Studying Math: How Does Online Differ From a Traditional Setting?

Mathematician 07 Apr , 2019

Math degrees are available both online and at traditional brick and mortar colleges. While you’ll get a quality education in both cases, there are several differences between these kind of learning programs. Exploring these differences can help you choose the type of math education that’s right for you.


At a both online and traditional colleges, you’ll take math classes as well as liberal arts classes in areas like science, English, and art. At a traditional college, you’ll schedule your classes throughout the week, with most becoming offered between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM on either a Monday-Wednesday-Friday basis or a Tuesday-Thursday basis. Sometimes, colleges also offer night classes, though this is rare.

Online colleges operate a little differently. In many cases, you don’t have to attend classes on a schedule, but rather, you can do the work whenever it is convenient for you. Scheduling is much more flexible, so online school is a great option for parents and those who have full-time jobs.

Professor and Classmate Interaction

Online colleges do allow you to interact with professors and classmate, though because these interactions are virtual, you’ll have to be more responsible about independent study. Take advantage of the online tools available to you like chatrooms and email, but be prepared to do a lot of research and reading on your own time since you won’t be able to study with classmates or ask questions during lectures – at least, not in the traditional way.

However, you might want to consider asking your classmates if they live in the area. Perhaps you can start a study group at a local coffee shop. If you’re flying solo, why not start a study group with local math majors? This way you still interact with other students just like you would in a traditional classroom.

Some online schools offer clubs, albeit virtual, but social nonetheless. Online clubs connect you with other students who share similar interests.


Both online and traditional colleges allow you to use college scholarships and grants to help pay for school. Simply make sure whatever college you attend is accredited and you’ll be good to go. However, keep in mind that the overall cost of online colleges is typically slightly lower. This shouldn’t be the defining factor when you choose a math program, but it is a consideration.

When it comes to cost, just remember a few things…

  1. What does tuition cover?
  2. What additional fees will you be charged, if any?
  3. Is there financial aid available?
  4. Are scholarships and grants awarded to qualifying students?
  5. What happens if you change majors?
  6. What is your cost of living? Can you afford both tuition and rent/mortgage?

Before you make a decision on where to attend, make sure you can afford it by doing the math. It’ll be good practice for your first accounting course. Set up a budget and crunch some numbers to make it work.

Opportunities Outside of Class

At a traditional college, you’ll have access to clubs and activities, libraries, gym facilities, dorms and other residential facilities, student centers, and more. Online colleges don’t have quite as many of these outside opportunities, which helps to account for lower cost, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any non-academic opportunities for students at all. Every online college is different, so do you research to find the best online college for you.

Popular Online Math Degrees

Concordia University at Portland — The MEd in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Mathematics from Concordia University at Portland is geared for students with a passion for quantitative analytics, statistics, and teaching. The online program requires the completion of 45 units and can be completed in two years. Admission criteria include your GPA, evidence of work experience, past quantitative coursework, and the GMAT exam.
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Southern New Hampshire University — For those who wish to earn a specialized MBA, Southern New Hampshire University offers its tailored MBA in Quantitative Analysis. The program teaches students how to effectively understand data and apply that knowledge to business scenarios.
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Click to see even more online math programs.