What is it like to study Applied Mathematics at Harvard?


Applied Mathematics seems to be one of the fastest growing majors at Harvard. What is it like to study Applied Math?


I concentrated (majored) in Applied Mathematics at Harvard.

Applied Math is one of the most flexible concentrations at Harvard because you have to complete approximately 9 courses in general applied mathematics classes stemming from areas like computation, probability and statistics, differential equations, analysis, algebra, optimization, discrete mathematics and modeling.

Most coursework is a combination of statistics, finance, math and computer science.

Applied Math concentrators have to choose an area to apply their math too - this is where things get interesting. You can choose from a wide range of fields with the most common being economics, physics and computer science but options include linguistics, government, music and decision theory.

The Applied Math degree doesn’t require concentrators to do a thesis as part of the degree but for high honors or higher it is required. I chose to do a thesis and thoroughly enjoyed it.

In general, Applied Math-Economics, is one of the most competitive concentrations in terms of successfully recruiting for finance, management consulting, hedge fund and private equity roles with a significant number of my peers wanting to go down these tracks.

Unlike most departments, Applied Math feels a little unstructured because you take classes from wide ranging faculty from various departments (although mostly from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences). In concentrations like English, concentrators to tend for more intimate faculty relationships on average although it is very doable to engage with professors on research and find good mentors within the department.

Applied Math doesn’t require a large amount of coding but you will end up using R, Stata and Matlab usually. These can be picked up without too much trouble and are valuable modeling tools.

I thoroughly enjoyed my applied math experience and felt that my coursework gave me a quantitative problem solving lens I can apply to a wide range of situations as well as providing a structure for me to delve into mathematical economics.