Academics & Majors

Theoretical Mathematics

College of Arts and Sciences

Offered as:
Specialization track in


Theoretical mathematics, an option within the mathematics major, focuses on the strong analytical skills essential for many jobs. This option is considered the traditional, or core, mathematics major at Washington State University. It is the recommended course of study for students who plan to pursue graduate school in any of the mathematical sciences, as well as fields such as economics in which a strong math background is a key asset.

Featured courses in theoretical math

Here's a quick overview of the featured courses in the math major's focus option in theoretical mathematics.

For complete core course requirements and planning guides, see the math department's Mathematics Guide for the Undergraduate (pdf).

Math major core courses

All math majors take the same set of core courses as a foundation for the degree. A quick overview:

Calculus I & II
Linear Algebra
Calculus III
Mathematical Computing
Mathematical Reasoning
Differential Equations
Probability and Statistics
Intro to Math Analysis
Abstract Algebra

Theoretical mathematics courses

If you choose the theoretical math focus, courses like these will dive deeper and let you study the aspects of mathematics that interest you the most.

Theory of Numbers
Higher Geometry
Intermediate Differential Equations
Applied Math II: Complex Analysis
Game Theory
Graph Theory

For complete core course requirements and planning guides, see the math department's Mathematics Guide for the Undergraduate (pdf).

See the WSU Catalog for degree requirements and talk with your academic advisor about planning and scheduling your courses. All students must meet requirements as outlined in the catalog in order to graduate.

Scholarships and financial aid

A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs.

For all students at WSU

Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.

To get all the financial help WSU can provide, you'll start with these two things:

  • Complete the University's general scholarship application so you can be eligible for scholarship consideration.
  • Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) so WSU can consider you for aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) based on financial need.

More about scholarships and financial aid

For math majors

Endowed scholarship funds are available to math majors through the Department of Mathematics and the College of Arts and Sciences. For more information, please visit the Department of Mathematics scholarship page.

Suggested preparation for incoming students

Students planning to major in mathematics at WSU should take four years of mathematics in high school, at least through pre-calculus.

Most mathematics majors begin with first or second semester calculus (Math 171 or 172) at WSU.

Campus organizations and activities

WSU has hundreds of student clubs and organizations, so whatever your academic interests or personal hobbies, you're bound to find someone here to share them with.

Several organizations and activities cater specifically to math majors. For instance:

  • Math Club (a support group for math students that sponsors speakers, films, and other activities)
  • The Washington State University national math modeling team
  • The national Putnam mathematics competition
Careers in mathematics

Mathematics graduates are in great demand. There is a nationwide shortage of qualified math teachers, a field that is pursued by about one-third of the University’s mathematics graduates. 

Additionally, WSU graduates in mathematics work as attorneys, computer analysts/programmers, software quality engineers, air traffic controllers, consulting actuaries, engineers, physicians, purchasing agents, systems programmers and analysts, technical aides, entrepreneurs, and in environmental consulting.

Career options are included in the detailed descriptions of the available math options in the Mathematics Guide for the Undergraduate for students.


Employment options for mathematicians are so broad that starting salaries vary widely.

Most new graduates with a bachelors’ degree are offered $30,000 to $35,000 per year (starting salaries can be higher in certain job fields).

If you continue on to earn a Ph.D., starting salaries increase to $41,000 to $50,000 per year.