PhD Program


How To Apply to the PhD Program in Statistics

The PhD program welcomes applications from around the world and strives to admit well-qualified applicants who are interested in the diverse array of research interests of our faculty.

Please note that there is a single admissions process for both the regular PhD program in Statistics and the option in Biostatistics. Students who enter the PhD program in Statistics may readily switch between the programs. The Biostatistics option has slightly different course requirements, but all other program requirements are identical. Selection of the program to which you apply has very little influence on the admissions decision.

Note as well 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.

Graduate admissions involves a formal online application with a required fee, an electronic copy of your official transcripts, and various supporting materials as outlined below.

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.


Fall 2023 Admission: December 1, 2022

We do not accept Spring applications

Before applying to the Statistics Department, please read the Graduate School Frequently Asked Questions. Note that there is a non-refundable application fee, and that applicants whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score (TOEFL or IELTS).

Application Requirements

Begin your electronic application at

Letters of Recommendation

  • A minimum of three 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 our department at that time. 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:

Due to COVID-19, there have been challenges for students attempting to take the GRE. For students applying for Fall 2023, the GRE requirement is optional. Regardless of whether GRE scores are submitted, all applications will be held in equal regard.

TOEFL (or IELTS or MELAB) scores:

  • Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. TOEFL scores must be submitted electronically via ETS (to institution code 1846; it is not necessary to include a department code). IELTS scores can be submitted electronically or by paper.
  • Scores must be no more than two years old from the start of the admission term. This means that if you are applying for Fall 2020, your scores must not be older than from September 1, 2018.
  • There are some circumstances in which students are exempt from this requirement. Please see the details on the Grad School admissions requirements page at . If you are exempt from the requirement, you do not need to file any sort of waiver request. The exemption will be automatic.


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