Online PhD in Statistics: Program Overviews

Find out about online statistics courses and in which master's or doctoral programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

Essential Information

Online Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in statistics are rare to nonexistent, but master's degree programs in this field can easily be found in a fully online format. Statisticians typically need a master's degree in statistics, survey methodology, or mathematics, although a bachelor's degree might be sufficient for some entry-level positions.

In order to apply to a master's degree programs, prospective students must submit GRE scores, a statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. Applicants to Ph.D. programs may be required to hold a master's degree in statistics or have completed specific prior coursework. To be successful in an online program, students need to have computers that are equipped to stream video, play DVDs and download zip files.

Master's Degree in Statistics

In a master's-level online statistics program, students learn about mathematical and analytical theories and develop skills to conduct graduate-level research. Prerequisites may include letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and graduate record examination (GRE) scores. Some programs require previous coursework in or knowledge of algebra and calculus, and some offer introductory mathematics classes that students can take on a non-degree basis to fulfill prerequisites before applying to the master's degree program. Graduates are awarded a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in statistics or applied statistics. Some statistics Ph.D. programs require or prefer that applicants already hold a master's degree in the field.

Program Information and Requirements

Typical online master's degree programs take approximately two to five years to complete and consist of about 30 to 34 required credits. Some programs require summer courses or a minimum of an hourly attendance to a virtual lecture each week. Students should expect to devote 9 to 12 hours per week for every three-credit course. There are many programs with no on-campus attendance requirements; however, some schools require that students take tests with supervision from approved proctors.

Online programs use tools such as streaming video, DVDs or zip file downloads to present recorded classes to students. Some also conduct live web-conferences. Other online resources typically include discussion boards, shared class notes, assignments and course syllabuses. Technical support is normally available via a designated phone line, e-mail or web-chat.

List of Common Courses

Master's degree programs in statistics encompass principles, methodology, theories and applications of statistics and related math studies. At some schools, students may choose from a thesis, project or comprehensive exam to complete their degree studies. Some of the common courses are outlined below.

Mathematical Statistics Introduction

This class introduces the theories of statistics including expectations of random variable distribution. Topics generally include exact and asymptotic theories, statistical inference, likelihood ratio tests, confidence intervals, distribution-free methods, generating functions, central limit theorems and the law of large numbers.

Design and Multivariate Analysis and Modeling

Students learn analysis concepts and procedures in discrimination and classification, unbalanced, nested and factorial data, design and variance, research and linear models in this class. Participants also study experiments used to gather statistical evidence and learn about methods and problems specific to biological, social, medical and social research.

Sampling Methods and Theory

This course examines the application methods used in planning, executing and analyzing sampling from finite populations. Students learn various types of simple, stratified, systematic, multi-stage and cluster samples, along with strategies in optimization and minimization of costs and variance.

Career Information for Graduates

As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that statisticians earned an average annual wage of $84,440. The BLS also projected that growth in employment was projected at 34%, much faster than the average for all occupations between 2014 and 2024, likely due to the growing popularity of using statistical analysis to make decisions within a wide range of industries (

Continuing Education Information

For those wishing to pursue further education, many schools offer Ph.D. programs in statistics, although not in an online format. Some schools require that students complete master's degrees before applying to doctoral programs. Others may offer advanced standing or decreased coursework requirements to students who enter after completing a master's degree program.

Online master's degree programs provide advanced instruction in statistical methods and their practical applications, primarily through online video lectures. Students also submit assignments and participate in class discussions within virtual classroom environments.

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