The Department of Mathematics houses the graduate degree programs in Statistics at Washington University. We offer a Ph.D. in Statistics, and an A.M. in Statistics. Click here for the official Department of Mathematics page about these programs, and information about how to apply. Here we provide much of the same information.

Ph.D. in Statistics

The Ph.D. in Statistics is designed to train world-class researchers in statistical theory, methodology, computation, and applications.

Course Requirements: Students must pass 4 qualifying exams, which correspond to 4 year-long course sequences. Three of these qualifying courses are required: Math 5061-5062 (Theory of Statistics), and Math 439-4392 (Linear Models), and Math 5051-5052 (Measure Theory and Functional Analysis). The fourth qualifying course is chosen from three mathematics sequences: Math 5021-5022 (Complex Analysis), Math 5031-5032 (Algebra), or Math 5041-504 (Geometry). Students will also take several elective courses. Options include Math 459 (Bayesian Statistics), Math 460 (Multivariate Statistics), Math 461 (Time Series Analysis), Math 462 (Mathematical Foundations of Big Data), Math 475 (Statistical Computation), Math 495 (Stochastic Processes), and many other courses approved by our department. By the end of the third year, students must have completed oral exams in two subjects. These presentations, followed by questions from faculty, typically are related to an independent study course directed by a faculty member. The topics of these oral exams typically form the foundation of the student’s subsequent doctoral research. Students must also fulfill a language requirement, and the Graduate School’s teaching requirement.

Applications: Students must apply through The Graduate School website. The application deadlines are listed on that website. The deadline can change from year-to-year, but it is usually around the end of December for admission for the fall semester of the following year.

Admissions Requirements: Ordinarily, admitted students will have a first degree in mathematics or statistics. Degrees in other fields are also acceptable, provided that the student has taken enough mathematics and statistics coursework. We generally do not admit students without demonstrated proficiency in undergraduate-level probability, mathematical statistics, real analysis and linear algebra. A GPA of at least 3.5 in upper-level mathematics and statistics courses is expected.

Funding: Every student that we admit is guaranteed funding for 5 years, through fellowships, teaching assistantships, and stipends. Additional funding during the summer is often available, though not guaranteed. A major advantage of our program is that first-year Ph.D. students have no duties at all; students only focus on coursework. Beginning in the second year, students will serve as teaching assistants, graders, or research assistants. Our funding for students includes tuition, and a monthly stipend which is more than enough to live comfortably in St. Louis. The cost-of-living is relatively low in St. Louis, compared to other major U.S. cities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

  1. What are the admissions criteria?
    We carefully review all transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, and personal statements. (a) Of particular importance are the mathematics and statistics courses on your transcript. (b) It is helpful if your letters of recommendation demonstrate that the letter writer knows you well, especially your academic abilities, and your reasons for pursuing a Ph.D. in Statistics. (c) While standardized tests are an imperfect measure of research potential, you should try your best. (d) A good personal statement demonstrates that you have some familiarity with research in statistics, and that you genuinely are interested in our program. Undergraduate theses are usually not as valuable as additional courses in mathematics (with good grades), but undergraduate research can be helpful in giving you exposure to papers published in peer-reviewed statistics journals.
  2. What is your ranking?
    We do not appear in the most popular rankings of Statistics Departments, primarily because we are not a Statistics Department. Our Ph.D. in Statistics is within the Department of Mathematics, which is consistently ranked among the top 40 departments in the United States.
  3. Where do your students go after graduation?
    Like most Ph.D. programs in Statistics, our students follow diverse paths after graduation. In recent years, roughly 40% placed into academic jobs at major research universities, such as Peking University and Indiana University, and 60% placed into private sector jobs, with employers such as Google and Merck.