Rankings

The 20 Best Doctor of Statistics Graduate Schools

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Updated: February 20, 2024, Reading time: 33 minutes

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Statistics is a field that has grown more relevant today because of the growing footprint of big data and, subsequently, data science and machine learning. But before big data in the information and computing sciences, data has always been the primary currency of statistics.

A Doctor of Statistics degree is a postgraduate degree program designed to offer students an in-depth understanding of quantitative methods, theories, and applications. Students learn about principles of data modeling, including probability theory and multivariate calculus, the development of statistical models, algorithms for inference, and data analysis.

They also learn about the application of data analysis in organizations and industries, including the healthcare, finance, insurance, telecommunications, and education sectors.

This discipline encompasses data collection, sampling, analysis, and interpretation. The discipline also touches on experimental design, simulation of conditions, computational analysis, predictions (through the concept of probability), and many more. 

In addition to coursework, students often take part in industry internships and collaborative research opportunities. Doctoral programs in Statistics typically culminate in a comprehensive dissertation or research project. With a Doctor of Statistics degree, professionals are prepared to pursue top jobs in academia, government, industry, and commerce.

Quick audio summary:

This elemental nature of statistics is what makes it versatile across industries, from agriculture to food science, to natural sciences like botany, geography, oceanography, and even meteorology, to engineering and the applied sciences, medicine, life sciences, athletics, and of course, social sciences, which is one of the first disciplines to utilize statistics.

Aside from providing empirical and quantitative results, it can also create simulated environments for intangible sample data, where the conditions affecting the data cannot be captured physically or in real-time.

An example would be statistical research involving meteorology, anthropology, microbiology, and even social science, where quantifying human behavior remains an ever-expanding and evolving domain.

Statistics also help government agencies and policy-making institutions do just that and form evidence-based policies and regulations based on quantitative data.

Check out this career guide on becoming a Statistician:

METHODOLOGY

For the top Doctor of Statistics Graduate Schools, we’ve based our selections on the following points:

For more information, see our Methodology page.


20 BEST DOCTOR OF STATISTICS GRADUATE SCHOOLS

Boston University

Boston University

Ph.D. in Statistics

Boston University (BU) was established in 1839 in Vermont before moving to its permanent home in Boston, MA. Shortly after, one of its faculty members successfully invented the telephone in one of its laboratories – Alexander Graham Bell in 1876.

BU is classified as an R1 research university. It has also produced several acclaimed scholars and graduates – from Nobel prize laureates to MacArthur fellows to Pulitzer winners. 

Standout Features of the Program:

BU is committed to funding students’ first five years of doctoral study, which, with good academic standing, could go longer than that. In addition, first-year students are eligible for teaching fellowships and the Dean’s Fellowship. Both provide an annual stipend of $23,340, on top of an $11K stipend for the summer term. 

Doctoral students in statistics are eligible for a free membership from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), the American Mathematical Society (AMS), and the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM).  They can also avail themselves of discounted memberships from the ASA and other related professional societies. 

North Carolina State University 

North Carolina State University

Ph.D. in Statistics

NC State’s Department of Statistics was established in 1941 with statistician Gertrude Cox, famous for pioneering the statistical tenet Experimental Design, at the helm. Its graduate program would later become a research powerhouse, posting great numbers in post-grad career placement.

From 2003 to 2020, NC State has surpassed other universities for the total number of Ph.D. in Statistics degrees conferred, with 332 graduates. It has also topped the list for 2019 and 2020, with 23 and 25 graduates, respectively. 

Standout Features of the Program:

Stat Ph.D. students looking to apply to the GIT funding program can apply to the multi-industrial facilities and companies at Research Triangle Park. This economic hub, which has a longstanding partnership with NC State, can also be a good jump-off point for a career after grad school. 

The best-selling statistical software SAS was developed at NC State as a project of the Department of Agriculture in 1966. Ten years and 100 clients later, the founding developers established the SAS Institute, one of the biggest private software companies globally and a major benefactor of the SAS Hall, which houses the Department of Statistics. 

Purdue University

Purdue University

Ph.D. in Statistics

The Purdue Department of Statistics is well represented in various mathematical and statistical professional circles, such as the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS), the American Association for the Advancement of Science or AAAS, the International Statistical Institute (ISI), an NSF CAREER award, with five Department of Statistics alumni emerging as winners from 2009 to 2012. Also, two of the department’s professors emeriti have sat as president of the ASA, which welcomed nine fellows from Purdue. 

