Master of Science Requirements

Master of Science in Statistics

Some students enter our program with the intent of obtaining a Master of Science (MS) degree and then entering the job market. Students with a bachelor’s degree who enter the program with the desire to complete the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) often complete the MS degree first, since all MS core courses are also required for the PhD. All students seeking the MS degree must complete the same set of core requirements.

The MS degree requires 34 credits, which must include at least three 500 or 600 level statistics courses beyond the core. During or after the final semester of course work, students take an oral exam on work completed for the creative component (a capstone project). This is the “Final Examination” mentioned in the Graduate Catalog.

Advanced calculus (at least through Calculus III) and linear algebra are required background courses, and knowledge of this material is expected of students in the MS program. Most students have completed these or equivalent courses prior to admission. Much of the second year of the Master of Science program consists of elective courses determined by the student and his or her major professor. In addition to completing the required course credits, the student must pass a written exam, write a creative component, and pass a final oral exam which includes a discussion of the creative component.

If English is not a student’s native language he or she will be required to take an English exam at the start of the first semester of graduate study. Based on the results of this exam, the student may be required to take one or more English courses. Other language requirements, if any, will be established by the Program of Study Committee and major professor.

Core Courses
All students seeking the degree Master of Science in Statistics are required to know the material in the core courses (Stat 500, 510, 520, 542, 543 and 579). Most on-campus students complete the Master of Science program in two years; distance students generally complete the program in about 5 years.  A typical on-campus program of study is shown below. (A distance program of study contains the exact same courses, but is typically spread out over about 5 years by taking 1 course per semester.)

Fall-Year One
Stat 500 (4 cr) Statistical Methods I
Stat 542 (4 cr) Theory of Probability and Statistics I
Stat 579 (1 cr) Introduction to Statistical Computing

Spring-Year One
Stat 510 (3 cr) Statistical Methods II
Stat 543 (3 cr) Theory of Probability and Statistics II
Elective (3 cr)

Fall-Year Two
Stat 520 (3 cr) Statistical Methods III
Electives (3-6 cr)

Spring-Year Two
Electives (3-9 cr)

Major Professor and Program of Study Committee
Candidates for the MS degree work with a major professor to complete the creative component . Although the timing is somewhat variable, most students seek agreement from a faculty member to serve as their major professor sometime near the end of the first year, or at the beginning of the second year. This provides a student some time to become familiar with the faculty members in the department, their research programs, and their areas of application. A Program of Study Committee is formed shortly after a major professor has been determined and contains the major professor and two additional members, subject to agreement of the faculty asked to form the committee and approval of the Director of Graduate Education. One member of the committee should work in areas outside those emphasized in the creative component. The Program of Study Committee approves the list of 34 credit hours of course work that a student will apply toward the MS degree (the official Program of Study) and conducts the final oral examination.

MS Written Exam
All MS students must pass a two-part written examination: a methods exam (Part 1) and a theory exam (Part 2). Examinations are held in mid-May with methods given in the morning (8:30-12:00) and theory given in the afternoon (1:30-5:00). On-campus MS students are expected to take this exam at the end of their first year of study. Students are allowed two attempts at passing the exam. A third and final attempt may be given upon the recommendation of the student’s major professor. The results of this exam will be of the form: Pass, Conditional Pass, or Fail. These assessments will be given independently for the Methods and Theory parts. Hence, it is possible to pass part of the MS Exam and repeat only one part the next time.

Creative Component
Each candidate for the MS degree is required to write a paper representing the creative component of the degree program. This may be, but is not restricted to, a literature review, a report of independent research, the design and (or) analysis of a sample survey, experiment or other scientific study, a report on consulting with research workers outside the department, or a report on the construction of a computer program requiring statistical numerical analysis. Pursuant to the requirements of the Graduate College, this should be explicitly identified on the Program of Study as Stat 599 with between 2 and 4 credits. The paper shall be distributed as a typed manuscript to the student’s committee by the student at least ten days before the final oral examination.

Maintaining Academic Standing
Students must maintain a 3.0 (B) average to remain a candidate for a degree. Failure to do this can result in being placed on academic probation. Academic probation can have implications for tuition scholarships and require additional permission to allow registration in subsequent semesters. A student cannot receive a graduate degree without removing academic probation by achieving an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Students who fail to reach a 3.0 average during their first semester of graduate study are given a one semester grace period to improve their grades before being placed on academic probation.

Final Oral Exam
Each candidate for the MS degree must take a final oral exam, conducted by the candidate’s Program of Study Committee. Part of this exam may be a discussion of the creative component.

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