PhD / Research

Focus Track - PhD/Research logo

Some of our MSS graduates move into post-MS PhD programs in statistics and allied disciplines. The MSS core and recommended courses define a firm basis for students on this track. Such students take several advanced MSS elective courses in year 2 and in consultation with their MSS advisors and the MSD, will customize choice of electives to match their intended PhD field. In addition, we strongly recommend that students aiming to apply to PhD programs develop the MSS thesis rather than the MS portfolio; the demonstration of research interests and achievement in a thesis is generally a strong positive in PhD applications. We also strongly recommend the students to go to the weekly department seminars and the social/reception following the seminar to network with faculty and other students.

On course selection, students targeting a PhD in statistics programs benefit from electives covering more theoretical as well as advanced material in core areas of statistics (e.g., STA 571, 640, 641, 642, 643, 841, 944). Some students with relevant pre-requisites and with permission of course instructors may take one or more STA PhD level course. One example is STA 711 that provides theoretical background that some leading PhD programs regard as beneficial at the time of PhD application. In other cases, students may propose to substitute a core MSS course with a PhD level course such as STA 732 in place of STA 532, or STA 831. In all such cases, the student will consult with their MSS advisor and MSD prior to requesting permission from the instructor of the advanced course; the decision whether or not to admit is that of the course instructor. Students without a background in mathematical analysis may also consider taking Math 531/532 (analysis sequence). We recommend the students to regularly attend the STA 701 class (weekly graduate student research seminars).

Some of our MSS graduates aim at PhD programs in related areas requiring and involving a major aspect of statistics.  In such cases, the MSS tracks linked to key areas provide guidance on course selection.  For example, students interested in PhD programs in economics/econometrics or business administration are recommended to consider electives highlighted in the Economics & Finance track. Similarly, students interested in PhD programs in biostatistics, biology and allied areas are recommended to consider electives highlighted in the Health Data Science track, while students interested in PhD studies in computer science and/or machine learning will typically emphasize electives noted in the Data Science & Analytics track.

Selected Universities/PhD Programs for Past MSS alumni:
  • Boston University
  • Duke University
  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Washington