Mathematics is an essential component of the traditional liberal arts. From their inception in Greek thought, the liberal arts included arithmetic and geometry. In the medieval grouping of the liberal arts into trivium and quadrivium, the latter four were considered intrinsically mathematical in nature. The ancient Greeks and medieval schoolmen considered mathematics as a propaedeutic for higher studies. The abstraction, formality, and rigor of mathematical reasoning instill in the student habits of logic, precision, clarity, and patience. The study of mathematical objects disposes the student to the existence of immaterial forms. The structure of mathematics reveals an order and beauty in the universe.

The Mathematics Program aims to convey three distinct aspects to diverse constituencies in the University. Mathematics is: a mode of formal reasoning in the tradition of the quadrivium; a practical art in application to the quantitative sciences; a discipline in its own right.

The Mathematics Program develops a student’s understanding of the nature, power, scope, and beauty of mathematical thought within a Catholic liberal arts tradition. The mathematics curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in theoretical, practical, and computational aspects of the discipline. The Mathematics Major, in conjunction with the integrated Core Curriculum, forms habits of mind and hones intellectual skills that equip the student for a lifetime of learning. With a judicious choice of electives and an appropriate minor, the Mathematics Major can prepare a student for a wide spectrum of vocations.

Explore the Mathematics Program

  1. One of our recent alumna won a prestigious scholarship from the AMS to study mathematics in Moscow, Russia.
  2. If you cannot fit the full major in your schedule, consider a mathematics minor. It only takes six MATH or STAT courses numbered 150 or higher.
  3. Several of our recent mathematics students have spent their summers participating in Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs. This is an opportunity to do mathematical research at another university for 8-10 weeks in the summer and be paid a stipend of about $4000.
  4. In the annual Jobs Rated report for 2013 the number 1 ranked job was “Actuary,” which involves a strong background in mathematics. “Mathematician” was ranked number 18.
  5. Majoring in mathematics is an excellent way to prepare for a career in business or law. Studies show that mathematics majors consistently score higher than most other majors in entrance exams for graduate school (GRE), law school (LSAT), medical school (MCAT), and business school (GMAT) – in fact, higher than pre-law, pre-med, and business majors in their respective exams.
  6. The patron saint of mathematicians is Saint Hubert ( c. 656–727 A.D.), whose feast day is celebrated on November 3rd.
  7. Pope Sylvester II (c. 946 – 12 May 1003) was a mathematician; he reintroduced the abacus to Europe, and may have been the first to bring the decimal system using Arabic numerals to Europe.

In addition to the core curriculum, mathematics majors take the following courses

  • MATH 151 Calculus I
  • MATH 250 Calculus II
  • MATH 251 Vector Calculus
  • MATH 270 Scientific Programming
  • MATH 310 Algebraic Structures or MATH 311 Linear Structures
  • MATH 330 Probability
  • MATH 490 Senior Seminar

Required Core Courses in the Sciences and Foreign Language

  • Two of the following: PHYS 221, PHYS 222, or PHYS 223
  • LATN 101 Elementary Latin
  • LATN 102 Intermediate Latin

Elective Major Courses (three required)

  • MATH 201 History of Mathematics
  • MATH 231 Mathematical Statistics and Design of Experiments
  • MATH 252 Ordinary Differential Equations
  • MATH 311 Linear Structures
  • MATH 312 Number Theory
  • MATH 350 Real Analysis
  • MATH 351 Complex Analysis
  • MATH 352 Partial Differential Equations
  • MATH 360 Differential Geometry
  • MATH 361 Geometric Topology
  • MATH 491 Undergraduate Research

Note: Students double-majoring in Mathematics and Economics may select at most two of the following courses as part of their mathematics electives:

  • ECON 403 Introduction to Econometrics
  • MATH 231 Mathematical Statistics and Design of Experiments
  • STAT 230 Applied Statistics

Many students think that majoring in mathematics will only prepare them for a career in teaching.

This is simply not true!

Even though many mathematics majors do go on to rewarding careers in teaching at the primary, secondary, and collegiate levels, many more go on to careers outside of academics. In fact, according to a National Science Foundation survey of recent college graduates, more than half of mathematics majors go on to careers in business, industry, and government. [See Ref. 1]

As a mathematics major, you will develop skills in

  • critical thinking and problem solving,
  • oral and written communication,
  • quantitative and computer proficiency, and
  • the ability to work in groups.

All of these are highly desirable for a wide range of careers, including law, medicine, and business. Indeed, studies show that mathematics majors consistently score higher than most other majors in entrance exams for graduate school (GRE), law school (LSAT), medical school (MCAT), and business school (GMAT).

For the most part, mathematics majors will follow career paths which do not fall under the job title of “mathematician.” Instead, they might be better described as

  • analysts,
  • research scientists,
  • program managers,
  • system engineers,
  • consultants, or
  • actuaries.