Standout Features of the Program:

Statistics Ph.D. students can avail of the vast IT resources available both at the department and university levels. At least 35 servers running on Ubuntu OS are available, with the largest having 168 TB to boot. Software programs running on R and Python are also available, and statistical computing applications like SAS, Matlab, and Minitab. 

At least six interdepartmental research groups are conducting investigative work with Discovery Park, Purdue’s very own research hub. These research groups represent the department’s collaboration with other disciplines like medicine, bioengineering, environmental science, entrepreneurship, and biosciences.

Florida State University (FSU)

Florida State University

Ph.D. in Statistics

Founded in 1959, the FSU Department of Statistics was home to famous statisticians, such as Richard Savage and Frank Wilcoxon. Today, its faculty has expanded the department’s accolades through fellowships in professional societies, holding editorial roles in peer-reviewed journals, and receiving government grants, such as those from the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

Standout Features of the Program:

The department encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary investigative work. The interdisciplinary option requires students to take at least three additional courses in the secondary discipline of choice in preparation for the research work. Additionally, the Supercomputer Computations Research Institute is at the student’s disposal for research requiring complex computations. 

The Department of Statistics is currently involved in several types of interdisciplinary research involving oceanography, meteorology, and engineering. Two faculty members of the department are currently studying the application of nonlinear time series models in predicting climate changes and forecasts.

Ohio State University

The Ohio State University

Ph.D. in Statistics

The Department of Statistics at OSU was established in 1974, although the discipline has been in existence since the ’60s through the Department of Mathematics and the Statistics Laboratory. It would later develop and offer interdisciplinary programs such as biostatistics and data analytics in the succeeding decades.

Standout Features of the Program:

Students can utilize the 11 computers housed by the department, which run on both Linux and Windows servers. They also have access to the Ohio Supercomputer Center and various statistical software programs like SAS, SPSS, Mathematica, and many others. 

The Department also offers an alternative Ph.D. program for statisticians interested in interdisciplinary work. The Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Biostatistics is a joint offering from the Department of Statistics and the College of Public Health. It offers two concentrations: Methodology and Public Health.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona

Ph.D. in Statistics

From UA’s College of Mines to the School of Mathematics, math and statistics have been deeply embedded into the university curriculum as early as the late 19th century.

Known today as the Department of Mathematics, its programs are strongly founded on research and interdisciplinary activity, particularly statistics, data science, engineering, and biosciences (biostatistics).

Standout Features of the Program:

A Ph.D. minor is required for both tracks. At least three units are required under any of the following minors:

Applicants to either Ph.D. in Statistics program are required to have the following:

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

University of California

Ph.D. in Statistics

The discipline of Statistics at UCLA started from four academic channels during the 1930s: the Departments of Mathematics, Biostatistics, and Biomathematics, and the Division of Social Sciences.

The Department of Statistics would later be launched more than fifty years later in 1998, boasting programs and research that combine theoretical and computational coursework with interdisciplinary applications. 

Standout Features of the Program:

Students can choose to research the following areas under which many of the Statistics faculty have done their research:

Students can choose to engage with faculty who have researched any of the following areas in an advisory or consultancy role.

The Department is home to three research centers that collaborate across different disciplines to produce studies and literature that demonstrate the value of statistics in these different industries. These are the:

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech)

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Ph.D. in Statistics

The Department of Statistics was established in 1949. The department offers Statistics programs that are well-rounded, touching on every industry and other possible applications of the discipline.

Standout Features of the Program:

The department has bilateral partnerships with multinational companies such as Shell and Capital One. Employees from partner companies can avail of the courses for free or pursue a statistics degree at a reduced rate. VT graduates can take advantage of this partnership to leverage themselves and their credentials for career placement.

Recognizing that Statistics is not for everybody, the department offers two offices that offer free tutorial and consultancy services for non-statisticians. The STAT Lab (Statistics Tutoring All Together) is a free tutorial service helmed by statistics graduate students for statistics undergraduates. On the other hand, the Statistical Applications and Innovations Group (SAIG) is a consultancy office that offers free statistical aid to VT students, faculty, and staff outside the department. It also offers free short courses, such as utilizing R software and machine learning.

