Data on Math Graduates?


What sort of data does your department collect on what your math majors do after they graduate? Right away, 5 years out, 10 years out? What have you learned from that data?

UPDATE: Lack of response to this question suggests there’s not much data being collected. Do you think it would be useful if this kind of information were available, e.g. to be better able to advise current math majors?



My department has made several efforts to collect data from recent graduates and graduating seniors on (1) job plans and (2) reactions to our offerings, The students have been remarkably reluctant to reply either by internet survey or paper survey or even invitations to talk with a faculty member. One explanation is that about 2/3 of our graduating seniors are double majors with the other major considered primary. Another reason may be that most instructional staff they know are grad students or post-docs or part-time lecturers who are not mentioned as sources of the requests.

We do hear from prospective teachers who complain that in May almost no jobs are posted by public schools and almost no salaries offered by private schools are attractive. We are trying to offer math content courses that are more directly “relevant” to future teachers. At RY we essentially require future teachers to take a 5-year BA-MEd-Certification program if they want the university to facilitate their licensure. For K-8 teachers we now offer “Geometry for K-8 teachers” which is based on the Sybilla Beckman book. Courses like “Axiomatic Projective Geometry” are unattractive to K-8 teachers because they seem totally irrelevant. They equally unattractive to future HS teachers who are unfamiliar with plane geometry and know from the Ed School that US HS teach geometry from an abstract axiomatic point of view,

Our Careeer Counselling folks track engineers, but not math majors.

Our fundraising Foundation, are primarily interested in high income alumni/ae and get little feedback from math majors in their efforts to track potential donors.

We do offer a couple of “Careers and Ideas” sessions for math students each term. Maybe we will eventually build some “community engagement” between faculty and students. I am not optimistic, given the “academic analytics” that judge deparmental “quality” and ignore undergraduate instruction but concentrate on publications and grants funds.


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Here are two ideas that have worked in at least one department each:

The MAA publishes a book called something like 100 Jobs for math majors. There are over 50 pairs of facing pages - each pair with a short interesting bio of a math major who has used his/her mathematics in an interesting and sometimes very unexpected way. In my University, I gave a copy to the head undergraduate advisor. That copy was so popular that it “walked awayt” within a year. So I’d buy another copy. Faculty members who read this book, or even just browse every once in a while can stop answering the question “What can I do with a math major” with the fairly useless reply, “gee, I guess you can teach high school or you can get a PhD and teach college”. Find this book by going to the MAA website ( and clicking your way to the MAA Bookstore.

Bryn Mawr College asked its math major grads every 5 years for a brief update on what they are doing. They post the replies on a special bulletin board that students pass regularly. As I heard the story from a former Chair, the interest was great by current students, and former students became much more willing to share stories of the varied ways math has been used in their lives.

Too many schools collect info on “first jobs” and keep in touch only with those who are likely donors. This is discouraging to most math majors, except maybe the double majors in Econ, Comp Sci, or Finance. So separate the data collection from the development of future donors. I hope that
these paragraphs are more constructive than my last post.



Thanks for this helpful post! For anyone curious about the MAA book, you’ll find details here: