While math certainly has a place in business activities, you don’t have to love advanced mathematics to make a good business professional. Generally, the math coursework required to attain a business degree is on the simpler side, though it is college-level. Much of the math-related courses in an undergraduate business degree program has more in common with basic arithmetic and working with decimals and percentages than with advanced mathematical theories.
Required Math Courses in Undergraduate Business Programs
To earn your business degree, you need to take more than business classes. Your college or university will include its own set of requirements drawn from all fields of study. These general education courses apply to students in all majors, and they usually include one or two math classes, even if your major does not require math coursework. Many undergraduate business programs require a course in business calculus or the introductory course Calculus I. A business statistics class can be valuable in teaching analytical and quantitative skills to prospective business and finance professionals.
While math skills do matter, they are far from the most important skills for business administration students. Your ability to analyze numbers and interpret quantitative data to make sound business decisions is the key math skill you need to succeed in the business world.
Economics, which business students typically study at both the micro and macro levels, can include a mathematical component.
The Most Math-Intensive Business Specializations
Certain business majors and specializations will require more math than others. If you choose a general business program of study, you may need no further math coursework beyond meeting your general education requirements. On the other hand, business disciplines like finance and accounting are what The Washington Post refers to as “math-focused” business majors. The coursework in these programs involves more in-depth quantitative analysis and manipulation of numbers. For students who find that they enjoy the math side of business more than they expected, some colleges and universities offer an interdisciplinary mathematical business major that combines the two fields of study.
Accounting is the study of financial reporting. Generally, students of accounting use basic mathematical functions, such as addition, subtraction and multiplication, to complete this work. High-level mathematical equations are typically not required, and much of the math that accountants do involve a calculator, spreadsheet or accounting computer software program. In fact, many of the most in-demand accounting skills have little to do with your math knowledge. However, the accounting field does draw from mathematical models to some degree, so it is still important to work hard in the math courses you do take as part of an accounting curriculum.
Finance students, too, spend more time working with numbers. Additional coursework in business analytics and higher-level statistics and calculus coursework may be part of the curriculum. Finance courses such as asset management involve quantitative techniques for managing data. To pass these courses, you may need familiarity with matrix algebra, linear regressions and the concepts and practices of intermediate calculus.
While math-focused business majors have rigorous curricula than their peers in general business, there are benefits of these math-heavy programs, including higher wages and lower rates of unemployment and underemployment, The Washington Post reported.
Math Requirements at the Graduate Level
Do you plan to go to graduate school at some point during your business career? If so, then it is important to factor into your undergraduate course selection the math skills you would need to earn your Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.
The math coursework in an MBA program typically includes accounting, quantitative methods, business economics and financial markets. These graduate-level programs might sound quite technical, but remember, the purpose of attaining your MBA is to be able to use this information in the business world. Even the math-heavy coursework of an MBA degree focuses on practical applications, like analyzing data for the purpose of informing your business decisions, rather than on abstract theory. As with undergraduate business programs, a specialization that is more quantitative in nature, like accounting or finance, will test your math skills more than a major in leadership or human resources.
Of course, the first step to earning your MBA is getting accepted into a graduate business program. Your math skills must be strong enough to perform well on the GMAT or GRE graduate exams, since many MBA programs consider this score as part of your application.