Master of Science (MS)

Some students enter our program with the intent of obtaining a Master of Science (MS) degree and then entering the job market. Students with a bachelor’s degree who enter the program with the desire to complete the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) often complete the MS degree first, since all MS core courses are also required for the PhD. All students seeking the MS degree must complete the same set of core requirements.

The MS degree requires 34 credits, which must include at least three 5000- or 6000-level statistics courses beyond the core. In addition to completing the required course credits, the student must pass a written exam. Much of the second year of the Master of Science program consists of elective courses determined by the student and his or her major professor. During or after the final semester of course work, students take an oral exam on work completed for the creative component (a capstone project). This is the “Final Examination” mentioned in the Graduate Catalog. 


Multivariable calculus (at least three semesters of calculus in the U.S. system) and linear algebra are required background courses, and knowledge of this material is expected of students in the MS program. Applicants should have completed these or equivalent courses prior to application for admission.

If English is not a student’s native language, they will be required to take an English placement exam at the start of the first semester of graduate study, which may be waived by the university for certain circumstances. Based on the results of this exam, the student may be required to take one or more English courses. Other language requirements, if any, will be established by the Program of Study Committee and major professor.

Learning Goals: Master of Science in Statistics

  1. Demonstrate comprehensive understanding of fundamental statistical methods and the theoretical results on which those methods are based.
  2. Apply knowledge of statistical methods, computing, and theory in the analysis of data.
  3. Conduct supervised investigation into one or more topics in statistics that are extensions of or not covered in the required curriculum for the MS degree.

Present the results of investigation into statistical topics in a clear and understandable manner, both written and orally.

Core Courses

All students seeking the degree Master of Science in Statistics are required to know the material in the core courses (STAT 5000, 5100, 5200, 5420, 5430, & 5790). Most full-time students complete the Master of Science program in two years.  A typical program of study is shown below. 

Fall-Year One
STAT 5000 (4 cr) Statistical Methods I
STAT 5420 (4 cr) Theory of Probability and Statistics I
STAT 5790 (1 cr) An Introduction to R

Spring-Year One
STAT 5100 (3 cr) Statistical Methods II
STAT 5430 (3 cr) Theory of Probability and Statistics II
STAT Elective (3 cr)

Fall-Year Two
STAT 5200 (3 cr) Statistical Methods III
STAT Electives (3-6 cr)

Spring-Year Two
STAT Electives (3-9 cr)

Major Professor and Program of Study Committee

Candidates for the MS degree work with a major professor to complete the creative component . Although the timing is somewhat variable, most students seek agreement from a faculty member to serve as their major professor sometime near the end of the first year, or at the beginning of the second year. This provides a student some time to become familiar with the faculty members in the department, their research programs, and their areas of application. A Program of Study Committee is formed shortly after a major professor has been determined and contains the major professor and two additional members, subject to agreement of the faculty asked to form the committee and approval of the Director of Graduate Education. One member of the committee should work in areas outside those emphasized in the creative component. The Program of Study Committee approves the list of 34 credit hours of coursework that a student will apply toward the MS degree (the official Program of Study) and conducts the final oral examination.

MS Written Exam

All MS students must pass a two-part written examination: a methods exam (part 1) and a theory exam (part 2). Examinations are held in mid-May with methods given in the morning (9:30 AM – 12:00 PM) and theory given in the afternoon (1:30 PM – 4:00 PM). Students are allowed two attempts at passing the exam. A third and final attempt may be given upon the recommendation of the student’s major professor. The results of this exam will be of the form: Pass, Conditional Pass, or Fail. These assessments will be given independently for the Methods and Theory parts. Hence, it is possible to pass part of the MS Exam and repeat only one part the next time.

Creative Component

Each candidate for the MS degree is required to write a paper representing the creative component of the degree program. This may be, but is not restricted to: a literature review; a report of independent research; the design and/or analysis of a sample survey; experiment or other scientific study; a report on consulting with research workers outside the department; or a report on the construction of a computer program requiring statistical numerical analysis. Pursuant to the requirements of the Graduate College, this should be explicitly identified on the Program of Study as STAT 599 with between 2 and 4 credits. The paper shall be distributed as a typed manuscript to the student’s committee by the student at least ten days before the final oral examination must be uploaded to the university's creative component repository upon passing the defense.

Maintaining Academic Standing

Students must maintain a 3.0 (B) average to remain a candidate for a degree. Failure to do this can result in being placed on academic probation. Academic probation can have implications for tuition scholarships and require additional permission to allow registration in subsequent semesters. A student cannot receive a graduate degree without removing academic probation by achieving an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Students who fail to reach a 3.0 average during their first semester of graduate study are given a one-semester grace period to improve their grades, before being placed on academic probation.

Final Oral Exam

Each candidate for the MS degree must take a final oral exam, conducted by the candidate’s Program of Study Committee. Part of this exam may be a discussion of the creative component.


There is no guaranteed support for MS students in Statistics.

See also: