Which Degree: M.S. or Ph.D.?
Test of English as a
Foreign Language and the International English Language Testing System
Financial Aid for
Considerations for M.S. Students
The Council of
Graduate Schools Agreement concerning April 15th
For More Information
Applying for admission to a graduate
program is not a routine or simple activity and matching the best graduate
school with your abilities and aspirations is an important step in your career.
These guidelines are intended to aid you in preparing an application so you
will know what our admissions committee looks for in an application, which
items are of importance, when to start, when to expect replies, and the like.
Whether or not you decide to apply to the University of Chicago, we hope these
notes will assist you in this mostly
Not every graduate program in statistics
will be well suited to you, nor will you be well suited to every graduate
program. Before you apply, learn as much as you can about the programs you are
considering: browse their web pages, leaf through their course catalogs, read
the fine print about their degree requirements, and talk to your undergraduate
instructors and advisors about their relative strengths and weaknesses. Make
sure your background in mathematics and statistics is appropriate for the
programs you are considering. Some departments expect strong preparation in
mathematics, while others prefer candidates with experience in statistical data
analysis and computing, and others, such as ours, expect
Just as you attempt to find departments
that are suited to your background and interests, our department tries to find
students whose preparation and interests match the requirements and strengths
of our own program. Our admissions committee bases its judgment on information
about you supplied in your application and supporting documents.
Which Degree: M.S. or Ph.D.?
Which degree should you pursue—the
Master's degree or the Ph.D.? Here are some guidelines.
If your career goal is to conduct
independent statistical research in an academic, government, or industrial
setting, you should probably pursue a Ph.D. degree. For many jobs not involving
independent research, a master’s degree suffices.
It is not necessary to have an M.S.
degree before entering our Ph.D. program. In fact, most of our entering Ph.D.
students do not have an M.S. degree when they arrive. On the other hand, after
earning their M.S. degrees here, approximately one-quarter to one-third of our
graduates go on to other doctoral programs, typically in applied or
quantitative disciplines in statistics, economics, finance, business, and other
If you are fairly certain but not
positive you want to obtain a Ph.D., you probably should still apply to the
Ph.D. program. Entering a Ph.D. program is not a prison sentence. If you enroll
in our doctoral program and then later decide that independent research is not
for you, you may leave the program and receive the M.S. degree if you have
fulfilled all of the requirements for that degree.
Our Ph.D. program is much more selective
than our M.S. program. Applicants to the Ph.D. program are
expected to have strong undergraduate records and high scores on the
Graduate Record Exams, both the General Test and the Mathematics Subject Test.
Applicants to the M.S. program are also
expected to have strong undergraduate records; they should have good scores on
the General GRE Test but are not required to take the Mathematics Subject Test.
If you are not sure which program you
are best qualified for, you may apply to both programs simultaneously—once you
have created an application, go to the “Application” tab; for degree type, select "Ph.D." and then for program name,
select “Statistics (Joint MS/PhD)”. We will then consider you for the Ph.D.
program, and if we do not deem you to be ready for the Ph.D. program, we will
consider you for the M.S. program.
The prerequisites for the master’s
program are calculus through Jacobians and
multivariate integrals, linear/matrix algebra, and a year of elementary
probability and statistics. Applicants to the doctoral program should have that
background solidly, plus additional courses in advanced mathematics, such as real
or complex analysis, and/or in other disciplines such as computer science,
economics, and the natural sciences.
Most students admitted to the Ph.D.
program are awarded an assistantship, which pays full tuition and a stipend for
living expenses but includes required training in teaching and research.
Master’s students do not receive
departmental assistantships or fellowships but generally receive a reduction in
tuition cost. See “Financial Considerations for M.S. Students” for more
Our admissions target for the Ph.D.
program is eight to ten students per year. Our small class sizes mean that our
Ph.D. students may establish a close working relationship with the professors
easily and that no particular faculty member is likely to be overloaded with
Our admissions target for the master’s
program is approximately 25 new students per year. Typical students in the
master’s program include a mix of (1) people who come to the University just
for an M.S. in statistics, (2) doctoral students from other departments within
the University who are augmenting their education with an M.S. degree in
statistics, and (3) undergraduates at the University who are earning a joint
The admissions committee reads your
application and, based on the information provided there, assesses your
preparation in mathematics, statistics, and computing, your interests within
statistics, and your potential for original research. The committee tries to
answer for itself questions such as
1. Is the Department suited to the
2. Is the
applicant sufficiently well-prepared mathematically?
3. How likely is it that the applicant
will complete the degree?
various parts of your application shed light on these questions.
