Earn a Ph.D. in Math at College of Charleston

The institution you know as College of Charleston has truly become a university. The school has enrolled its first doctoral student – in the math department. Lauren Tubbs, who has two undergraduate degrees from the College and a master’s in math, last Fall became the first Ph.D. student in the new Mathematics with Computation doctoral program.

The program launched in 2023 to provide math graduates with an opportunity to do original research under the supervision of a faculty member who is expert in that specialty. “The doctoral degree indicates you can work on a problem that has no known answer and can solve or make significant new contributions in that area,” explained Dr. Elizabeth Jurisich, chair of the math department.

Focus on Research in Ph.D.

A PhD in Math is more research-intensive and focused on historical and current perspectives within the mathematics field. Master’s degrees focus more on applying math to business problems. Master’s degrees are generally required for jobs as statisticians while doctorates are required  for college and graduate school professor jobs.

College of Charleston has long boasted a respected undergraduate and graduate math department, with numerous sub-specialty experts on the faculty. Establishment of the doctoral program was spurred by student demand and requests from local high-tech industry. Jurisich expects mathematicians at places like Boeing, Bosch, Volvo and Blackbaud will enter the Ph.D. program in the future.

Great Job Opportunities for Math Grads

A Ph.D. in math can be the springboard to coveted skills in the job market. With this terminal degree, graduates can work in academia, government, IT, finance and computer fields. Mathematicians with master’s degrees earn an average of $85,000 annually, according to Payscale, and $110,000 with a doctorate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts demand for mathematicians will increase five times as fast as the rest of the economy by 2028.

Tubbs is focusing her research on number theory, a field of math that studies natural numbers that would be familiar to everyone.  “It asks questions like, ‘which primes can be expressed as the sum of two squares?’ or ‘can you add two perfect cubes and get another perfect cube?’” she told The College Today. “I love that it involves these very simple problems that often have a long classical history, and yet, to solve them, an immense amount of algebra, analysis and geometry had to be developed and combined over centuries.”

Number theory is valuable in encryption and fraud detection, which are important elements of the computer and banking industries, just to name two.

Flexible Scheduling and Attentive Instructors

Scheduling for both the master’s and Ph.D. degrees is flexible, with late afternoon and evening courses available to full- and part-time students. This allows students to embark on their graduate studies without pausing their careers. 

Tubbs expects to complete her doctorate in three years, with two years of didactic study and a year researching and writing her dissertation. She is juggling being mother to a two-year-old girl with teaching duties and her studies.

She says College of Charleston is the perfect fit for her. “I will have the opportunity to do research, give talks, attend conferences and workshops, (and) meet other people who are fascinated by the same things I am.”

Applications for the summer semester are due April 1, and for the Fall semester July 15.