MS Program

The MS Statistics program aims to produce excellent statistical consultants who will pursue a career as a practicing statistician in industry, government, or academia. We provide excellent training in the modern theory, methods and applications of statistics with emphasis on statistical consulting with individuals from other disciplines.

Graduates are prepared for positions in university teaching, business, or government or for continuing education in a PhD program. The department strives to support students in the MS program as teaching assistants.

Students interested in pursuing statistical research should apply to the Statistics PhD program. The MS Statistics program enrolls many fewer students than the MS Statistics, Statistics and Data Science (MSDS) option and MS Data Science (MDS) programs.

Excellent written and verbal English communication ability, knowledge and interest in broad areas of science, and previous collaborative experience with non-statisticians are common characteristics of successful applicants.

Questions about our MS Statistics Programs can be directed to our graduate program coordinator at Please include your full name and what semester you are interested in applying for.
Consult the Graduate School for general information about graduate admissions to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Students will take courses in several broad areas of statistical methods and theory. This includes mathematical statistics, statistical inference, a two-semester sequence in linear models and design of experiments, and statistical consulting.

In addition to coursework, the MS Statistics program requires passing a practical statistical consulting exam (MS Exam) which involves analyzing two sets of real world data, interviewing two clients, writing reports, and orally defending the reports to a committee of faculty. Due to the nature of this exam, the program has a modest size.

See the graduate guide for full list of courses.

There are two program options students can select from – MS Statistics, Statistics Option or MS Statistics, Biostatistics OptionWe encourage applicants to select only one of the options and not list both when applying. Selection of the program to which you apply has very little influence on the admissions decision. If you are unsure of which program option to choose, students who enter our MS program may readily switch between the programs. 

The Statistics Option prepares students to be a practicing statistician in industry, government, or academia. They will take courses in mathematical statistics, statistical inference, a two-semester sequence in linear models and design of experiments, and statistical consulting.

The Biostatistics Option prepares students for careers in clinical research, genetics, drug testing, and experimental design in academia, government, and private sector. They will take courses in mathematical statistics, statistical inference, a two-semester sequence in linear models and design of experiments, and statistical consulting. In addition, students will also take two courses in biostatistics (clinical trials and epidemiological studies) and survival analysis methodology.

Please note that the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics has a separate MS in Biomedical Data Science that is distinct from the programs in the Department of Statistics.

Click here to view the Statistics MS Handbook 2023/2024.

Click here to view the MS Current Regulations.

The application deadline is January 2 for a fall term start (no spring admissions).

Before applying to the Statistics Department, please read the Graduate School Frequently Asked Questions. Note that there is a non-refundable application fee.

Applicants whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score.

Admissions Pathways into the MS Statistics Program

There are two pathways into the MS in Statistics program and a single admissions process with a deadline of January 2.

Students who are not already enrolled in a graduate program at UW-Madison apply through the Graduate School. We do not make preliminary evaluations of any applicant inquiry based on email communication. No decision will be made until after the deadline has passed and a completed file (including the application fee) has been received. 

Students already enrolled in a UW-Madison graduate program who wish to add a major in Statistics have a simpler application process with the Department of Statistics directly. Such applications are reviewed prior to the start of each semester. Students who add the major are typically not provided financial support from the department.

How to apply for students not already enrolled in a graduate program at UW-Madison

Begin your electronic application at

All application materials (including the application fee) must be received by the fall admission deadline to be considered for financial assistantship.

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Letters of Recommendation

  • A minimum of three (3) letters of recommendation to be submitted electronically by the recommenders.
  • The online application for admission asks for the name and email contact information of the references from whom you request recommendations. A recommendation request will be sent, by email, to each of your references. The email will include your name with a link to each department’s electronic recommendation form. The request can be sent at any time providing you meet department deadlines. You can change references or send a reminder through your application.
  • It is common practice to contact your references ahead of time so that they expect your request.
  • After you have submitted your application, you can view receipt of your recommendations through the online status system.


  • 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. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable. If we offer you admission, you will be asked to provide an official copy of your transcript to the Graduate School. Admission will be contingent upon our receiving the official transcript.
  • 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.

Statement of Purpose

  • Your statement of purpose include why you feel that the UW-Madison program is a good fit for you, and conversely, why you are a good fit for our program. What are you hoping to work on in the field with your degree? Are there any professors here that you would particularly like to work with? Any research areas in statistics that particularly excite you?
  • The overall length of the statement is usually about 2 pages, single or double spaced. You can use whatever font and formatting you are comfortable with.

CV or Resumé

Please upload a PDF copy of your CV or Resumé to the online application.

Supplemental Application (Including a List of Courses)

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 (There is no advantage to applying to both programs.)
  • List any major competitive honors, awards, and/or fellowships you have received.
  • List any undergraduate or graduate research experiences.
  • Provide a table with all courses you have taken, are currently taking, or plan to take prior to coming to UW-Madison that contain substantial mathematical, statistical, quantitative, or computational content. Include courses from other disciplines such as economics, physics, or engineering, if applicable. Use one row per course with columns for the course number, course title, textbook used (if possible), and grade received (if already completed). Upload this document as a pdf.

GRE Scores

The GRE is not required.

English Proficiency

How to apply for students already enrolled in a graduate program at UW-Madison

Contact and ask for more information on how to provide the admissions materials.

We will wish to see:

  • admission materials from your current program
  • a statement of purpose
  • at least one letter of recommendation from a UW faculty member
  • a table of previous coursework
  • copies of transcripts