PhD Program

PhD Statistics Program Options

There are two program options students can select from – PhD Statistics, Statistics Option or PhD Statistics, Biostatistics Option

We have a single admissions process for both options and we 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 PhD program may readily switch between the programs. 

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

Statistics Option

Career Outcomes: Students will be prepared for research and teaching careers in academia, industry, and other disciplines.

Coursework: Students will take courses in several broad areas of statistical methods and theory. This includes two-semester sequences in mathematical statistics and in statistical methods, either a course in probability theory or a course in statistical computing, a statistical consulting course, and a wide variety of elective options.

Biostatistics Option

Career Outcomes: Students will be prepared for careers in clinical research, genetics, drug testing, and experimental design in academia, government, and private sector.

Coursework: Students in the Biostatistics named option complete the same required courses as are in the Statistics named option, but have additional required coursework in biostatistics and biology and fewer elective course requirements.

Applying to the PhD Statistics Program

The application deadline is December 1 for a fall term start (no spring admissions). A reminder to only list either the Statistics Option or Biostatistics Option in your application, not both. Again, students who enter the PhD program in Statistics can readily switch between the programs.

We welcome applications from around the world and strive to admit well-qualified applicants who are interested in the diverse array of research interests of our faculty. 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.

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.

To be considered for financial assistantship, all required application materials listed below should be submitted via the electronic application at by the December 1 deadline.

  • 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 at that time. Admission will be contingent upon 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.
  • Your statement of purpose should 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.

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

The GRE is not required.

Consult the Graduate School for general information about graduate admissions to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

If you have any further questions, please email Please include your full name and what semester you are interested in applying for.