Statistics topics you can expect to encounter include: algebra, calculus, number theory, probability theory, game theory, data collection and sampling methods, and statistical modelling. Fields of specialization will vary depending on the statistics degree you choose. At master’s level, you may be able to spend the entirety of your program focusing on just one of the areas below; at undergraduate level, you could have the option to study statistics in several or all of these fields.
Biometry is a specialization focusing on the development and application of statistical analysis to biology and biological phenomena. While biostatistics deals with human biology in particular, biometry gathers data concerning plant, animal and agricultural biology. Students who specialize in biometry will study both statistics and biology, and will have the option to pursue a career in either field, or spanning both. They will also learn how to solve problems in various social sciences using statistical methods.
Another popular specialization, forensic statistics uses statistical techniques and models to interpret scientific evidence used in criminal cases. Forensic statisticians analyze various types of evidence – including bodily fluids and objects collected by the police – and use probability calculations, or other types of statistical measure, to provide reports on ‘likelihood ratios’. This information is then used by judges, juries and others involved in making decisions about criminal cases.
The discipline of medical statistics involves applying statistics to the field of medicine and healthcare. Medical statistics plays a central role in healthcare research, supporting the design and interpretation of clinical trials. It’s also used in epidemiology (analysis of health and disease patterns within a population), to support public health policies, and in the pharmaceutical sector. Medical statistics is also sometimes known as biostatistics, though the latter can have a broader field of reference.
Specializing in operational research will prepare you to solve problems related to the way various organizations operate. You will learn to develop and present models and charts which represent the organization’s functioning and operational environment. These will then help you identify problematic areas and suggest solutions to challenges, which would otherwise have been difficult to discover. You could study operational research as a part of your bachelor’s degree, or you may choose to enroll on a specialized postgraduate course in the field.
Another popular statistics specialization is predicative analytics. This deals with statistical techniques and models including data mining, multivariate statistics, machine learning and database processing. Specialists in this area analyze current and historical facts, in order to make predictions about future events. The skills you gain would be good preparation for careers in actuarial science, marketing, financial services, insurance, telecommunications, retail, travel, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, as well as other fields.
If you specialize in statistical computing (also called computational statistics), you’ll focus on the role played by statistics in the field of computer science. Within this dynamic and fast-developing field, you could specialize in areas such as information processing and retrieval, programming, software development, artificial intelligence and machine learning, database design and management, and algorithm design and analysis.
You may also be interested in our guide to mathematics >