Which is the best business/math/data college and career path?

My D22 has an interest in business, more specifically in accounting or data analytics and possibly supply chain management.

She likes math and statistics, but with practical application, not the highly theoretical.

At first, she considered majoring in applied math or stats, but realized a lot of the programs are geared toward applications in engineering and computer science. She would be more interested in statistical modeling/data science for business, government, or nonprofits. She likes to solve problems but she doesn’t LOVE programming.

When preparing her applications, she ultimately decided to pursue undergrad degrees in business/accounting at most schools, rather than math.

Here are three options she is now considering and her non-business-major parents would like advice on the smartest path in terms of landing a job in her areas of interest and getting the most bang for educational buck:

  1. Enroll in a 3+1 program in Accounting, which would give her a Master’s in Accounting and qualify her to take the CPA exam after 4 years. Out-of-state tuition with decent merit.

I have read on several threads here that it is better to work after undergrad for a few years, THEN go get your MBA if you want to pursue a business career. But she could still do that even if she has the accounting master’s first, right?

  1. Major in business administration at a top 20 undergrad business school (in-state tuition), minor in statistics, get a job, and return for MBA down the road.

  2. Major in math and economics at a private small liberal arts college, then ??? I feel like the LAC sets her up to go straight to grad school, so it could be harder to land a job, but I guess the best path would be to get some stats-oriented job and then seek an MBA after a few years. This is the spendiest option, but some employers might like the critical thinking skills/breadth of a liberal arts education and it could provide versatility if she changes her mind on career path.

I dunno. Reactions? Thoughts? Advice? Experience?

I don’t think your D needs to identify her 23 year old self right now…

Accounting is a pretty specific career path and is surprisingly “light” on actual math. More like arithmetic. There are branches of an accounting career which are broader- she could work for the SEC, become a forensic accountant, etc. but the early years have a defined path. She’ll either like it or not. If she hasn’t had a lot of exposure to real world accountants and what they do, the 3/1 path might be a little constricting for now.

Without knowing which liberal arts college you are talking about, it’s hard to say if she’d be set up for grad school or for the work world. Swarthmore for example- their students “punch above their weight” in recruiting for ALL types of corporate jobs. She could major in history, have a couple of quantitatively oriented classes, and be just as well set as someone majoring in business. Some LAC’s have fantastic career development operations- so it’s not hard to find a job at all- and some don’t. Depends on the college here.

Based on what you’ve said, your D might want to consider going “broad” instead of narrow for now. Maybe she’ll fall in love with epidemiology (modeling disease trajectory? Developing protocols for new drug development?) which has both commercial (pharma company) and government applications. Maybe she’ll fall in love with agronomy- a VERY hot topic these days given the issues around climate change and the food supply… so she’d take her math/data skills into the food/ag industry, or work for the UN figuring out how to optimize crop yields with less water/warmer temperatures? She could develop a passion for urban planning, and use her skills to figure out better/less carbon intensive transportation alternatives, or be part of a data team comparing quality of life in different cities and then reverse engineering housing patterns.

Or just a clear use of data modeling skills- what factors contribute to healthy aging and how do we promote those elements- that has applicability for government, private industry, think tanks, foundations, hospitals, etc.

She’ll likely have ten more interests to balance once she’s in college…

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So for slightly more mathy kid look at actuarial sciences.

At Michigan this school is very hot now🔥… Graduate students I have talked with love this school. Think you start the programs as a junior then graduate if you want it. Many different options and other schools might call it something different.

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Definitely better to get MBA later if it’s even necessary. Top undergrad business schools have closed the gap on needing an MBA.

If she’s comfortable majoring in math, Industrial Engineering might be a good path. Look at Georgia Tech’s ISyE program. S20 is there now and is considering data analytics.

If you stick to business route you really need to see how the program is structured. Is the math and CS part integrated into the business school or separate? Would you need to cross schools to double major.

I’m in big data and I’d reconsider majoring specifically in data analytics. Too new and no consistency between schools. If I’m interviewing I know what a BS in math or BS in Accounting requires. Not so sure about a BS in Data Analytics. How much math,CS, or business is unknown. Some of the best analysts are Physics majors.

I also liked Fox business at Temple. They had analytics and stats integrated into the business school. I think data analytics was a concentration in Accounting.


If she’s interested in public policy a double major in Economics and Math/Stats would serve her well. It also wouldn’t hold her back in the private sector. I know from experience. Good luck.

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Since it was mentioned Industrial engineering is what I call Business engineering. My son just graduated from Michigan in it. Many end up in Management so nice suggestion.

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