If you love math, your potential career path goes far beyond adding, multiplying, dividing, and subtracting. Math graduates often go on to become statisticians, accountants, or business analysts. Many industries need graduates with solid quantitative reasoning skills, too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth of mathematicians and statisticians is at 33%, beating the usual rate by a factor of more than four.
In this list, we have calculated the 15 best small colleges for math majors on a budget. Each of our chosen colleges adheres to our strict standards:
- Three relevant programs for students seeking a bachelor's degree in math or a related area
- Overall graduation rate of at least 50%
- Estimated annual costs of less than $35,000 a year (as reported on College Navigator)
Which college will fit into your budget? Read on to find out what will work best for you.
Each of these top schools has a minimum of three relevant programs for students seeking a bachelor's degree in math or a related area (including but not limited to statistics, quantitative finance, math education, and computational mathematics). In addition, they each maintain an overall undergraduate graduation rate of at least 50%. Of course, to be a best value, these top-ranked schools also have to demonstrate a genuine commitment to affordable education – which means meeting our net price requirements. All of the programs on this ranking have estimated annual costs (as reported on College Navigator) of less than $35,000 a year. But which of these is the most affordable small college for a math degree? Scroll down to #1 to find out!
For more information on the methodology, click here.
15. Stevens Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology prepares undergraduate mathematics students for a wide range of promising careers. At this top small college for math majors, students partake in a comprehensive curriculum that covers a variety of pure mathematics topics, including real analysis and differential geometry. In addition, undergrads accumulate valuable skills in scientific computing, statistics, and other applied fields that can help them earn lucrative job opportunities after graduation. Not only that, but the department's Algebraic Cryptography Center allows students to cut their teeth on challenging problems in cyber security, a rapidly emerging field in the public and private sectors alike.
Net Price: $34,935/yr
14. Harvey Mudd College
As a self-proclaimed liberal arts college for STEM majors, Harvey Mudd College is the black sheep on this list. But that hardly takes away from the numerous advantages this affordable undergraduate math school offers its students. For one thing, only the most promising young scientists and mathematicians attend Harvey Mudd, which has one of the lowest admissions rates in the country. And of those selected to attend, nearly a quarter were their high school's valedictorians! Of course, academics are challenging and competitive at this school full of STEM superstars. In particular, members of the math department can put their talents to the test as they study a laundry list of pure and applied topics, from scientific computing to mathematical biology.
Net Price: $34,529/yr
13. Hampden-Sydney College
Just as Hampden-Sydney College bears a double-barreled name, it also offers two distinct mathematics majors for undergraduate students: Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. The former is a more traditional program that prepares students for graduate research, although the analytical skills it imparts are just as useful for professional work in cryptography, actuarial science, and other similar fields. Applied Math, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on computer science and statistics, including programming in MatLab and Mathematica. But whichever of these affordable college math programs students choose, they are guaranteed to receive a top-notch education for a great price.
Net Price: $30,314/yr
12. Arcadia University
Arcadia University's top college math program features two separate degree tracks for undergraduate math majors. The Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics appeals primarily to students who want to work in the private sector (e.g. finance). It is also suitable for math majors with a dual interest in elementary or secondary education. The Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, on the other hands, provides a rigorous introduction to advanced topics in the field – both theoretical and applied. Both programs, however, require juniors and seniors to complete a capstone thesis project on a topic of their choosing.
Net Price: $26,632/yr
11. Lawrence Technological University
Mathematics students at Lawrence Technological University don't just go on to do great things—they do great things while they are still in school! From computational art interpretation to astronomics, the student projects that emerge from LTU's Math and Computer Science Department are constantly pushing disciplinary boundaries and challenging assumptions in highly arcane fields. Such bold thinking is the product of the intellectual climate and interdisciplinary instruction at this top undergraduate math school. In that same vein, LTU offers dual degrees – like the combined computer science and mathematics program – to unite students and faculty in their exploration of knowledge.
Net Price: $26,248/yr
10. Barnard College
New York, NY
One of the top women's colleges in the country (if not the world), Barnard College is a great choice for female undergraduates who are interested in studying mathematics. While it certainly doesn't hurt that students have unrestricted access to courses and faculty members at nearby Columbia University, Barnard doesn't rely on this prestigious connection to earn its spot on this top mathematics college ranking. And like many of the other programs on this list, Barnard's math department places a strong focus on applied topics. From computational modeling to statistics, this school works hard to make sure its graduates are well-prepared for positions in high-tech and interdisciplinary fields.