However, just because the name is different does not mean that you will be at a disadvantage. Remember that mathematics is a discipline, not a single career. With a judicious choice of electives, the mathematics curriculum at Ave Maria University can prepare you for any one of these careers.

The best reason to major in mathematics, however, comes right down to doing what you enjoy. In the latest edition of The Jobs Rated Almanac, which ranks jobs on the basis of working conditions, job satisfaction, income, and stress levels, “mathematician” was rated eleventh out of 250. (In past editions, it has ranked in the top five!) In addition, many of the other highly-rated jobs also involve significant mathematical reasoning and knowledge, and would be appropriate career options for mathematics majors.

If you like to solve problems, get a kick out of building and interpreting models, and have an eye for detail, then you might have what it takes to major in mathematics, and that could be the gateway to a successful career in whatever your vocation might be!

Richard Dittus, Sr., Ed.D.

Instructor of Mathematics
Education: B.A., Mathematics & Social Science, Fordham Univesity; M.A., Education with Mathematics specialization, Fordham University; Ed.D., Education Leadership, Higher Education, Nova Southeastern University
Office: Canizaro Library 227
Phone: (239) 280-2551

Michael Marsalli, Ph.D.

Chair of the Mathematics Department,  Professor of Mathematics
Education: A.B., Mathematics, University of Chicago; Ph.D., Mathematics, University of Michigan
Office: Henkels 3069
Phone: (239) 280-1606

Online Textbooks

101 Careers in Mathematics edited by Andrew Sterrett

Great Jobs for Math Majors by Stephen Lambert and Ruth J. DeCotis

She Does Math! edited by Marla Parker

What are the different programs of study in mathematics that are available at Ave Maria University?

Every student at the University must take at least one math course to satisfy the University core requirement. In addition, we provide major and minor programs of study, both of which can be tailored to the individual student’s needs and interests. You can consult the Program Requirements page for further details.

What if I am interested in engineering or computer science? Can I study that at Ave Maria University?

At this time, Ave Maria University does not offer programs of study in engineering or computer science. Students interested in engineering or computer science may find that studying Physics or Mathematics is a satisfying alternative. Training in physics and mathematics, especially in a strong liberal arts context, provides a solid foundation upon which a variety of careers may be built. Furthermore, the physics, mathematics, and other courses offered at Ave Maria University satisfy many requirements for pre-engineering and computer science programs nationwide. Physics majors have enjoyed post-baccalaureate success and achievement in diverse fields.

For additional details, see the FAQ section of the Physics Mysite pages

How can I satisfy the University core requirement in mathematics?

The University core requirement is satisfied by taking one of the following courses: MATH 100MATH 110MATH 120MATH 150, or MATH 151. Keep in mind, however, that some majors (like Biology, Business, and Economics) will require specific courses in mathematics. You should ask your academic adviser for more information.

How can I decide which math class to take to satisfy the University core requirement?

If you take our Mathematics Placement Exam, we can recommend the best math course for you. The placement exam is offered during freshman orientation. You can also make individual arrangements to take it by contacting the Department of Mathematics. We encourage you to look through the practice questions to get a better idea of what to expect from the placement exam.

How can I determine if I am prepared for University-level math classes?

You should be comfortable with the basic concepts of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Courses in precalculus and calculus, although optional, will definitely be useful. You can also take a look at the practice questions for the placement exam to get an idea of the sorts of questions that we might expect you to be able to answer when you arrive on campus.

What kind of calculator will I need in my math class?

It mostly depends on your professor. Although some professors will not let you use a calculator for exams, most will let you use one for homework. In any case, you should make sure that you own a stand-alone calculator that is separate from your ipod or cell phone. What ever brand of calculator you do choose to purchase, be sure that you become familiar with it, since your professor will probably not be.

What is the best home school program to prepare students for University-level math classes?

Although there are several good choices for home school programs in math, you should make sure that you choose one which exposes you to algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Some reasonable options include:

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list, nor can we officially endorse any of the programs above. Whatever choice you do make, be sure to dedicate plenty of time for homework, read your textbook carefully, and practice taking timed exams.

What should I do if I have other questions about studying math at Ave Maria University?

You can send us an email, or look at our contact page for other ways of getting in touch with us.

    • Telephone: (239) 280-1608
    • Fax: (239) 280-1637
    • Postal Mail: Department of Mathematics
         Ave Maria University
         5050 Ave Maria Boulevard
         Ave Maria, FL 34142-9505


“We are told that it is faith which constructed the cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Without doubt, but faith would have constructed nothing at all if there had not also been architects; and if it is true that the façade of Notre Dame of Paris is a yearning of the soul toward God, that does not prevent its being also a geometrical work. It is necessary to know geometry in order to construct a façade which may be an act of love…. Everything is worth the trouble of being well done that is worth the trouble of being done for God.” -E. H. Gilson, Intelligence in the Service of Christ, Christianity, and Philosophy (1936)