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Are there any real online mathematics (applied math, statistics, ...) degree programs out there?

I'm full-time employed, thus not having the flexibility of attending an on campus program. I also already have a MSc in Computer Science. My motivation for a math degree is that I like learning and am interested in the subject. I've studied through number of OCW courses on my own, but it would be nice if I could actually be able to have my studying count towards something.

I've done my share of Googling for this, but searching for online degrees seems to bring up a lot of institutions that (at least superficially) seem a bit shady (diploma mills?).

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Community wiki? – Akhil Mathew Jul 26 '10 at 22:28
Do you have an Open University in your country? It's not online, but you can keep studying at home and only show up for tests, at least over here (that's how I got my B.A. in Computer Science). – Edan Maor Jul 26 '10 at 22:49
This topic (non-math specific) was also discussed on Slashdot today. – Larry Wang Jul 27 '10 at 11:00
Why do you say that OCW courses don't count? Your stated motivation is to learn and that you enjoy it. – isomorphismes Jul 1 '11 at 22:58
Do you live in an area that has good community or state colleges? Oftentimes they hold classes in the evenings for students that work full-time. – Michael Chen Jul 1 '11 at 23:51

For my experience, the Open University is well-respected internationally.

[Note this is different to Open Universities, such as this in Australia, which is a collaboration of several universities.]

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I agree. Some of my foreign friends are aware of it and one, an Italian, even considered doing an Engineering degree with the OU but decided the cost was too prohibitive and is now doing the degree at his local university in Italy. – Derek Jennings Oct 24 '10 at 9:53
I know several friends who have done OU degrees and, while not as well respected as the top 50 or so universities in the UK, it is certainly the best of the online universities. – Chris Taylor Sep 8 '11 at 14:19
Open university will only allow individuals who live in the UK. Any other suggestions, as that is the place one of my old university professors suggested? – user38691 Aug 25 '12 at 7:18
I'd rate anyone doing an OU degree while holding down a job as a remarkable, resilient person with a unique work ethic – user10389 Dec 15 '12 at 3:25
There is a PhD student in my uni who got her undergrad maths degree at the Open University while working in Spain. They then did a Masters in Oxford and are now, as I said, doing a PhD. – user1729 Aug 1 '13 at 18:54

I would recommend against getting a degree from any online-only university. Even if you happen to find one that's not shady, everyone else who hasn't heard of it will assume it is some kind of diploma mill without bothering to do much research. Instead, I think you'd be better off going to a nearby university you're interested in, and ask them if they would be willing to make some kind of special arrangement for you. Many universities allow reduced course loads for students that have families or work full time, and aren't very good about advertising it.

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The University of Washington offers an online masters degree. Their brick-and-mortar programme might make the online diploma more credible.

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The Rochester Institute of Technology offers a MS in applied statistics that is completely online (I think, I'm not enrolled yet.)

It's pretty expensive, since it combines the increased out-of-state tuition with the extra online cost. However an online degree such as this is good for working professionals who

1) Can't take classes during the day and 2) Can get their employer to pay for most of the degree.

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Did you ever end up doing that RIT program? – tilper Jun 6 at 20:22

From what I've read, many universities will not make a distinction on the degree stating whether it was earned online or not.

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I don't know if you're still looking, but I found this page in my own search for an online math program.

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I know this post is very old but I'd like to contribute my likely-too-late response in case it'll help someone else in the future. Plus I'm in a similar position so I have a few relevant things to say, and I'm sure the landscape has changed significantly since 2010.

First, I see in the comment thread on the question that you were planning on a bachelor's with a potential future interest in a graduate degree. Since you already have the MSc in comp sci and a clear interest in math then I imagine you have at least a decent math background. Getting a bachelor's might not be the best idea, especially if you end up being unable to transfer a lot of previously earned credits. If ultimately you're wanting to pursue a graduate degree then I'd recommend at least trying to start with a graduate program. It's possible you'd need to take some prerequisite courses but surely this would be better than going through an entire bachelor's program again. But if you're thinking a bachelor's is all you want then by all means go for it.

I completely understand the feeling of wanting to pursue a degree rather than just self-studying, because I feel the same way and I'm in the same position as you right now. I do a lot of self-studying and it is certainly enjoyable and fulfilling. But I share the feeling of wanting to have something to show for it, even if that doesn't mean anything to anybody else. At the very least, having that degree is a mark of completion. And with that mark comes that sense of satisfaction from having successfully completed something challenging. And for me, that's all the motivation I need. It shows that you individually put yourself on a difficult path and successfully navigated through it. What would successful completion of an independent study even be? Finish reading the book? Work every problem in the book? Correctly work every problem in the book? Yes, we can all try to do this navigation with independent studying but there's no accountability there and no clear definition of successful completion. If you fail at independently studying something (e.g., gave up halfway through, or finished the book and learned nothing, etc.) then no one ever needs to know you tried. If you fail out of a graduate program then it's quite the blemish on your record and could be difficult/impossible to hide. My opinion is that pursuing an actual degree, especially if it's just for fun, shows a level of dedication higher than independent studying. Some may wonder what's the point of showing this level of dedication, especially if it's a just-for-fun pursuit. I address this in the next paragraph.