University of Michigan Ann Arbor

University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

Ph.D. in  Statistics

U-M’s Statistics program has consistently been hailed as one of the best in the country, ranking among the top 10 across all school-ranking publications, including the National Research Council’s 2010 rankings.

The department has always collaborated with other U-M departments and schools, such as but not limited to the Ross School of Business and the Department of Industrial & Operations Engineering, to offer a holistic and relevant Statistics program at all levels. 

Standout Features of the Program

The NSF recently awarded the department a research training grant to study modern methodologies for analyzing dynamic and complicatedly structured big data, which is ubiquitous today, thanks to social media. It also aims to train U-M students of all levels, from undergraduate to post-doc, on these new techniques and subsequently apply them to their research or professional work. 

The Ph.D. in Statistics student council actively maintains a Wiki page for all things statistics and its relevant applications and developments. Access to this page requires a U-M online login credential.

University of Wisconsin Madison

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ph.D. in Statistics

UW’s Department of Statistics was instituted in 1960. Since then, it has conferred close to a thousand graduate degrees, with about half being doctoral degrees. The department prides itself in offering research and training programs, thus preparing graduates of the discipline for statistical work or research in any industry or field.

Standout Features of the Program:

The faculty of the Department of Statistics is also associated with the Departments of Mathematics, Computer Sciences, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Botany. Students looking to engage in interdisciplinary research are very fortunate to have many faculty members as advisers because of their breadth of knowledge and expertise that spans beyond statistics. 

In line with the department’s longstanding tradition of collaborative work within UW, it is currently involved in five interdisciplinary initiatives. These are:

Iowa State University

Iowa State University

Ph.D. in Statistics

ISU’s Department of Statistics has its roots embedded in the Iowa Agriculture Experiment Station when the latter instituted the Statistical Section in 1935, later becoming the Department of Statistics.

Since 2000, the department has consistently ranked among the top 10 statistics programs in the country regarding research activity  (especially interdisciplinary research), curriculum rigor, job placement, and student census. 

Standout Features of the Program:

Students can opt to co-major in another area or discipline while also pursuing a doctorate in Statistics. It has been a common pathway for many students who are keen on interdisciplinary studies. The common co-majors include engineering, agriculture, genetics, and computer science. With this option, students will have to choose a Statistics track that is more relevant to the second major, Applied Statistics or Theoretical Statistics.

Did you know?

The department is home to three research centers that collaborate across the academic ecosystem, such as forensic science, health informatics, botany and biology, and experimental design, to push the envelope and demonstrate the value of statistics in fields that require statistical analysis to derive empirical results. 

Stanford University

Stanford University

Ph.D. in Statistics

Stanford’s Department of Statistics has always been motivated by interdisciplinary collaboration since its establishment in 1948. As a start, two members of its pioneering faculty are also affiliated with the Departments of Psychology and Economics – Quinn McNemar and Kenneth Arrow, respectively.

The succeeding decades saw the continuation of joint faculty appointments, which resulted in the seamless integration of Stanford Statistics with other schools and departments like Engineering, Medicine, Liberal Arts, Natural Sciences, Business, and Food Science.

Standout Features of the Program:

While Stanford observes a quarter system, students of the Department of Statistics are not required to be in residence or enroll for the summer terms, except for first-year students. Despite this, the department still holds lectures and other campus sessions, with which students can electively attend.

Stanford Statistics emphasizes the increasing value and relevancy of interdisciplinary research. It strongly encourages its students to join such projects or research groups, or form their own, as the department has received generous funding from the NSF for this very purpose. 

University of Connecticut

University of Connecticut

Ph.D. in Statistics

UConn’s Department of Statistics was instituted in 1962, with a faculty of seven professors. Today, most of its 23 professors are recipients of NSF and NIH grants. They are also recipients of the Microsoft Azure Research Award and the prestigious NSF CAREER Award.

Standout Features of the Program:

The faculty of the Department of Statistics is composed of 20+ professors with a vast breadth of experience in interdisciplinary research; from theoretical statistical subdisciplines like multivariate analysis, probability, and statistical computation to interdisciplinary statistical approaches such as biostatistics, bioinformatics, statistical genomics or econometrics, there is no shortage of research advisers from the department, regardless of the student’s chosen field of study or research. 

