What Kind of Math Courses Are Required For a Business Degree?

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For many aspiring business students, the most harrowing component of the entire experience is the math coursework. The business degree track requires students to take calculus, often a dreaded and difficult experience for many. However, the math requirements for business degrees do not end there. This leaves many prospective students at both the undergraduate and masters degree level wondering what courses and competencies they need in order to succeed. In order to fully understand the answer to this question, it is important to understand how college mathematics coursework is set up.

Undergraduate Calculus

The first mathematical hurdle that business degree candidates must overcome is the calculus requirement. Some students will have taken either a calculus or a pre-calculus class in their high school coursework. In most circumstances, that, along with sufficiently high scores on a mathematics entrance exam will allow the student to enroll in this calculus class. However, for students who did not take this coursework in high school or who are not familiar with the material, they must first complete a prerequisite course in college level algebra or trigonometry.

Some students who jump right into the calculus requirements are perfectly suited to do so. For others, this jump from high school level math into college level calculus is difficult to manage. Students who have not completed a significant amount of mathematics coursework should make it a point to take a prior college level math course or work with a tutor if required. It is important for students to be successful in this difficult math class.

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Undergraduate Statistics

Along with the calculus requirement, most business degree courses require additional study in statistics. Most programs use the statistics coursework as the bulk of their undergraduate math sequence. This is due to the fact that statistics are widely useful in business settings and are also a foundation of most business analytics applications.

Often, admittance into the statistics track requires a baseline achievement test score on the university’s mathematics screening exam. Otherwise, this coursework can begin after students have completed a prerequisite course at the college level. While statistics courses do not present the logistical issues that calculus often does, it is nevertheless important that business students take their preparation for these courses seriously.

Advanced Math Requirements for Specific Business Degrees

The previous mathematics requirements represent the basic requirements for the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degree tracks in business administration. However, specific business degrees can often require much more mathematics for completion than these basic requirements.

For example, most higher level finance degrees require advanced calculus courses and beyond. Therefore, undergraduate students in this area might choose to take higher mathematics courses to fulfill their elective requirements. Also, for hybrid degrees such as a mathematical economics degree, students should expect to take advanced mathematics at an early point in their studies. However, for most traditional business administration, accounting, human resource management and economics degrees, beginning calculus and statistics comprise the entirety of the math requirements.

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MBA Program Math Admission Requirements

When students choose to pursue a master’s degree in business administration, they do not always come from a business background. This means that some students will have experienced quite a bit of mathematics training in their undergraduate studies, while other students might not have met the minimum requirements for even an undergraduate business degree. This requires colleges to enforce prerequisite standards for mathematical exposure.

In most circumstances, this prerequisite standard is the completion of a calculus course at the college level and a similarly leveled statistics course. While a two course prerequisite does not sound particularly intimidating, it can cause problems for unprepared students. Since these courses must be completed at a college, and since most colleges have entrance requirements for calculus, problems can arise for some students.

In order to combat this, prospective students should consider taking a calculus course and a statistics course at a local community college if they did not do so in their undergraduate studies. However, it is important to take a good look at the prerequisite requirements and complete those in a timely fashion. Often, this level of math class is offered in an online format. That way, the student will not run into any issues when they apply for admission to an MBA program, and they will feel confident that they have the basic skills to succeed in their courses that require a mathematics background.

Math During an MBA Program

Most MBA programs offer elective specializations. Depending on what specialization area a student chooses, the math requirements will vary wildly. For example, a student who chooses to focus on finance or business analytics will encounter much more mathematics in their studies than one who focuses on leadership or business law.

Students are left, then, to assess their career goals and their facility with mathematics when choosing a specialization. With some programs, more undergraduate math exposure might be a good idea. For others, simply making it through undergraduate calculus will be enough in itself.

While students should not be intimidated by the mathematics requirements in both undergraduate and graduate degree programs, planning and preparation for math coursework is important. Otherwise, students could find themselves with a delay in their admission. Worse, they could find themselves unable to complete their coursework. Fortunately, a little planning and prior research can eliminate all of these problem. 

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