As I mentioned, I'm currently in a similar position. I have two bachelor's (math and computer science) and two master's (math and applied math) degrees and I've been tossing around the idea of getting more graduate degrees, possibly in statistics, computer science, electrical engineering, and even more in math. Some may (and some already did) scoff and condescendingly tell me the degrees are useless, I'm wasting my time, etc. Depending on their level of derision, to them I would say something to the effect of, "Cry me a river! I'm not living my life for you and I'm not obligated to make decisions about my life based on what's appropriate for your own personal world view." It really surprises me how many people there are who can't comprehend the idea of another person following pursuits and interests that don't line up with their own. Also, who's to say the degree is completely useless? We don't know what the future holds. Maybe you'll find during your studies that you enjoy it more than you ever thought you would, and you want to make a career change. Maybe you won't want to make a career change but at some point you unexpectedly find yourself in a situation where you need a new job in the same field. Having pursued a graduate degree from a respectable institution (i.e., not a diploma mill and preferably a regionally accredited school if in the U.S.) while holding down a full-time job should look great to any prospective employer. And as long as you left your old job on good terms, why shouldn't it look great? Sure, independently studying while working full time is also challenging and rewarding, but anyone can say they independently studied something, and even if they did we come back to the issue of how to measure success with independent studying.

A more legitimate question I get is, "Why get more math degrees?" And my answer to that is (1) because I love it and I want to, (2) different schools have different programs and curricula, so doing the same degree at different places doesn't mean I'm doing all of the same courses over and over again, and (3) I have been contemplating pursuing a PhD and I believe I've been out of formal academia too long for that to be possible otherwise.

I'll put the soap box away and go get the list of online programs in math that I've found.

Links are valid as of June 6, 2016. In no particular order:

  • The Open University, based in the UK. As of the time I write this, they take online students overseas and they're actually regionally accredited in the USA. I may be mistaken but I believe this program doesn't require recommendation letters. That could be helpful for people who have been out of academia for a while.
  • Applied math at Columbia if you've got that kind of cash.
  • Texas A&M. This one has a few options. There's "traditional" which I guess is like a standard pure math sequence, and I think recently they also put their computational track and math for teachers track online.
  • University of Washington.
  • Emporia State University. I believe this program also doesn't require recommendation letters.
  • University of Houston MA in math.
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. If I understood correctly, UT Brownsville "merged" into this school and this program is what Brownsville's was.
  • University of West Florida.
  • Johns Hopkins University Engineering for Professionals. As of the time I write this, they have an Applied and Computational Mathematics program which they are currently trying to get approved for an entirely online path to completion. In the meantime there are various other math-intensive programs entirely online.
  • University of Idaho MA in Teaching that's focused on math.

Updating this post to also include statistics programs, again in no particular order. Links are valid as of June 6, 2016.

I haven't looked for statistics programs as thoroughly as I did with math programs so I'm sure there are at least a few others out there that aren't from online-only schools.

I should also point out that a lot of these schools, and many others not listed here, also have certificate programs which usually have more lax entry requirements. Most of these certificate programs don't require letters of recommendation. This is a good way to get back into academia if you've been gone for a while but need letters to get into the program of your choice. A lot of schools (like Texas A&M as of the time I write this) will also allow people to take courses as a non-degree student and you can even transfer a certain amount of credits if you get accepted into a degree program later.

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'Are there any real online mathematics (applied math, statistics, ...) degree programs out there?' That's real as opposed to imaginary, right? Heh, heh. :)

No, but seriously, I think you should just pursue your interests privately, without worrying about getting more pieces of paper than you need- your MSc is already proof of your academic proficiency and ability to complete challenging assignments correctly.

I reckon most employers, and other people, would be convinced that you take your maths hobby seriously and study it as carefully as you studied for your MSc.

I am also studying mathematics as a solo enthusiast and I just show people some of the proofs I am studying that week, if they are interested in finding out more. I am sure that's what the likes of Ramanujan would have done, so that'll do for me too!

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I agree with this to a large extent. You already have an Msc. Instead of getting another degree you could convince people via the knowledge you can display. otoh I myself do not have that piece of paper (only bachelor's ) and thus was hoping for a good answer to this question . Sad day. – javadba Apr 6 at 2:23

Southern New Hampshire Unviersity offers a BA in Math both on campus and online. This is a traditional, not-for-profit university.

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