FAQs for Undergraduates and Graduates

Questions for undergraduate students

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What can I do with a statistics major after I graduate?

Well-trained statisticians are in strong demand and have excellent employment prospects. Statisticians work in industry and business, in government, and in universities and other research institutions (see this career packet)

In most cases an undergraduate major in Statistics can find employment as a quantitative analyst or other “generalist” position. A number of our graduates have been successful following this path. However, in most cases, positions aimed at “professional statisticians” require a Masters (or PhD) degree. As a “professional statistician”, typical employment in industry might be as a statistical consultant to biologists, engineers and/or other scientists in a research and development branch of a large company.

The single, best place to look for statistics jobs is the American Statistical Association Career Center. Consult with a statistics undergraduate advisor about the best fit for you.

Statistical training is seen as very desirable in many other areas (e.g., agricultural, biological, engineering, and social sciences, business, and economics) where the primary activity may not be statistics. In view of this, Statistics may often be a strong choice for a second or additional major.

I took a statistics course at another university and received elective credit as Stat X14 , X16, etc. Does this count as a course for the major? Can I receive credit for Stat 302, Stat 309, etc. ?

Occasionally, statistics courses taken at other institutions are evaluated as statistics electives here because there was insufficient information (lack of syllabus or course description) to provide an equivalent UW –Madison course credit. On other occasions, the credit conversion between the institution at which the course was taken and UW-Madison results in a course with less than the 3 credits needed for most Statistics Department courses. It is possible in SOME circumstances that these courses can be counted towards the statistics major. It is important for transfer students to speak with a statistics advisor for guidance with this. Please note that the Statistics Department does NOT assign course equivalencies for transfer courses. Questions on receiving equivalent course credit must be directed to the Office of Admissions.

Which introductory statistics course should I take?

For those declared in Statistics Fall 2019 or after, Stat 302, 324, 371, or 301 can count toward the major requirement. It is highly encouraged for Statistics Majors to enroll in Stat 302 as the introductory statistic course.

For those declared in Statistics prior to Fall 2019, Stat 302 is the only introductory course that will count toward the major requirement. If you have already completed another introductory statistics course at UW-Madison such as Stat 224, 301, 324, or 371 you should speak with a statistics advisor.

Which computer science course should I take?

CS 300 is highly recommended because it will be beneficial in most future careers. Students who have prior computing experience equivalent to CS 200 (such as AP computer science) are recommended to take CS 300, and students who will pursue a second major in computer science must take CS 300 & 400 to satisfy the computer science major requirements.

I am thinking graduate studies in statistics. Which courses should I take?

  1. The most important areas of mathematics for advanced statistical training are linear algebra and real analysis. Students intending to apply to a graduate program in statistics should consider taking at least Math 521 along with other advanced, proof-based math courses.
  2. Much of modern statistics relies heavily on computer-intensive methods. The ability to manipulate large data sets is important. Students may wish to consider taking additional courses in computer science. CS 367 is an important “next” course.
  3. Exposure to some field of scientific thinking is of considerable importance for statisticians. Thus, students should use available opportunities to gain experience in at least one such field.

I took the Stat 311 and 312 sequence for mathematical statistics. Does this count towards Stat 309 and 310 for the major?

Math 431 or Stat 311 will be accepted as equivalents for Stat 309. Stat 312 will NOT be accepted as meeting the Stat 310 requirement.

I took Math 211 and Math 213 instead of Math 221 – 222 – 234. What should I do?

Math 211 and 213 will not be accepted as equivalent to any of the required math courses. Students who have completed this sequence are encouraged to take the Math Department’s Calculus Exam to determine placement in the Math 221, 222, 234 sequence. Placement in – and completion with a grade of C or higher of – a course above Math 221 will constitute satisfying the requirements for those calculus courses below the course into which the student is placed. Thus, if a student places into Math 222 and earns a grade of C or higher in this course, the Math 221 requirement will be considered as satisfied.

Are there any online courses that I can enroll in?

Online courses taught for credit at UW – Madison can be found by using the Course Search & Enroll and selecting the Mode of Instruction as desired.

International students who hold F-1 or J-1 visas have restrictions on the number of online courses that can be taken during a semester. For details students should consult International Student Services’ Online Course Enrollment.

Students can also take online courses offered by other institutions. Courses taken at other institutions while a student is concurrently enrolled in courses at UW – Madison need academic dean’s approval for Letters & Science students. Note that under no circumstances can a student enroll in more than 20 credits (13 summer term) including concurrent enrollment, and any enrollment over 18 credits in the fall and spring term (12 credits for summer term) needs dean’s approval for credit overload. Students who choose a credit overload will incur higher tuition and fees.

If you are considering enrolling in an online course from another institution, it is strongly recommended that you speak with your advisor.

Are there any statistics internships available?

The Statistics Department does not currently maintain a database of internships. Internship listings for students in the College of Letters and Sciences are available via HandshakeSuccessWorks also offers lots of resources, such as a the LS 260 course to get academic credit with your internship, tips & tools for resumes and interviews, and a tech, data & analytics community.

Questions for prospective graduate students

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What are the Statistics Department and Graduate School addresses?

