Stanford University

Prospective Math Majors

“The book of nature is written in the language of Mathematics” -Galileo

Why Major in Math?

  • Mathematics is fun, challenging, and rewarding.
  • This subject is logical, creative, important for applications and enjoyable in its own right.
  • As you learn more about mathematics, you will see that the logical structure of theorems, proofs, and classifications has a certain aesthetic appeal.

Educational Value

  • The adventure of mathematics is thrilling, yet it can be difficult to find the starting place on your own.
  • Please see the Math Placement page and Introductory Math Courses page for more information and resources.
  • Our Sample Course Plans will show you a variety of courses you can take depending on your interests.

As a mathematics major, you will develop skills in:

  • conceptual thinking and problem solving
  • oral and written communication
  • analyzing and interpreting data
  • working in groups

All of these skills are highly desirable for a wide range of careers, including, but not limited to the tech industry, finance, business and law.

Many majors follow career paths which do not fall under the title of "mathematician" or "math teacher." Common Options include:

  • data scientist
  • quantitative finance
  • actuary
  • engineer
  • physicist
  • consultant

Keep in mind that mathematics is a way of thinking, not a single career.

With a judicious choice of electives, the mathematics curriculum at Stanford University can prepare you for many careers.

The department is committed to providing its majors with a solid and broad-based education in mathematics. We value our interactions with students and appreciate their questions, so please feel free to stop by our Student Services Office in Building 380, Room 381S.

Various Organizations

Stanford students may participate in the Putnam Competition, an annual math contest for college students, each December. Students can choose to receive credit for participating by enrolling in the 1-unit course Math 193, Polya Problem Solving Seminar, in Autumn quarter; however, enrollment is not required to participate. If you are interested in participating or want to learn more, be sure to attend the first class. See ExploreCourses for course schedule information.

The Stanford University Mathematical Organization (SUMO) is the by-students-for-students math club on campus. They host various events that are open to everyone: math majors and non-math majors, graduate and undergraduate.

Students interested in independent reading with a graduate student mentor may wish to participate in the Directed Reading Program.

The Directed Reading Program is a program of Stanford's Graduate Mathematics Outreach Organization in which undergraduate students (of any major) interested in independently reading some mathematics outside of their official coursework are paired for a quarter with math graduate students for weekly guidance and discussions. At the end of the quarter, participants gather for a colloquium in which each participant gives a short talk about their reading. The program began in winter quarter 2017.

During the summer, the department offers the Stanford Undergraduate Research Institute in Mathematics (SURIM) where students can work on a research project either one-on-one with a faculty member or in a group mentored by a graduate student.


Please visit the SURIM site for information on the application, program dates, eligibility, and funding information.