How Do I Become a Math Professor?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2017
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A math professor is an individual who teaches mathematics in a college or university setting and who may also conduct mathematical research. One who wants to become a math professor generally begins seriously studying mathematics as early as high school. In college, he should major in mathematics or in a highly mathematical field such as economics. Graduate-level study of mathematics is usually required for one who wants to become a math professor. Original mathematics research either in pure mathematics or in related fields such as economics or computer science can also greatly increase one's chances at finding work as a math professor.

The aspiring math professor should strive to excel in all classes during high school. Mathematics classes are particularly important, so anyone wanting to become a math professor should try to take all available advanced math classes. If few such classes are available, it may be valuable to look for further classes online or at nearby colleges. Though not strictly necessary, taking mathematics classes through introductory calculus can be very beneficial for a student who wants to become a math professor. A transcript showing good grades and challenging courses should make it relatively easy for the aspiring math professor to get into a good college.

College is highly important for the student who wants to become a math professor. Such students should major in mathematics or in mathematically-intensive fields such as economics or computer science. It is important to do well in such classes, as good grades are often necessary for getting into good graduate programs.

Classes are not the only opportunities offered in college. A student who wants to become a math professor should use college as an opportunity to meet professors and researchers. Building connections can be at least as important as taking classes for securing work later in life. Looking for opportunities such as research assistant positions or internships in fields of interest can also be very valuable.

After college, a student must attend graduate school to become a math professor. Graduate school generally involves high-level mathematics classes and the opportunity to conduct and present original mathematical work under the guidance of a mentor. Students also tend to get the opportunity to instruct undergraduate students as a primary instructor, tutor, or professor's assistant during graduate school. As in college, building professional connections is highly important. Toward the end of graduate school, one can and should start looking for professional assistant or full professorial positions at universities.


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