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A&S—Statistics

The Graduate Faculty offers various programs of study and research in statistics. Degree programs lead to the Master of Arts or Master of Science in applied statistics, the Master of Arts or Master of Science in statistics, and the Doctor of Philosophy in statistics. These may be pursued by full-time and part-time students. The department also provides courses for students engaged in graduate studies in other disciplines requiring statistics and for individuals requiring specialized statistical skills in the workplace. Full details of all programs and departmental regulations are available on the website at the address listed below.

Contact Information

Department Chair: Satish Iyengar
Main Office: 2717 Cathedral of Learning
412-624-8368
Fax: 412-648-8814
E-mail: gerber@pitt.edu
www.statistics.pitt.edu

Additional information concerning the department’s graduate program may be obtained from the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Statistics, Graduate Admissions Administrator, 2720 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Phone: 412-624-1674. Fax: 412-648-8814. E-mail: gerber@pitt.edu.

Admissions

A basic requirement for admission to the graduate program in statistics is the completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the United States or the completion of a level of education that the University of Pittsburgh deems comparable to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. Applicants whose native language is not English and who have not already completed a degree program in a U.S. college or university are required to submit either the TOEFL (administered by the Educational Testing Service) or the IELTS (administered by Cambridge University, Local Examinations Syndicate). Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are required.

Decisions regarding admission are based on the applicant’s official credentials, grade point averages, and the availability of faculty and facilities to meet the applicant’s expressed academic or research needs and interests. With limited space available, not all qualified applicants can be admitted.

The minimal course requirements for admission into the graduate programs of the Department of Statistics are:

  • Three terms of calculus
  • Linear algebra
  • One year of probability and statistics, preferably an introductory mathematical statistics sequence

Students lacking some of these prerequisites may be admitted provisionally at the discretion of the Graduate Committee. In addition, students intending to pursue the PhD should either have taken a one-term course in advanced calculus, or be prepared to take such a course in the first year of graduate study.

Financial Assistance

Financial assistance for graduate students is provided in the form of teaching and research assistantships, fellowships, tuition scholarships, and loans. Application for financial aid should be made on the application form for admission to graduate study. All applications for financial assistance are reviewed in the department with award decisions made on the basis of prior academic excellence and achievement and perceived potential for contributions to the field of statistics.

Students applying for fellowships or assistantships for the fall term should file their applications no later than January 15 of the same year.

Requirements for the Master’s Degree in Statistics or Applied Statistics

The department encourages its students to obtain a broad background in statistics, including both methods and theory courses, regardless of whether they specialize in applied statistical methodology or in statistical theory. Consequently, two-term sequences in applied statistical methods (STAT 2131-2132) and intermediate mathematical statistics (STAT 2630-2640) are common to all master’s degree programs offered by the department, and are also generally taken by students whose goal is the PhD in statistics.

Master of Arts

Department requirements for the Master of Arts in Applied Statistics are the completion of 33 credits, including the two year-long sequences STAT 2630-2640 and STAT 2131-2132 mentioned above, at least three credits in consulting, four courses (12 credits) in statistical methods or theory taken from a list of choices, and an approved two-course sequence (6 credits) taken at the graduate level in a discipline other than statistics. The final requirement for this degree is passing, at the master’s level or above, a qualifying examination covering topics from applied and theoretical statistics, including the material in STAT 2630-2640 and STAT 2131-2132. For full-time graduate students, this exam is usually taken at the beginning of the fall term of the second year of graduate study. Part-time graduate students will want to take the qualifying examination at the earliest opportunity after finishing STAT 2630-2640 and STAT 2131-2132.

The Master of Arts in Statistics differs from the Master of Arts in Applied Statistics by replacing the requirements of a two-course sequence in a discipline other than statistics and 3 credits in consulting with the requirement that three additional 3-credit graduate-level statistics courses be taken. Both master’s degrees require completion of 33 credits and the passing of the qualifying examination.

Master of Science

The requirements for the Master of Science, either in applied statistics or in statistics, are the same as the requirements for the corresponding Master of Arts, except that two 3-credit statistics courses are replaced by 6 credits of STAT 2001 (Research and Thesis for the MS), and an oral defense of the thesis is required.

Requirements for the PhD

The main requirement for the Doctor of Philosophy in statistics is the successful completion and defense of a dissertation making a substantial and original contribution to statistics, probability, or their application. Prior to embarking on their research, candidates must pass the qualifying exam (see Requirements for the Master’s Degree above) at the PhD level. To be admitted to PhD candidacy, candidates must successfully pass an oral PhD Comprehensive examination over an area of research chosen in consultation with their advisory committee. The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to demonstrate that students are able to understand, summarize, and make use of the statistical literature in an area of potential research that is of interest to them. Students who have found a specific topic for their dissertation are encouraged to combine the comprehensive examination with the presentation of the thesis proposal. Students who are not yet ready to present a proposal can still take the comprehensive exam, but must later submit a thesis proposal orally and in writing to their advisory committee.

Course requirements for the PhD are STAT 2631 (Theory of Statistics), 2641 (Asymptotic Methods), 2661 (Theory of Linear Models), and 2711-2712 (Probability Theory) or their equivalent. PhD candidates are also required to take at least three credits in statistical consulting; those students anticipating a career involving consulting are advised to take a substantial number of consulting credits. The remaining courses of the 72 credits required for the PhD will be decided in conjunction with the student’s advisor and should consist of mainly formal courses prior to the commencement of research for the dissertation.

The department has no second language requirements for the PhD. Although not required, facility in the use of one or more computer programming languages, especially those used in writing statistical software (for example, SAS, R), is highly recommended.

Full-time graduate students usually take between four and five years to complete a PhD. Part-time students may be allowed as many as 10 years to finish all requirements. Additional information concerning examinations and requirements can be found in the Graduate and Professional Bulletin and the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences (A&S).

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