College Overview: Arts & Sciences (Natural & Mathematical Sciences)


Do you love math and science? Are you always
asking why things work the way they do? Do you enjoy tinkering and experimenting? Do
you thrive on discovery? If so, the Natural & Mathematical Science majors in the College
of Arts & Sciences might be the place for you. These majors involve a rigorous theoretical
and mathematical background, and most combine this with hands-on lab work, collaboration,
and experimentation. First, let’s take a look at the majors in the mathematical side: Mathematics,
Actuarial Science, Computer & Information Science, and Data Analytics. These math-based
majors give students a quantitative foundation from which to understand the world around
them. The Mathematics major establishes a substantial
mathematics core, then branches into five different specialization tracks which allow
you to focus on acquiring the mathematical tools needed to tackle certain types of problems.
The Traditional track is the most flexible focus area, giving you a strong foundation
in classical math. The Applied Math track teaches you how to apply mathematical reasoning
to the physical sciences, particularly chemistry and physics. There is an Education Track for
students who plan on teaching math at the high school level (keep in mind a Master’s
is required for teacher licensure with this track). The Financial Math track prepares
you to perform in-depth numerical analysis of the financial market and understand how
that data can be useful in making business decisions. The last track is the Biomath track,
which teaches you how to use mathematics and modeling in the biological sciences.
Another major that requires strong math skills is Actuarial Science, the study of risk. Actuarial
Science introduces you to the mathematical and statistical foundation of all types of
insurance, pension, and benefit plans, as well as all the government regulations that
impact how those services are offered. Actuarial Science students take advanced math and statistics
courses, as well as some general business classes in economics, finance, and accounting.
To become an actuary, you must pass a series of actuarial exams. The Actuarial Science
curriculum is specifically geared towards preparing you to take up to five exams before
receiving your undergraduate degree, creating a competitive advantage in the job search.
A minimum OSU GPA of 3.0 is required to declare the major, along with certain prerequisite
courses. The Computer and Information Science major
provides you with the skills to become a software developer. The core of this major is similar
to the Computer Science and Engineering major in the College of Engineering, but, instead
of taking Engineering courses, CIS majors follow the broader and more rigorous Arts
& Sciences General Education requirement. CIS students learn fundamentals of computer
programming and computing languages, as well as how they can be applied to various fields,
such as graphics and animation, information systems, software development, and artificial
intelligence. Data Analytics is an interdisciplinary major
shared between the Department of Statistics and the Department of Computer Science and
Engineering. Data Analytics majors learn how to extract meaningful information from huge
datasets. Practitioners in this rapidly growing field have expertise that cuts across core
disciplines of computer science, mathematics and statistics, as well as critical thinking,
problem-solving and communication skills. Data Analytics offers three specializations:
Biomedical Informatics, Business Analytics, and Computational Analytics. Admission to
the program is competitive and based on academic performance as well as programming experience. Now let’s look at the Arts & Sciences majors
in the Natural Sciences. These can be roughly divided into two categories: Biological and
Physical. All majors in the biological sciences involve substantial lab work and focus on
the study of how the organisms in our world live, reproduce, and interact with their environment.
The Biology major is the most general biological science major, covering topics like growth,
reproduction, cellular structure, genetics, and biochemistry. Students can choose to focus
their studies in Forensic Biology, Life Science Education (if they want to teach the biological
sciences), or Pre-Health (if they plan to go on to a health profession like dentistry,
medicine, or optometry). The Evolution & Ecology major examines the
processes that contribute to evolutionary change, including natural selection, genetic
drift, and environmental factors. This knowledge can then be used in conservation efforts as
well as the study of modern problems like antibiotic resistance.
If you’re interested in microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, you might
be find a good fit in the Microbiology major. Microorganisms play a large role in the development
of medicines, food, and industrial chemicals. Students will learn about genetics, reproduction,
cellular structure, and survival strategies. If you’re interested in genetics and the relationship
between genes, traits, and reproduction, Molecular Genetics could be a good choice. Students
will learn how genes impact how an organism develops and functions, as well as how other
external factors, such as disease, impact organisms with different genes.
Zoology is a biological science major that focuses more specifically on animals. Students
in this major learn about a wide variety of animals, from simple mollusks to more complex
animals. Students take courses related to all animal groups, including invertebrates,
fish, birds, and mammals. The zoology major can prepare students for graduate school in
many areas in the biological sciences, health sciences, or education. Students can also
become a biological research technician in the public or private sector, or perform environmental
assessments for businesses, non-profits, or government organizations. All of the biology based majors can prepare
students for future careers in lab research or fieldwork, in professions such as dentistry
or medicine, or in other biological-science-based industries, such as environmental consulting
and pharmaceutical sales. The physical sciences study the laws and physical
systems that govern the universe and the planet on which we live.
The Biochemistry major straddles the physical and biological sciences, combining elements
of biology with chemistry. Biochemistry majors study the chemical processes that are foundational
to the existence of life, ranging from the absorption of medicines by the body to gene
expression. Biochemistry also provides a solid foundation for research or careers in biomechanics,
medical technology, biotechnology, and agriculture. The Chemistry major examines the composition,
structure, properties, and reactions of matter. Chemistry has a huge range of applications,
including in plastics, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology.
Both Chemistry and Biochemistry involve a rigorous math curriculum. The core chemistry
requirements of both majors overlap considerably with those of many pre-professional health
programs, so either could be an appropriate choice of major if you’re interested in health
professions. The Physics major could be a great choice
if you’re interested in studying the most fundamental nature of physical reality. Physics
seeks explanations for the behavior of matter, from everyday observations about how a ball
moves through the air or how bubbles form in water to the most ground-breaking observations
of the Large Hadron Collider. If you are interested in outer space, the
origins of the universe, the search for extraterrestrial life, or the behavior of planets, stars, and
interstellar bodies, then you might like a major in Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Both Physics and Astronomy & Astrophysics are heavily based in math and physics, and
students pursuing these majors must develop advanced quantitative reasoning skills. If
you’re drawn to both of these areas at once, OSU offers a pre-defined Physics & Astrophysics
double-major that might be worth considering. If you are more interested in the structure
of our own planet rather than other ones, then you might be interested in our Earth
Science major. Earth Science majors study planet Earth’s physical systems and natural
history. They take courses covering subjects such as geology, energy, oceanography, petrology,
mineralogy, and more. Graduates can go on to work in the petroleum industry, mining,
and environmental consulting. In terms of career preparation, Natural and
Mathematical Science majors develop skills in critical thinking, scientific reasoning,
and scientific literacy, and many of them develop teamwork and leadership through hands-on
collaborative lab work or fieldwork. The College of Arts and Sciences’ career services office,
FutureLink, provides Arts & Sciences majors with career development advice and connects
them to internships and job opportunities. Students can look at courses in Quantitative
and Logical Skills and Natural Sciences General Education categories to explore any of these
majors. You can find more detailed recommendations using the Freshman GE Guide and the Courses
to Explore Majors Guide available at go.osu.edu/LoveYourClasses. For more information about Natural & Mathematical
Science majors or to declare a major, call 614-292-6961 or stop by the Arts & Sciences
Advising office in 100 Denney Hall. As always, you are welcome to meet with any advisor in
University Exploration if you have follow-up questions. You can schedule an appointment
by calling 614-292-0646 or stopping by our office in 352 Denney Hall.