Discrete Mathematics Concentration

Prepare to Apply Math in the Real World

If you are interested in the real-world applications of numbers, discrete mathematics may be the concentration for you.

With a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Sciences plus a concentration in discrete mathematics from Michigan Tech, you might contribute to advances in computing or make a career of preventing hackers from stealing valuable data. Fields that rely on discrete mathematics include computer science and cryptography.

Because discrete mathematics is the language of computing, it complements the study of computer science. The deep understanding of discrete mathematics that you gain in this program will provide a basis for applications in computing, especially in areas such as algorithms, programming languages, automated theorem proving, and software development.

Cryptography is the making and breaking of cryptosystems, with the goal of securing or unlocking data. Cryptographers create cryptosystems using algorithms to encrypt sensitive data, keeping it safe from hackers; cryptoanalysts unravel existing cryptosystems, decoding information. The National Security Agency, which is the largest single employer of mathematicians, and other intelligence agencies rely on cryptologists to protect national security, and financial institutions entrust these professionals with the safekeeping of vital data.

Another application of discrete mathematics is optimization, which industries employ to minimize their costs or maximize their profit. For instance, an airline could use optimization to determine how to schedule its flight crews in the most efficient manner. Other applications include communication theory, especially the study of error-correcting codes, and information theory.

Your concentration could prepare you for graduate work in computer science and mathematics, as well as for other careers requiring particular strength in discrete mathematics.

What is Discrete Math?

Discrete math is one of the oldest branches of mathematics, with a direct line of descent from problems studied in the most ancient mathematical texts.  It includes number theory, the study of patterns in the whole numbers; graph theory, the study of structures and relations in sets; and abstract algebra and design theory, the study of symmetries.  It is a good field for someone who sees the beauty in mathematics.

Get The Most From Discrete Mathematics

Degree requirements in discrete mathematics are intentionally kept low to maximize the flexibility of the program. Contact your advisor to talk about your options and read these tips to help you prepare for your career.

Use Free Electives To Customize Your Education

Use your free electives wisely to get the strongest possible degree. Free electives allow you to pursue an area of interest. Some options to consider:

  • You are strongly encouraged to complete a minor in computer science
  • It is also a good idea to complete a minor in a collateral field that has discrete mathematics connections, such as electrical engineering, chemistry, or biology.
  • Considering graduate school? You should take MA 4450 Real Analysis.
  • It may be also beneficial to acquire a knowledge of the basic concepts of statistics related to discrete mathematics. You could take MA 3720 Probability and MA 4720 Design and Analysis of Experiments, for example.

Speak to your advisor about the best way to use your free credits.

Get Summer Research Experience

There are many summer undergraduate research opportunities to explore. Besides gaining experience, participation in undergraduate research is a great way to decide if you want to go to graduate school (and it looks great on a graduate school application)! Consider:

Complete an Internship or Participate in Enterprise

If you are planning to enter the workforce upon graduation, you will be more marketable if you do an internship or participate in Enterprise. For information about internships, contact University Career Services or your advisor.

Join a Professional Organization

Professional organizations offer learning and networking opportunities. The premier professional organization for discrete mathematicians is the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). Plus SIAM sponsors an annual conference on discrete mathematics. Michigan Tech students can join SIAM for free. Other professional organizations include:

Consult Other Online Resources

Some relevant online information about combinatorial mathematics, graph theory, and general discrete mathematics can be found at The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics and World Combinatorics Exchange.


In addition to your core mathematics degree requirements, the following courses are required to complete your concentration in applied and computational mathematics:

Core Requirements

You must complete each of the following 12 credits:

Additional 6 Credit Requirement

You must complete two of the following:

Tomorrow Needs Discrete Mathematicians With Strong Algorithmic Skills

In a world built almost entirely on discrete math, e.g. graph theory and combinatorics, your knowledge will be valuable across many disciplines: algorithms, cryptography, data structures, and more. You’ll develop and exercise skills crucial to solving complex problems, designing efficient algorithms, and optimizing systems. You’ll be prepared for success in computer science, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and data analysis. Your concentration in discrete mathematics is a pathway to a challenging, successful, and rewarding career.

Career Opportunities

Your future career options are unlimited with a degree in mathematics with a concentration in discrete mathematics. Career opportunities include:

  • Computer Modeling Specialist
  • Computer Scientist
  • Consultant
  • Cyber Security Analyst
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Scientist
  • Industrial Research and Development Specialist
  • Mathematician
  • Operations Research Analyst
  • Quantitative Research Analyst
  • Research Scientist
  • Simulation and Software Developer

Get Hired By

These are just some of the companies hiring mathematics majors with a concentration in discrete mathematics:

  • BTS Software Solutions
  • Canis Life Sciences
  • Capital One
  • HRL Laboratories
  • National Security Agency
  • Oracle
  • PepsiCo
  • Securian Financial

Pursue a Graduate Degree

These are just some of the graduate schools admitting Michigan Tech mathematics majors with a concentration in discrete mathematics:

  • Auburn University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Ottawa

American Mathematical Society Careers

Ready to take the next step?

Learn more about studying Discrete Mathematics at Michigan's flagship technological university.

"The concentration in discrete math is very small compared to the other degree programs at Tech, giving me more opportunities to get to know the students and professors. I am taking classes that I like, meeting new people, and experiencing new things, which will benefit me wherever I end up."McCoy Ziehl '26, BS Mathematics (Discrete Mathematics Concentration)

Study Discrete Mathematics at a Technological University

Gain exposure to mathematics and computation with special emphasis on discrete mathematics and its application to algorithm design and optimization.

  • Customize Your Education: The concentration in discrete mathematics provides you with plenty of free credits to pursue minors to give you the specialization you want, like computer science.
  • Get personalized attention: Our smaller department ensures your academic advisors and professors know you and understand your interests and needs. You can receive the guidance you need in a timely fashion.

Undergraduate Concentrations in Mathematics

Not sure which concentration is the right fit? No problem.
Speak to an academic advisor.

Undergraduate Advising

A positive and productive advising relationship is a key component of your success at Michigan Tech. You and your academic advisor will develop your academic plan, and your advisor will help you follow and complete your plan to ensure your success at Michigan Tech.

Tomorrow Needs You

As computing technology advances at ever-increasing speed, the ability to secure data and systems becomes more complex and urgent. Professionals knowledgeable in algorithms, cryptography, data structures, and optimization are essential and highly valued. Become an algorithm and optimization professional who is ready for what tomorrow needs.

"Thanks to the concentration in discrete mathematics, I learned to embrace its unique challenges whose secrets were revealed, resulting in transformative connections and shaping character. The program helped sow the seeds of discovery, provided mentorship, and helped build the potential to craft my academic legacy, ultimately helping me to become the person I'm meant to be. I now see the meaning of the beauty in math."Mason Moran '25, mathematics with a discrete mathematics concentration