability. Exceptional students may skip junior-level math courses and enroll in core graduate courses as early as the junior year. The active and diverse research program in the math department supports a wide variety of courses covering all major fields in mathematics, and allows Math Honors students to work with world-class researchers in writing their honors theses. UT Math Honors students have also been very successful in securing paid summer positions to do undergraduate research at UT and other universities around the country.

Support and Activities. All UT Math Honors students are advised each semester by Dr. Nicoara, the Math Honors Director. Dr. Nicoara also helps them identify and apply for internal and external scholarships, and for summer research jobs. In addition, every student has a faculty mentor with whom he/she meets each month. Every Math Honors student eventually also has an honors thesis advisor. E-mail listserves send important announcements to regular and honors math majors.

Other activities include an undergraduate honors seminar, a Junior Colloquium that offers bi-weekly talks for undergraduates, and an active Putnam team. The Putnam Exam is the largest and most prestigious undergraduate mathematics contest in the world. UT's Putnam team does very well each year; recently the UT team placed 17th among over 1200 colleges in North America.

Cost. UT Math Honors not only offers one of the best mathematics educations available, it does so at an very low cost. Despite recent increases, UT in-state tuition and fees are still quite affordable at around $11,000 per year. For students with excellent records, a big part of the tuition is covered by the Tennessee Hope (Lottery) Scholarship. In addition the Math Honors students are automatically nominated each year to be awarded one of the UT Math Department Undergraduate Scholarships. The UT math department also offers the UT Pro2Serve FERMAT II math contest scholarship for high school students.

In contrast, for a middle class student, an education at a private or out-of-state college, even after scholarships and financial aid, can cost over $120,000, not including an average of over $20,000 in student loans. A wise strategy is to not make up your mind until you see the actual sticker price, including the loans you will have to repay, and then decide if that more expensive college is really worth it.

last updated: April 2016

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