William & Mary

Courses in Other Departments

Particularly if you plan employment immediately after your bachelor's degree (as opposed to attending a graduate or professional school), it would be important for you to include elective courses that are related to mathematics. As an industrial mathematician, you are most likely to be acting as part of a consulting team whose job is to support various client groups within your business. It is very helpful if you have at least mastered the basic vocabulary of your clients. In the past, such clients were usually scientists or engineers, and mathematics departments typically recommended a science minor, usually physics or chemistry. Today, with the discovery by other disciplines of the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" (to borrow a phrase from a Nobel-winning physicist) other related areas are available. Three of the most exciting are economics, biology, and finance, and careful choice of elective courses from these areas can introduce you to significant applications of mathematics and make your studies more relevant to a significant group of potential employers.

In a recent survey of our graduating seniors, we asked for suggestions about other courses around campus that mathematics majors had found very interesting. Physical Chemistry, Classical Mechanics, and Electricity and Magnetism were mentioned, as were several of the Linguistics courses. Philosophy offers Symbolic Logic classes that were described as giving a different perspective on Math 214 material. In addition, several of the Social Science departments have statistical and mathematical methods classes that might be of interest. Usually these courses have prerequisites in their own discipline, and students may have taken the pre-requisite courses when fulfilling the College's general education requirement. However, students should be aware that the College limits the number of statistics-related courses that can count toward graduation. See the discussion under Requirements for the Baccalaureate Degree [pdf]. Mathematics majors will find such courses to be quite different in spirit from Math 401-2.