Net Price: $23,741/yr
9. North Central College
Thanks to a host of student resources and personalized learning opportunities, North Central College makes the study of mathematics seem as intimate as the humanities. Peer tutoring, faculty-led undergraduate research programs, and academic conferences all encourage students to participate in their own education both in and out of the classroom, creating a non-stop environment devoted to learning. This top small college for math majors also features its own chapter of the mathematics honor society, Pi Mu Epsilon, and leverages its partnerships with local schools and software companies to find students internship opportunities year-round.
Net Price: $23,565/yr
8. Andrews University
Berrien Springs, MI
Unlike most of the other top college math programs on this list, Andrews University is unique in that it offers both a traditional math degree as well as a bachelor of science in mathematics education. This makes Andrews an attractive option for aspiring academic and educators alike, both of whom can benefit from many of the other great opportunities available at this school as well. Andrews is also known for supporting its mathematics students both intellectually and financially, in the form of student and faculty co-authorship on research papers as well as numerous merit-based scholarships.
Net Price: $23,491/yr
7. Illinois Institute of Technology
As one might expect from a tech-oriented university, applied mathematics is the only college math program at the Illinois Institute of Technology. And yet, this singular degree features all the hallmarks of an IIT education: small class sizes, world-class faculty members, interdisciplinary research opportunities, and plenty of student clubs that cater specifically to math lovers. What's more, applied math majors at IIT often work in groups to address real problems facing society, like global warming and cyber-terrorism. This level of focus and commitment carries IIT graduates to great heights in their careers, whether in academia or industry.
Net Price: $23,371/yr
6. California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology—also known as CalTech—is widely known as one of the best small colleges for a math degree in the US. Unlike most of the other programs at this STEM institution, the undergraduate math major at CalTech is specifically designed to produce researchers in mathematics—students who will go on to innovate in mathematical fields yet unforeseen. To this end, undergraduate math students at CalTech are all required to take classes in real analysis, abstract algebra, geometry, topology, and even introductory courses in knot theory.
Net Price: $23,213/yr
5. Millsaps College
With just 760 students (give or take) in the entire school, Millsaps is the smallest of the top small colleges for math majors on this ranking. Size may not be everything, but thanks to Millsaps' diminutive stature, students can expect smaller class sizes, closer relationships with faculty members, and more independence to pursue their own projects. And even despite the fact that Millsaps is less than a quarter of the size of a number of other schools featured on this list, it still offers two distinct math programs in both applied and general mathematics.
Net Price: $22,512/yr
4. Anderson University
Anderson University distinguishes itself from other top undergraduate math schools by offering not two, not three, but six math degrees at the bachelor level—more than double than most of the schools on this list. In addition to more conventional programs in general mathematics, computer science, and mathematics teaching, Anderson features unique applied math programs in decision science, finance, and economics. Needless to say, students who are interested in using their math degree to pursue a career in industry will surely be drawn to Anderson's extensive selection of applied math programs.
Net Price: $21,945/yr
3. Asbury University
Like Anderson, Asbury University also offers an impressive selection of degree options for math majors. The sheer number of choices alone is daunting; with degrees in general math, computational math, engineering math, actuarial math, and math education at various grade levels, it's hard to believe students at this small Christian liberal arts college actually have to decide between them every year. But the reason Asbury has such a high mathematics college ranking is because every student is both empowered to make this choice for themselves and given the resources to succeed in the path they have chosen.
Net Price: $21,622/yr
2. Colby College
With an acceptance rate of just over 17%, Colby College is one of the most selective and prestigious liberal arts colleges in the country. Nevertheless, most people don't think of Colby as a mathematics powerhouse. That's because what Colby has to offer its mathematics students are the same things it offers to every student in every department: small class sizes, comprehensive liberal education, and the freedom to pursue their own individualized course of study. Students attend this top small college for a math degree not just to learn about math, but to learn about themselves as well.
Net Price: $18,908/yr
1. Mount Saint Joseph University
Mount Saint Joseph University's low net price (just over $18,000 a year, on average) makes it one of the most affordable small colleges for math majors in the US. But that's not to say that MSJ is any less competitive than more expensive schools on this list. In fact, MSJ has all the trappings of a highly selective liberal arts college: small class sizes, ample need- and merit-based scholarship opportunities, and student-led research. Math majors at MSJ can also opt for a specialization in a variety of related fields, such as financial economics, web/mobile informatics, or even chemistry.
Net Price: $18,140/yr
Want to find out exactly how much it will cost for you to attend one of these affordable college math programs? Check out the U.S. Department of Education's Net Price Calculator Center.