How to Apply
Applying electronically promotes the timely process of your
application. To do so, you will need access to a web browser. Please visit our
web page at
and click the link marked "Apply Online"
to begin. Upload all supporting material directly to your online application.
If you have difficulty, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
to make arrangements.
The Special Tracks of the M.S. Program
The master’s program has a number of
areas of specialization, referred to as Special
Tracks. In your Candidate Statement you may indicate what Special
Tracks you are interested in (we encourage you to do so). Nonetheless, one
applies to the M.S. program per se, not to any particular Special Track. The
Special Tracks largely influence what electives you take and what topic you
write your Master's paper on.
Students Currently at the University of Chicago
If you are a doctoral student in another
department within the University who wants to augment your education with a
M.S. degree in statistics or an undergraduate at the University who wants to
earn a joint BA/MS degree, then you must apply to our M.S. program and your
application will be reviewed in the same manner applied to all applicants.
Doctoral students should read and consider the regulations
which apply to them prior to applying. Undergraduates who are interested in an BA/MS should discuss their plans with the Department's
undergraduate advisor, Professor Mary Sara McPeek, no
later than the Autumn Quarter of their 3rd year.
Of course, any student at the University
is welcome to apply to our Ph.D. program or to our regular M.S. program.
A copy of your transcript from each
undergraduate or graduate institution you have attended is required. A scanned
copy is fine. If you ultimately matriculate here, we will need to receive an
official, sealed transcript prior to enrollment. Your transcript and grades
indicate the depth and breadth of your interests, as well as your performance
in each of your courses. We have no minimum grade average for admission to our
programs, but we do not view poor grades favorably, especially those obtained
in Statistics and Mathematics courses.
It may be unclear from your transcript
whether you have met the prerequisites for our program. For example, your
transcript might show that your math courses were "Mathematics I" and
"Mathematics II"; such uninformative course titles leave us in the
dark about your math background. In such cases, we recommend that you include,
in addition to your transcript, a list of the topics covered in each course
that would be relevant to our program. You may upload your list on the
Statistics Supplement tab in the online application. The other schools to which
you are applying may also find these syllabi helpful.
Important Note to Foreign
Applicants: If the original language of your transcripts is not
English, you must obtain an official translation and upload scanned copies of
the original and the English translation. The translation should be prepared or
verified by someone whose position requires knowledge of both English and the
original language, e.g., a professor of English at a French university. This
requirement is strictly enforced by the University’s Office of International
Affairs, which will not issue the necessary documents for obtaining a visa
without the transcripts. If the schools you attended are no longer in existence
or if it is impossible to obtain official documents from a school, please ask
the Ministry of Education of your country to furnish an official statement
testifying to the impossibility of obtaining records and include this with your
If detailed transcripts are not available, the certificates must
be accompanied by official statements showing the class or quality of the
degree or diplomas as well as the marks received on the degree examinations
compared with the maximum marks obtainable.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation provide
insight into abilities, strengths, and weaknesses that cannot be reflected in
grades and test scores alone. You should select referees who know your work
well and will write a frank and detailed letter of appraisal of you and of your
likely success in our graduate statistics program. Letters that speak to your
mathematical or statistical abilities, any special experience that you might
have (in statistical applications, for example), or your potential for research
are particularly welcome.
It is now possible to submit electronic
letters of recommendation. You will find full instructions as you fill out your
online application. Choose the people who will write letters of reference for
you with care and observe the protocols of courtesy by letting them know that
you will submit their contact information with their permission and that they
will receive instructions via email from our Department.
Once you have submitted the contact
information of those who agree to write references for you on your online
application, they will receive an email informing them that you have applied to
the Department of Statistics at The University of Chicago and that you are
requesting a letter of recommendation. Included in the email will be the recommendation
deadline date, information pertaining to your right of access to view their
recommendation, and a link that will lead the letter writer to his or her
personal online evaluation for you. The authors of your letters of
recommendation will have the following options:
- Complete a letter of recommendation online
- Upload a file containing a letter of recommendation, preferably a
If your reference has difficulties delivering a letter of
recommendation, please instruct him or her to contact email@example.com
A minimum of three letters of
recommendation are required. Two additional letters may be included if you
think the circumstances warrant it.
If you have any questions regarding the
submission of electronic letters of recommendation, feel free to contact the department.
Graduate Record Examinations
We require the GRE General Test of
all applicants; in addition, it is strongly encouraged that applicants to the
doctoral program take the GRE Mathematics Subject Test.
