Studying statistics at university is likely to be challenging, requiring mastery of complex skills and advanced data collection and analysis methods. Yet the basic principles underlying the subject are actually fairly simple: collect data, organize it, analyze it, and deliver an interpretation. The resulting information is used to influence major decisions in a wide range of sectors, from politics to pharmaceuticals, and from advertising to insurance.
Commonly taught within university mathematics departments, statistics is in many ways an offshoot of the mathematical field of probability – and a strong background in mathematics is essential for anyone considering applying for a statistics degree. However, studying statistics will also often entail some overlap with social sciences subjects such as economics, sociology, accounting and finance – all fields in which statistical methods play a key role.
What do statistics degrees cover?
At undergraduate level, statistics degrees are likely to cover a wide variety of topics. First, you will study probability and introductory statistical methods, introducing the ideas of likelihood and regression modelling. Other statistics topics which may be covered include experimental design, inference, computational inference, sampling and databases, biostatistics, environmental statistics and financial statistics. Throughout the course, you will gain experience in working as part of a team, and learn how to use specialized computer software.
Entry requirements for statistics degrees
If applying to study statistics, you will be required to have very strong academic background in mathematics. Most universities offering statistics degrees require excellent grades in mathematics and at least one more science. Apart from that, it may be an advantage if you have good knowledge in using various types of computer software, and some ideas about potential statistics careers you’d be interested in. If you plan on studying abroad, you may also need to present a certificate of language proficiency.
Course structure and assessment methods
At bachelor’s level, statistics degrees usually last for three or four years, depending on the country, while a master’s degree lasts for one or two years. The course is typically taught through a combination of lectures and seminars. Students will also engage in various projects and research, either working as small teams or independently. Tasks may include delivering presentations and writing up different types of coursework. Assessment is usually based on written and/or oral exams, coursework and projects.
Discover the world’s top universities for statistics >