Ph.D. Statistics students lend their time to the Statistical Consulting Service (SCS), which fields inquiries from UConn and non-UConn clients. From experimental design to grant writing assistance, data modeling, statistical computation, and analysis results in interpretation, or software troubleshooting, the SCS team, is ready to assist statistically, regardless of the nature of the research or project. Simple queries are free of charge, while project engagements usually cost $40 per hour.

The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago

Ph.D. in Statistics

UChicago’s Department of Statistics was formally launched in 1949 with two main objectives: providing further insight into advanced statistics through research and applying statistics in other fields of study.

Today, both the faculty and the students are guided by these same motivations as they expand the utilization of statistics to modern disciplines (such as adaptive technologies and medicine) beyond the traditional ones (natural and social sciences). 

Standout Features of the Program:

The faculty of the Department of Statistics built a portfolio of work intersecting the fields of biostatistics, neuroscience, genetics, machine learning, chemistry, environmental science,  econometrics, and finance. 

The department offers free statistical consultative services to other UC students or faculty members who need statistical assistance with their projects. Helmed by the department’s graduate students, mostly doctoral candidates, the services are confined to theoretical and applied statistical insight at every level of research – from experimental design, sampling, prediction, computation, and simulation to interpretation. Statistical software assistance or troubleshooting is not included in the service. 

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University

Ph.D. in Statistics (regular and joint degrees)

In 1966, CMU instituted the Department of Statistics (now known as the Department of Statistics and Data Science) and consistently produced graduates with advanced degrees. The introduction of joint Ph.D. degrees started in the mid-’90s, with Public Policy and Machine Learning as the pioneer offerings.

Standout Features of the Program:

Before a student can deliver a dissertation proposal, they must first demonstrate a forte, or an “Area of Strength,” a course or a subdiscipline where they excel with exemplary grades as proof. Common “areas of strength” demonstrated by previous students include theoretical, applied, and computational statistics.

Unlike other Statistics programs in the country, the department does not require qualifying exams for coursework competency and doctoral candidacy admission. 

Cornell University

Cornell University

Ph.D. in Statistics

Statistics at Cornell University has been taught since pre-WWII. The discipline grew from then on and can be attributed to the different notable faculty who came in and subsequently left, like Prof. Jacob Wolfowitz, who pioneered the concept of interdisciplinary collaboration.

This led to the decentralization of the field within Cornell, with various statistic research groups existing in different departments. In 2005, the Department of Statistical Sciences was formally launched, housed by the Faculty of Computing and Information Science (CIS). 

Standout Features of the Program:

Students are required to run their computations and other modeling tasks via the statistical software program SAS. Software license can be purchased through the Cornell licensing store and is valid for one year. SAS runs on either Linux or Windows platforms. 

The department houses a collection of previously accepted dissertations along with the post-Ph.D. career information of the student-authors. This page is a valuable resource for students preparing for their dissertations or career jump points after earning a doctorate.

University of California Berkeley

University of California Berkeley

Ph.D. in Statistics

Berkeley Statistics, founded in 1938, has always been at the forefront of research and interdisciplinary innovation. Proof of this is its highly acclaimed faculty, many of whom are National Academy of Science members, MacArthur Genius Grant winners, and recipients of the prestigious National Medal of Science. 

Standout Features of the Program:

During the summer term of the first year of study, students are required to participate in any of the following activities:

The recently opened residence hall for first-year students, Blackwell Hall, was named after one of Berkeley Statistics’ founding fathers – David Blackwell. He is also the first professor of African-American descent to be granted tenure status at the university. 

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University

Ph.D. in  Statistics

By the numbers, Penn State Statistics is indeed a powerhouse in the discipline, particularly in scholarly research. Eighteen of its faculty are elected fellows of the ASA, ISI, and the AAAS, members of the National Academy of Sciences, and National Medal of Science award recipients. 

Standout Features  of  the Program:

A dual Ph.D. degree option is also available. There are two programs to choose from: 

Students can apply to any of these degrees once they have been admitted into the Statistics Ph.D. program. A separate admission committee and chair govern each of the programs. 

Penn State Statistics has consistently ranked among the country’s and the world’s best programs. The National Research Council recognized it among the top 15 in 2010, while a more recent world ranking, the 2019 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), pitted the program as the 23rd best in the world. 