Statistics Department
Medical Sciences Center
1300 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706

Graduate School Admissions
(Please – Send NO applications materials
to this address except for fees)
217 Bascom Hall
500 Lincoln Drive
Madison WI 53706

Can I delay or waive the application fee?

No, the fee is required of all applicants with very few exceptions. See https://grad.wisc.edu/admissions/feegrants/ for more information.

Is there a separate application form for financial support?

No. All applications that are complete by the December 1st deadline for the following fall will be reviewed for department financial support consideration. You will be notified by the Admissions Committee of their decision as soon as possible.

Is there a supplemental application?

A supplemental application is required as part of the online application. You will be asked to answer the following questions and provide the following information:

  • Are you applying to the Biostatistics option? Yes/No
  • List any major competitive honors, awards, and/or fellowships you have received.
  • List any undergraduate or graduate research experiences.
  • List the most advanced math and statistics courses you have completed, are currently taking, or plan to take before coming to UW-Madison. So that we can better evaluate your quantitative training, please list all the economics, math and statistics courses you have taken. Include the textbook(s) used, course number, course title, and your grade for the class. If possible, cite the corresponding Math or Stat department course at UW-Madison. Put this in a list or table format and upload your document as a pdf.

What kind of background is suitable for admission to Statistics?

Students holding a bachelor’s degree in statistics or in mathematics with some scientific background are encouraged to apply. Also students holding a bachelor’s degree with a natural science, social science, or engineering major and strong mathematical background are encouraged to apply. Students are advised to undertake graduate work in statistics only if their undergraduate grades in mathematics were uniformly high.

What kind of math courses are required?

Applicants need a minimum of three semesters of calculus and a course in linear algebra (similar to UW’s Math 340) to be considered. In addition, a course in real analysis/advanced calculus that covers calculus of several variables (similar to UW’s Math 521) is highly recommended for both MS and PhD. A widely used textbook that covers Math 521 material is Rudin (Principles of Mathematical Analysis). [A lower level course such as UW’s Math 421 is a good start for MS applicants, but Math 521 should be taken here to build technical skills.]

PhD students are expected to have had an introduction to measure and integration theory with proofs (similar to UW’s Math 629). Books that cover Measure & Integration Proofs are Royden (Real Analysis) and Ash (Real Analysis and Probability).

How do these math courses prepare me for UW's graduate program in statistics/biostatistics?

Math 340 and Math 521 are sufficient for our MS program. Math 521 is important training for the Stat 609-610 math stat sequence, while Math 340 helps with the Stat 849-850 linear models sequence. PhD students need a proof-based course that goes beyond the real line to include more general measure theory. Successful PhD students should perform at A-level in Math 521 and Math 629. Motivated students may build the Math 629 training while here, but gaps in Math 521 material are difficult to overcome at the PhD level.

How many transcripts must I send to the department?

Do not send official transcripts (paper copies) to the department at the time of application. Instead, as part of the online application, please upload a clear and easy-to-read PDF copy of your transcript from each institution of higher learning (post High School) that you have attended. If we offer you admission, you will be asked to provide an official (paper) copy of your transcript to our department at that time. Admission will be contingent upon our receiving the official (paper) transcript. However, for purposes of evaluating your application, all that is required is the electronic copy. If courses at the institution were not taught in English, we will need an electronic copy of both the transcript in the original language, and the transcript in English.

Can I use GMAT in place of GRE scores?

No, we accept only general GRE scores that are less than five years old. Send official scores to institution code 1846.

Is the subject GRE required?

No. We require the general GRE which includes verbal, quantitative and analytical writing assessment.

Is there a minimum GRE score required?

No. Your score will be evaluated comparatively with all the applicants for any given term. The higher the score, the better your chance of being accepted, although your score is only one facet of your total application packet used to determine admission.

Am I required to submit TOEFL scores?

Some applicants are required to submit TOEFL (or IELTS) scores. The department follows the Graduate School guidelines. To determine if you need to submit TOEFL scores, please see “English Proficiency” section at https://grad.wisc.edu/admissions/requirements/.

Should I mail recommendation letters with my application materials?

No. Recommendation letters are now done electronically, along with your application. See more detailed instructions on this process on our How to Apply page.

I am interested in Biostatistics. Where do I apply?

You apply through the Statistics Department and indicate your interest in Biostatistics in your Statement of Purpose and on the supplemental application.

When and how will I find out if I have been accepted?

Depending on the number of applications the process normally takes until the end of February for all decisions to be made. According to the Council of Graduate Schools you have until April 15 to return your response.

Will you email me the results of the Admissions Committee decision?

Yes, you will receive the decision via the email address you listed in your application. If we recommend your admission to the Graduate School, you will also receive a letter in the mail. We do not give results over the phone due to privacy rules.

When can I expect my I-20?

For international students the I-20 is mailed from the Graduate School only after it has received the Statistics Department recommendation for admission AND after the Graduate School has reviewed your file to check for validity of undergraduate education degree, as well as receipt of all of their required paperwork, including a certified financial statement, residency verification, etc. Please respond promptly to the Graduate School’s individual request in their correspondence with you after acceptance by the department.
In the initial stage of application, send only the application fee directly to the Graduate School. They will inform you when you need to send additional material.

Where can I get information on housing, transportation, directions, financial aid, etc.?

Please see the website grad.wisc.edu to explore this information.