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Master's Degree in Statistics at the University of Chicago

Last update: 11/28/2007

Statistics, the art and science of analyzing data, is about being quantitatively literate. The master's program in statistics at the University of Chicago is an exciting combination of a professional degree, a liberal education, and, for those who wish, a preparation for doctoral study in any field in which statistics is heavily used. It is possible to pursue either statistics as such, or in combination with any of the main areas where statistics is applied. For students with the appropriate background, the program can be completed in one academic year.* Part-time study is also possible, both as a degree candidate and as a graduate student at large in a nondegree program.

Special Tracks

There are a number of areas of specialization possible within the program. Some of these include:

  • Data Analysis
  • Mathematical Statistics
  • Biostatistics
  • Statistical Genetics
  • Statistics and Finance
  • Computer Vision
  • One can also tailor-make tracks to suit special interests or needs.

Theoretical and Applied Excellence

The diversity of the program reflects the interdisciplinary orientation of nearly all our faculty. The fields mentioned above are all represented by active researchers in the department, as are other areas such as statistical computing, environmental statistics and the history of statistics.

What makes the University of Chicago program special is our unique blend of theoretical excellence and true appreciation for the subjects in which our field is applied. We educate our students to the same high standards.

The Program

The program has several constituent parts, which go together to form a comprehensive quantitative education. The program includes:


  • Courses in theoretical and applied statistics that provide a broad knowledge and understanding of statistical methods and their practical use.
  • Consulting experience: the department runs a consulting service for researchers in other departments in the University. You get to be the consultant, working as the quantitative expert to solve important research problems of our day. Typically, two graduate students work together under the supervision of a faculty member.
  • Exposure to the cutting edge of the field through seminars and special courses.
  • A chance to study a problem in depth through a master's paper on a subject chosen by you together with your faculty adviser.
  • Training in presentation: all master's students give a short seminar to the department midway through the year, and a long seminar on their master's paper at the completion of the program. Students are also expected to participate actively in courses and seminars.

The Special Tracks

In the following, we give a synopsis of some of the possible areas of specialization.

Data Analysis
This is the core of the subject, teaching you the principles and methods for analyzing data and designing experiments. Provides a broad background for working as a statistician in industry or government.
Mathematical Statistics
Focuses on theoretical statistics, probability and stochastic processes. Provides an excellent background for pursuing doctoral studies in statistics, finance and other disciplines in which probability and statistics are heavily used.
Biology, medicine and psychology are major areas where quantitative analysis are essential. The program relies on an intimate collaboration with practitioners in the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Several courses that are suitable for this track are offered by the Health Studies Department.
Statistical Genetics
Statistics plays an important role in modern genetics and bioinformatics. Faculty in the Department of Statistics have broad interests in this area including gene mapping, analysis of gene expression data, and other mathematical and statistical problems arising in genetics. Additional coursework beyond the usual program may be required, and even well-prepared students may need at least part of a second year to specialize in statistical genetics.
Statistics and Finance
The use of statistics and probability both for derivative securities and in other areas of finance is a rapidly increasing phenomenon. The program is, in particular, designed to provide you with a deep understanding of the hedging principles that underlie options theory. Sophisticated mathematical techniques for analyzing both standard and exotic options are taught. Due to the advanced nature of some of the topics covered in the relevant courses, even well-prepared students may need at least part of a second year to specialize in finance.
Computer Vision
Object recognition and detection, in medical imaging, regular photos, digitized documents and a variety of other sources - is a recurrent and critical issue in science, industry and modern communications. The faculty includes specialists in the analysis of visual signals.
Survey Statistics
Statistical surveys are important and pervasive in the modern world.  Governments use survey statistics to establish policy and trigger actions; businesses use survey data to make important decisions about products and services, prices, and promotions; academic and other researchers conduct analysis of survey data to make new scientific discoveries in fields such as education, labor economics, environmetrics, health care, agriculture, forestry, sociology, and criminal justice, among many others.  This program provides students instruction in the design, operations, and analysis of modern surveys.  It offers students an opportunity to collaborate with survey experts among the faculty of the university and with survey practitioners at the NORC, a renowned survey organization that is affiliated with the university.

For more information about our course offerings:

WWW:  http://www.stat.uchicago.edu/
E-mail:  admissions@galton.uchicago.edu
Mail:  Admissions Committee
Department of Statistics
The University of Chicago
5734 S. University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 702-0541


* By the appropriate background, we mean advanced calculus and linear algebra, a year of calculus-based probability and statistics and familiarity with some statistical data analysis. Students missing part of this background can and do gain admission to the program but should not expect to be able to complete the program in one academic year.