If you have not already done so, you should make arrangements to take these
exams as soon as possible. We occasionally admit students with otherwise
exceptional records who have not taken these exams, but this is unusual.
The GREs are offered several times a year by the Educational Testing
Arrangements with ETS must be made several weeks in advance of the date of the
examination, and it takes another six to eight weeks after the exam for the
scores to reach us. Consequently, we encourage applicants to take the GREs no
later than August and to take them earlier if possible. It is now possible to take
computerized forms of some sections of the GRE tests online in some locations.
Scores on these exams reach us more quickly than those obtained by taking the paper
The ETS code for the University of Chicago
is 1832. The code for the Department of Statistics is 0704.
While we do not require a minimum score
on the GREs for admission to our programs, GRE scores are the only measure
common to all of our candidates; thus, low GRE scores not offset by evidence of
strength in other areas would make admission unlikely, especially for the Ph.D.
To be official, GRE scores must be sent
to us directly from ETS. It is helpful to the admissions committee reviewers,
however, to have self-reported scores prior to receiving the official results.
State your scores separately for each part of the exam and indicate when and
where you took the exam.
Official GRE scores are valid for up to
five years past the test date. As a practical matter, if your scores are more
than three years old, we encourage you to retake the exam(s) to provide a more
up-to-date assessment of your abilities.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and
the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
International applicants to the
Statistics Department must demonstrate an adequate command of both spoken and
We will assume you have an adequate
command of English if you grew up in the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland,
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or the United States, OR if, in the last
five years, you completed one academic year of full-time study at an
institution in one of these seven countries that uses English as the language
Otherwise, you are required to take the
internet-based test (iBT) version of the Test of
English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language
Testing System (IELTS). It is necessary to take all parts of the TOEFL/IELTS.
Poor TOEFL/IELTS scores are grounds for denial of admission, regardless of the
strength of other parts of your record.
Applicants whose total score on the
four-part iBT TOEFL falls below 90, or below 7 on the
IELTS, normally are not admitted unless other demonstrable evidence of
proficiency in English is available.
Even if the minimum totals above are
met, we may require you to provide additional evidence of your English
proficiency at some later stage in the admission process.
If you are a foreign student who is
excused from the TOEFL by virtue of the "full-time academic study"
clause in the first paragraph, we nonetheless ask you to provide us with a
TOEFL/IELTS score or other evidence of ability in English, such as
recommendations from faculty members for whom you have served as a teaching assistant.
For the TOEFL exam, our University's
Institution Code is 1832, and our Department Code is 59. If you are taking the
IELTS, request that the scores be sent to the University of Chicago,
Office of International Affairs, Attn: Admissions, 1414 E. 59th Street,
Room 291, Chicago, IL 60637.
The University's Office of International
Affairs requires that official score reports be sent directly to the University
by the testing agency. Photocopies are not accepted.
It is helpful to the admissions committee, however, to have self-reported scores before the
official score reports reach us. State your scores separately for each part of
the exam, and indicate when and where you took the exam.
TOEFL/IELTS results from tests taken
more than two years prior to our application deadline of December 31, 2012, are
considered to have expired.
For more information about the
University's English language requirements, please visit https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/students/prospective/toefl.shtml.
The short essay provides you with an
opportunity to tell us what interests you about Statistics, what your goals
are, and what you hope to accomplish in your graduate studies. There is no need
to tell us more about your grades, test scores, and course work in your
essay—your transcript and other supporting material will provide this
information. Instead, you should use the Candidate Statement as an opportunity
to tell us about aspects of yourself that are not apparent from your
transcript, such as extracurricular projects you have completed, work experience
you have had, and so on. If you have completed graduate work elsewhere, your
statement should include your reasons for wanting to change institutions or
degree programs. This part of your statement is essential if you have completed
more than two years of graduate study at other institutions.
The application fee is $65 and
nonrefundable for domestic and foreign applicants. A waiver of the fee can be
considered for domestic applicants only; see the fee waiver within the online application
for further information. University regulations forbid us from admitting
students who have not paid the fee or who have not obtained a waiver; no
exceptions are permitted.
If you are applying both to Statistics
and to another University
program, please note that you need to provide a complete application and set of
supporting documents to each program. The only exceptions are official score
reports of standard exams such as the GRE and TOEFL. In addition, you must pay
the $65.00 application fee for each application submitted, including when you
apply for both our M.S. and our Ph.D. programs.
Financial Aid for Ph.D. Students
In recent years our department has been
able to provide full support (tuition plus a stipend) for most of its Ph.D.
students, and we expect to do so for the foreseeable future. Ordinarily,
students are supported for at least four years. Support is not tied to working
with a particular faculty member. At present, most fifth-year students receive
full support, and most Ph.D. students receive summer support.
