If you are considering studying mathematics at tertiary level you have probably studied it throughout school and are reasonably proficient. You may also know of its main subdivisions: pure mathematics (subjects like differential and integral calculus, mathematical logic and linear programming, as well as areas like environmental or financial mathematics); applied mathematics (such as vector calculus, dynamics and probability); and statistics and operations research (including sampling theory, nonparametric statistical inference and stochastic processes). Browse Mathematics courses by state
See the Maths Careers and Australian Mathematical Society websitesfor more information about careers in mathematics and statistics.If you are interested in mathematics, you should also consider some of the specialisations within such fields as accounting, business and management, computing and information technology, economics, engineering and technology, education and training and sciences.
VET study in mathematicsVET courses are not available in the mathematics field, although study in the business and management field may provide some relevant background if you choose to proceed to degree-level study. This being said, it is worth doing some thorough research as to what course you can complete at VET level before proceeding to undergraduate study in the field.
Undergraduate study in mathematicsCourses and specialisationsThe following are just some of the majors you can study in this field:
Mathematics courses are more readily available than you might expect considering that it is such a specialised field.You will find majors available in areas such as engineering mathematics, environmental mathematics and statistics. Student numbers are quite small though, despite countless reports suggesting that mathematics teachers are in dire shortage and that there are few mathematics practitioners (for example, statisticians and mathematical scientists) to undertake future research and technology efforts.Of course, if you are contemplating university-level mathematics you might also be interested in this subject in its own right, not as a means to an occupational end. If you think you might want to go on to do postgraduate research, it is an advantage to do your first degree at one of the universities with an established research track record. Courses at the newer universities are usually at the more ‘applied’ end of the spectrum.While cut-offs vary, entry is not all that easy in this field overall, and you can expect to find mathematics as a prerequisite. There is currently a serious shortage of secondary school mathematics teachers in Australia and a decline in tertiary students completing degrees in these areas. A number of programs have been introduced to address these problems. Mentoring programs such as the federal government’s Mathematicians in Schools aim to engage students at a young age to encourage them to consider a career in mathematics. The program pairs mathematicians with teachers and students to provide students with a fresh, applied approach to maths education. University programs, such as the University of Sydney’s Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education (IISME), also promote new ways to learn mathematics. The Teach for Australia Program allows mathematics graduates and professionals to gain a fast-tracked teaching qualification by completing two years of practical experience in the classroom, while the New South Wales Government’s teaching scholarships provide students with a $23,000 financial incentive to train as a maths teacher.Where to studyAt undergraduate level, mathematics tends to be widely available (both within courses and as a stand-alone course), commonly found at universities rather than private providers. Depending on your specific interests, you will usually find a course of interest at just about any university. See Degree costs and loans for more information about paying for your degree.To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.Career opportunitiesIn 2014, the unemployment rate of graduates was recorded at 40 per cent (a substantial increase on the 30 per cent unemployment rate the previous year). This is also a field where many graduates go onto further study (43 per cent in 2014). Of those who got jobs, some went into occupations requiring specialised mathematical knowledge (computer professionals, actuaries, statisticians, mathematicians, and researchers); others went into more general jobs in public and private sector organisations; and some became teachers. The majority were employed in private industry. Starting salaries were very high, averaging $58,520.See the Career Search for more information about your career options.
Postgraduate study in mathematicsCourses and specialisationsAnyone interested in postgraduate study in this field is certain to know a good deal about it already. A significant proportion of mathematics postgraduates are doing research work, and many of these are from the large pool of mathematics graduates who go directly on to further study. There are coursework programs as well — many in applied mathematics and statistics. A strong academic record in the area is usually a prerequisite for entry. If you are thinking about a research degree, you probably have a particular interest in one area of mathematics. Because mathematics covers a number of different specialisations, it will be necessary to look at the strengths and interests of the faculties, departments and supervisors at the institutions you are considering to make sure they match your own. It is not always the case that institutions with a large, established research program will be best, although choosing a faculty or school with a longer tradition of research in the field could mean that you are likely to find a large group of like-minded research students and better access to resources and scholarships. As always, look into the specifics of your course choice, including the strengths and weaknesses of possible supervisors. The shortage of mathematics teachers in secondary schools nation-wide has led the federal and state governments to introduce a range of initiatives for mathematics undergraduates to continue on to graduate entry education programs. If you are considering postgraduate study in mathematics, you may wish to keep this career option in mind. For details on incentives available, check with federal and state and territory education departments.Where to studyBecause mathematics is such a specialist field of study, you will generally find it offered by universities rather than private providers. If you are after a very niche specialisation within mathematics, it's worth doing some extra research to see where it is best executed. To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.Career opportunitiesAccording to the national Course Experience Questionnaire, postgraduates in this field rated the skills gained, teaching quality and their overall experience poorly. With the government expressing concern about dwindling mathematics enrolments, employment prospects and graduate salaries for postgraduates in this field are above average, with 84 per cent of graduates finding work within fours months of course completion and the average salary sitting at $91,857.See the Career Search for more information about your career options.