Is a math minor useful (along with CS)?

Hey everyone. I’m going to be majoring in computer science at UMD starting this fall.

I’ve recently been wondering if I should do a math minor. I’m not particularly interested in math but I’m pretty good at it (aced the SAT, AP Calc, etc and have completed multi-var calc in high school).
The main reason I’m considering this is because I think (? not sure how true) that it’ll help me with future career prospects - doing something in addition to CS to differentiate myself from the million other CS grads.

So…. does my reasoning make sense? Is it useful to do a minor in math alongside CS? Would it be too hard?

I know that UMD has a top 20 CS program but I’m not sure how good they are with math and whether that makes any difference to my decision?

Thank you so much to anyone who’s taking the time to read all this. I really appreciate it.

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Computer science and mathematical thinking reinforce each other, and many careers involve skills from both of these areas. In your case, consider approaching a minor in math through eligible courses of greatest interest to you. You could then decide at a later time whether or not to complete the minor.


IRL the name of your major(s) and minor(s) is much less important than you might think- and happily this is a decision that you don’t have to make for a good while: you can declare a minor as late as fall semester senior year. For example, one of the collegekids was a physics major realized that she had already taken so much math that she was only short two math classes to have a minor, so she took them and declared the minor.

Treat the spaces in your schedule as the rare and valuable commodity that they are. Once you have filled in your required courses, add in ones that are genuinely interesting to you- whether in your major (or for CS, in your specialty area) or not. IF you find enough classes that you really enjoy and want to take to add up to a minor declare it then. Either way, ‘CS from UMd’ and ‘experience w/ X, Y and Z’ are what employers will hear!


Having additional math (as in a minor) is very useful in some CS specializations and will only strengthen your resume and options.


A Math minor is very useful to have. Taking the coursework is useful whether you formally get a minor or not. You can indicate it as such on your resume, saying you have significant coursework in Math.


Perhaps a Minor in Statistics or Business Analytics.

Maybe. It depends on whether you end up working in an area of CS that uses the additional math (and it also depends on which math courses you choose).

It also depends on what non-CS courses you would choose otherwise, and whether those could be relevant to the area of CS that you may end up working in.

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If you’re pursuing a more quantitative specialty in CS, it’s important that you take the math courses that are relevant and support the specialty, whether they lead to a math minor or not. Having taken the right math courses are much more meaningful than having the math minor itself.


Perhaps something like combinatorics, graph theory, probability, stats, linear algebra, game theory, and numerical methods, are a good set of areas, apart from the regular college calculus. And you can list these courses on your resume directly in compact form at some point if you are applying for jobs that care about math.


I agree with @collegemom3717 Minors don’t matter. In many cases, majors don’t either - dependent on the field.

I think you have a lot of math in CS or engineering, etc. so if it’s accessible to mnor, then why not.

My son has a minor of interest (geography) but also is going to do math - because it’s another class. Just one on top of his engineering. Will it change his life? No. Will employers care? No. Does it make him feel good - sure.

btw - UMD is very strong in math - especially at the graduate level.

Whether you minor in math or not, your prospects will remain the same.

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I did it the other way around, with a math major and taking a lot of courses in computer science (but with no official minor). To me having a CS major with a math minor makes sense. I would focus on applied math and make sure that you get at least one course in probability and statistics. Linear algebra and calculus / differential equations also seem important to me.

There are a lot of jobs in computer science. These jobs are not all the same. One question is: What sorts of CS jobs are you going to want down the road? Most likely at this point you have no idea. However, some CS jobs overlap quite a bit with math, and some do not. To me the ones that do overlap with math include some interesting jobs.

Also, there are a number of fields where it is useful to have a solid grounding in both computer science and mathematics. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and operations research are some that come to mind quite quickly. There are others.

I also found math to become more interesting once I got into more advanced math such as probability theory, algorithms in general, and particularly networking algorithms. You might discover the same thing.

I do agree with another answer that taking the courses and doing well in them is likely to be more important than the official minor. However, it makes sense to see what you need to do to get the official minor. If the requirements are not too onerous, and if you like the classes, then go for it!

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These courses should already be part of the core CS curriculum (because of their general relevance) for most good CS programs, so they probably can’t be double counted toward a math minor. What additional math courses OP should take depends on her/his chosen specialty.

They are touched upon in a regular CS curriculum, but may not be treated with any serious depth. You can choose to do them at depth.

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OP you are getting lots of good ideas/opinions/advice- but remember: right this minute, it is a parlor game. You do not have to decide anything- and there is so, so much that you don’t know that at this stage it only makes sense to take all of the different info that you are getting and store it away for future reference. Even if you think that you already know- really know- what direction you are going in CS, there are still decent odds that you will find yourself going in a different direction.

Follow your truest path- take classes, figure out what you really enjoy and take it from there.


I agree that what’s included in the CS curriculum is introductory in nature. Whether the OP should pursue theses subjects in greater depth depends on her/his CS specialty and/or interest, however.

Math as a minor is a great choice.


This does make me wonder about math classes intended for math majors versus math classes intended for computer science majors versus math classes intended for other majors. This is likely to differ from university to university and even from class to class.

Each student might want to ask their academic advisor about this.

Math majors can also do other things such as algebra, analysis, complex analysis, topology, geometry etc. But I was mentioning CS adjacent math.

Thank you so much everyone! Tons of super helpful advice here! I truly appreciate all your insights and guidance.

Sorry for not replying sooner. Been busy with finals this week.


You’ll be surprised how little math there is in tech. Most CS graduates end-up in IT jobs and spend an entire career never looking at a math problem. A math minor could certainly help you getting into a math-heavy computing job, but it’s not required. My personal recommendation…you’d be far better off taking coding classes as electives. Coming out of college knowing multiple programming languages would be worth its weight in gold.

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