Decisions on departmental financial aid
are made by the Statistics Department, not by the University. Assistantships
are awarded on the basis of our assessment of your scholarly promise and are
subject to the availability of funds.
We adhere to the policy of the Council
of Graduate Schools concerning offers of financial support in the form of a
scholarship, assistantship, fellowship, or traineeship. Under that policy,
acceptance of such an offer from any institution does not become binding until
April 15. Complete details are given in the CGS resolution, a copy of which
accompanies any offer of a scholarship, assistantship, fellowship, or
You should also investigate other
possibilities for financial support for graduate study. In particular, the
National Science Foundation (Write: The Fellowship Office, National Research
Council, 2101 Constitution
Avenue, Washington, D.C., 20418)
offers several fellowship programs for graduate study. We strongly encourage
all of our applicants who are eligible to apply to these programs to do so.
Since the application deadlines are quite early in the fall, we suggest that
you contact NSF http://www.nsf.gov as early as
If you might receive a fellowship or
grant that would allow you to attend our Ph.D. program without full support
from us, please bring that to our attention in the Financial Data section of
the application form. Also, please repeat that information in your Candidate
Financial Considerations for M.S. Students
This section discusses how long it takes
to complete the M.S. program, what it costs, and job opportunities for M.S.
students on campus.
Our Ph.D. students perform almost all
teaching and research assistant work in our small department; thus,
assistantships or fellowships are not available for M.S. students. We do not
offer departmental financial support to incoming master’s students, although
they are typically eligible for a reduction in tuition by 25% for the first
year (nine courses); subject to satisfactory performance in required classes
and consulting, most continuing master’s students receive a reduction in base
tuition of 35% after that.
Our master’s program has a nine-course
requirement, plus an M.S. paper and seminar presentation. We are on a quarter system, with no summer classes. Master’s students from
abroad must be registered full time as a condition of their visa (a U.S.
government regulation), which means 3 courses per quarter (except Summer). Domestic students can register for fewer than three
courses per quarter; some of our domestic students do enroll in the M.S.
program on a part-time basis by taking one or two courses per quarter while
working at their regular job.
While it is possible to write the paper
during the first three quarters and then graduate in the Summer Quarter, most
of our M.S. students find they are too busy with the coursework to do that.
Often they work on the paper over the summer, finish it during the Autumn
Quarter of their second year, and then graduate that quarter or in a later
quarter during the second year.
Some M.S. students choose to stay more
than four quarters. Students who do not have an extensive statistics background
typically get much more out of the advanced data analysis courses (34300,
34500, 34700) by taking those in the second year,
after having taken the basic theory courses and several electives the first
year. Master’s students who wish to go on to a doctoral program also may stay more
than four quarters. The reason is one of timing. Applications to Ph.D. programs
are typically made in the Autumn Quarter or very early on during Winter
Quarter. But at that point, in your first year, you would not have firmly
established your record here. Entry to Ph.D. programs is typically very
competitive, and you would want to build as strong a case as you can. In
particular, it would be good to have the faculty supervisor for your M.S. paper
as one of your referees.
After the first three quarters, foreign
students have the option to apply for a reduced course load for one quarter
(via a request to the University's Office of International Affairs) and may
take only one course, provided it is the quarter in which they are graduating.
This is a condition of the student’s visa status. Be aware that if something
keeps you from graduating that quarter (e.g., you don't get your M.S. paper
submitted in time), you will be obligated to register for three courses for
each subsequent quarter until you have completed your degree requirements.
As an example of the first-year costs of
the program, here are amounts based on twelve months including the 2012-2013
academic year for a student without any dependents taking the normal full-time
load of three courses per quarter for three quarters (Autumn,
Winter, and Spring). Tuition (for nine courses) is $43,749; the required
Student Life Fee is $930; for a total of $44,679 in tuition and fees. The
University's Office of International Affairs estimates a foreign student must
be able to afford an additional $26,472 in living expenses for the first year:
$2,757 for health insurance, $1,755 for books, $21,960 in general living
expenses, and $5,490 for miscellaneous expenses. The grand total: $71,151. The
departmental tuition reduction of 25%, or $10,937, reduces that total to $60,214.
These amounts are likely to increase slightly for the 2013-2014 academic year.
It may be possible to live more cheaply
than stipulated in the Office of International Affairs budget, which is established
to meet the Federal government’s requirements for obtaining a visa. If we offer
you admission, we will provide you with the names and email addresses of some
current M.S. students. They will be able to tell you, among other things you
would like to know about, how they economize their resources to achieve the
best possible living experience in Chicago
as a student.
