Applicants to master's programs in statistics who don't have a bachelor's degree in statistics may need to complete prerequisite coursework in advanced mathematics. Doctoral programs in statistics usually admit only those students who hold a master's degree, and prerequisite statistics coursework may be necessary for applicants who don't hold a master's degree in this field. Doctoral students may have specialization options and must complete a dissertation.
A background in statistics, algebra and calculus is required for both programs.
Master's Degree in Statistics
Master's degree programs in statistics provide a solid foundation and understanding of the theory and application of statistics to real-world problems. These programs prepare students for immediate professional employment or for further graduate study.
Students are required to take a minimum number of courses at the graduate level to complete the degree. Graduate programs typically require students to complete a thesis in addition to their coursework. Typical topics might include:
- Linear statistical models
- Statistical consulting
- Data analysis
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Statistics
Doctorate programs in statistics are designed for those interested in research and development or for academic careers in this field. Programs lead to a Ph.D. in Statistics. Some programs allow students to focus on an area of concentration, such as biostatistics, actuarial science or probability.
Ph.D. programs in statistics typically require students to complete a dissertation in addition to the required amount of graduate-level coursework. Topics covered in graduate courses might include:
- Linear models theory
- Asymptotic methods
- Probability theory
- Real analysis
- Statistical inference
Popular Career Options
About 23% of statistician jobs were with federal and state governments in 2015. Other employers include:
- Scientific research and development services
- Insurance companies
- Colleges and universities
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Electronics manufacturers
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a job growth of 34% from 2014-2024, much faster than average for all occupations. The BLS suggests that those with graduate degrees accompanied by knowledge of an additional field, such as biology, computer science or engineering, should have the best prospects. Median wages were $80,110 annually, as of 2015.
Those with a graduate degree in statistics may consider pursuing a doctorate degree to further advance their job prospects. Statisticians may find other opportunities for continuing education through professional organizations, such as the American Statistical Association.
With a job growth rate that far exceeds the national average, aspiring statisticians have the option of both master's and doctoral degree programs. Graduates may work as statisticians for science, business and government organizations, or as college-level teachers.