Ph.D. Program Requirements


  • Core courses : STA 601, 711, 721, 723, 732, 831 and the seminar course STA 701.
  • Qualifying Examination: Typically taken at the end of the first year, and must be passed before the start of the third year in two or fewer attempts.
  • Preliminary Examination: Typically taken in the summer after the second year, and must be passed by the end of the third year.
  • Teaching Assistant: In years 2+ of Ph.D. studies
  • Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Program
    • 12 hours of RCR training, including Orientation and Graduate School RCR Forum or Departmental RCR Forum events
  • English Language Requirement (for non-native English speaking students)
  • Progress Toward Completion
    • Satisfactory progress in courses  and other program requirements
    • Annual progress form submitted to DGS before April 15 of each year
  • Dissertation


Year 1

The courses in the table below are the required core courses for the PhD program, and are typically taken during the first year. These courses additionally serve as preparation for the Qualifying Exam. A course requirement may be waived only in the special case of satisfactory performance in a previously-taken course that covered the same material.  

Fall Semester Spring Semester
STA 601—Bayesian and Modern Statistical Data Analysis
STA 711—Probability and Measure Theory
STA 721—Linear Models
STA 701S—Readings in Statistical Science
STA 723—Statistics Case Studies
STA 732—Statistical Inference
STA 831—Probability/Statistical Models
STA 701S—Readings in Statistical Science
  • All students are expected to register for the Graduate Seminar Series STA 701S Readings in Statistical Science each semester. This is an informal seminar with talks on research given by students and faculty and is an excellent way to find out about research areas of potential advisors.
  • Ph.D. students generally enter the program with background in mathematics that includes preparation in analysis at or above the level of the Duke course MATH 531 Basic Analysis. In rare cases a student may take MATH 531 concurrently in the first semester, in order to ensure mathematical preparation.
  • Occasionally, some students enter the program needing extra preparation before taking the first year PhD courses.  The DGS works with those students to devise an individualized plan. This could involve, for example, taking some 500-level courses offered by the department in lieu of some of the PhD first year core courses. 

Year 2

You should select second year courses and more advanced courses, including STA courses and, in some cases, courses from other departments. All course selections must be approved by your advisor. Availability of advanced courses and special topics courses vary depending on departmental offerings from the menu of courses taught every 2-3 years: see Course schedule.

You are expected to register for STA 701S Readings in Statistical Science each semester. This is an informal seminar with talks on research given by students and faculty. Some 2nd year students find it beneficial to give a presentation/talk in STA 701S as part of preparing Prelim Exam presentations.

Year 3 and Beyond

You may take a small number of more advanced or special topics courses in statistics and sometimes a course in an area of immediate relevance to your thesis research from other departments. As in years 1 and 2, course selection must be approved by the dissertation advisor. You should register for STA 993/994 Independent Study each semester with the dissertation advisor.

All students are encouraged to register for STA 701S Readings in Statistical Science each semester. Every student in their 3rd year or higher must give (at least) one presentation/talk in STA 701S each year; this is a primary opportunity for practicing research presentations and presenting progress in research to committee members.