Columbia University

Columbia University

Ph.D. in Statistics

Long before the department’s inauguration in 1946, statistics had already been taught at Columbia for more than a decade. The department started with four faculty members and conferred its first Ph.D. degree in 1947.

In the early 2000s, it saw an unprecedented rise in enrollees, forcing the department to relocate after it already did once during the ’60s.

Standout Features of the Program:

The department is affiliated with three research centers: 

The department offers a free statistical consultancy service exclusive to students, faculty, and staff of Columbia University. Engagements are on an appointment basis and can be booked by emailing consult@stat.columbia.edu. It is advised to lead with the following pertinent information in the email for expedited service: 

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University

Ph.D. in Statistics

TAMU’s Department of Statistics was established in 1962 with two main objectives: expanding statistical research and conferring graduate degrees under the discipline.

What started as a class of 12 graduate students and five faculty members had grown into a thriving department of 44 faculty members deeply involved in both core and interdisciplinary or collaborative research.

Standout Features of  the Program:

The department is involved in several interdisciplinary studies in agriculture and toxicology, among many others. It is also instrumental in the establishment of the Center for Environmental and Rural Health. It is funded by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences – NIEHS. The renewal of the university-wide Superfund Basic Research Program is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Aside from the department’s active initiatives in interdisciplinary research, it also houses the Center for Statistical Bioinformatics, which receives generous funding from four national agencies: the National Cancer Institute (NCI), NSF, the National Human Genome Research Institute – NHGRI, and NIEHS. The department is also affiliated with the Institute for Applied Mathematics and Computational Science.


Why pursue a Ph.D. in Statistics?

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why pursue a Ph.D. in Statistics?

Recent BLS data projects the median annual salary of statisticians and mathematicians at $99,960, which is just for those who have attained a master’s degree.

With the academic and research pedigree of a doctorate, this figure will skyrocket, especially since the demand for statisticians across industries grew by 30% in 2022, and this projection is expected to go higher as economies and industries reopen.

Most universities, especially those listed below, do not offer terminal master’s degrees in Statistics but rather a continuing degree leading to a doctorate. The master’s degree is conferred once the student becomes a doctoral candidate. 

The short answers to this question? One, because an advanced degree in Statistics can command a high salary, and two, most graduate programs in Statistics lead to a Ph.D. 

What is the difference between Statistics and Mathematics?

Statistics were used to be recognized as a subset of Mathematics. The former, however, has grown into its own discipline as it has become an integral part of various industries that rely heavily on scientific investigations.

The need for real-world integration of the quantitative results also helped statistics grow into its discipline, compared to mathematics’s abstract and theoretical approach. Its heavy utilization of electronic and computational methods also demanded a different methodology distinct from its parent discipline.

It is still safe to say that mathematics, to some extent, subsumes the discipline of statistics, particularly theoretical statistics. However, applied and computational statistics do warrant the argument for statistics being its discipline because of its varied applications, methodologies, and requirements. 

Who can apply to the program? 

Both bachelor’s and master’s degree holders can apply to a Ph.D. program in Statistics, provided they have a working knowledge of advanced mathematics courses, which is usually the trifecta of Advanced  Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Real Analysis.

Knowledge in real variable functions, elementary statistics and probability, experimental design (if the applicant is coming from an applied science program), and programming, particularly Python and R, are not usually required but are advantageous.

Are GRE scores required? What are the other admission requirements?

Most of the programs listed below do not require GRE scores for the 2022 applications. Other admission requirements include transcripts, CV, letters of recommendation, an essay, and a TOEFL exam.

What are the usual degree requirements? 

Most of  the programs listed below follow the following flow: 

Some programs may only require one qualifying exam, which is for doctoral candidacy. The final examination for the dissertation defense is a staple among all Statistics programs. Other requirements for graduation include participation in colloquia, seminars, consultancy, short research projects, and internships. There is also a residency requirement.

Do I need to be an expert in Mathematics to excel as a Statistician?

No, you do not need to be an expert in mathematics to excel as a statistician. Having a general knowledge of mathematics is helpful; however, much of the work that statisticians do does not require advanced knowledge of complex mathematics. A lot of the work relies on statistical techniques and software programming.

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