Depending on our Department's need for
graders and your qualifications, you may earn some money by working as a
grader. Typical grader pay is $600–$800 per quarter for 5–7 hours of work per
week. With rare exceptions, M.S. students are not hired as graders during their
first several quarters in the program. During most quarters, one or two
experienced graders are allowed to take on a high-level course for pay of
approximately $1,000 to $1,200; however, this is not to be expected for an M.S.
student at any time during their first year in the program.
Many M.S. students check the
University's web site for student
jobs, which is an active list of available student positions (in the
Graduate School of Business, Economics, and other departments) for research
assistants, data analysts, office assistants, student technicians, the like. Sometimes researchers from other departments let
us know about their openings and ask us to recommend some students for the job.
Research assistants in these positions mostly assist in data entry and
validation, data analysis, programming, and model simulations. Although the
above-mentioned jobs are not guaranteed, they are generally not very hard to
find. Most of the time, our students decide not to take part-time jobs on
campus because of their heavy course load, not because such jobs are not
If you are a foreign student here on a
student visa, the rules and procedures you must follow regarding employment as
a student are both specific and strict. Ignoring the rules can jeopardize your
visa status and right to remain in the country. Foreign students should always
consult with both the Office of International Affairs and with our department
administrators regarding how a particular student job does or does not fit with
the visa regulations that apply to your individual status.
For more information about finances,
please visit the University's site Financing Your Education. There you
will find further discussion and related links on the topics Annual Estimated
Expenses, Financial Aid in Your Academic Area, Employment Resources and
Opportunities, and more.
Important note: On the Statistics
Supplement tab of the application, there is space for applicants to the M.S.
program to list financial resources. It is crucial for M.S. applicants to complete
this section. We cannot consider your application unless the total of your
income sources indicates you will be able to cover the cost of our program for
one year. You do not have to document your income sources for the purposes of
the application, but please list your amounts in good faith. If you are a
student from abroad, are admitted to the program, and accept our admission
offer, you will have to provide official documentation to the University's
Office of International Affairs showing that you have funds sufficient to cover
the budget that they stipulate for the purposes of obtaining the necessary
Will We Consider You
for Financial Aid?
consider each Ph.D. admittee for financial aid but
take into account any outside grants or other funding the student may have. The
department does not provide financial aid to the M.S. admittees
other than gift aid in the form of the tuition reduction offered and described
above in “Financial Considerations for
M.S. Students.” All students are encouraged to visit the links listed in the
“Resources” section of our “Admissions” site and to do so early on to determine
what sources of external financial aid they may qualify for.
All admitted students begin the program in the Autumn Quarter. We do
not allow admits during the rest of the academic year because of the structure
of our course sequences. The application deadline is December 31, 2012.
The admissions committee begins
reviewing applications to the Ph.D. program around the beginning of January,
and applications to the M.S. program are reviewed toward the end of January.
Because we get hundreds of applications, both review processes can go on for
many weeks, although final decisions are not made before the application
deadline. Given the amount of applications materials and number of applicants,
we are not able to evaluate materials sent via email or by mail beforehand; all
are welcome to apply via the application site and have their credentials
evaluated during the normal review period. When we close admissions, we post a
notice to that effect on our web page and no longer accept applications.
If your school is on a semester system,
your fall semester grades may not be available until some time close to January
1. In that case, you can submit your application earlier with a preliminary
version of your transcript; you will need to submit an updated transcript after
your fall grades are available.
An application is complete when we have
received the application form and fee and when all letters of recommendation,
transcripts, and GRE scores (and TOEFL scores if required) have arrived.
Applications are not considered until they are complete. One of the most common
causes for delay pertains to the reporting of GRE (or TOEFL) scores. Please
for special score reporting schedule.
You can log into your application at any time to track your letters and scores.
The Council of Graduate Schools Agreement
concerning April 15th
Applicants to the doctoral program
should please note that by the terms of the Council of
Graduate Schools Resolution, to which the University of Chicago and many other
universities in the United States are signatories, Ph.D. applicants are not
required to make a final decision about acceptance of financial aid (e.g.,
assistantships) until April 15th, nor is any commitment on their part binding
until then. This agreement is not applicable to students admitted without
scholarships or assistantships, such as those admitted to our M.S. program with
For More Information
If you have any questions about the
application process, you may contact the Admissions Committee by email at firstname.lastname@example.org,
by fax at 773.702.9810, or by phone at 773.702.0541.