header image: How the Program Works

The Department of Statistics at The Ohio State University offers a Master of Applied Statistics, Master of Science in Statistics, a PhD in Statistics and jointly offers a PhD in Biostatistics with the College of Public Health. Refer to our Program Guide for details on the requirements of each of our statistics programs. Information on our PhD in Biostatistics can be found on the Biostatistics program website.

Frequently Asked Questions

In What Areas Does Your Department Specialize?

The department has 25 tenure track faculty who come from diverse backgrounds and have a wide range of research interests. See our faculty profiles for details on each of our faculty. In terms of its research profile, the department aims to contribute to virtually all areas of statistical science, including the development of novel statistical theory and methodology. Specific areas of excellence include Bayesian statistics, spatio-temporal statistics, statistical learning, and biostatistics. Research is directed toward modern and emerging areas of interest. For example, in concert with the big data or data science revolution, many faculty members include high-dimensional analysis and computing as primary foci of their research programs.

What Is the Difference Between the MS and MAS?

The goal of the Master of Applied Statistics (MAS) is to prepare graduate students to enter positions in applied statistics in business, industry, and government. The MS in Statistics degree can act as either a terminal degree or as a stepping-stone to the PhD program. The requirements for this degree are more theoretical than those for the MAS. This degree program is flexible enough to provide preparation for a career in applied statistics or it can be composed entirely of the first two years of coursework for the statistics or biostatistics PhD programs.

How Many Years Does Each Degree Take to Complete?

Each master’s degree typically takes 2 years to complete, although it sometimes is possible to finish the coursework in three semesters. The PhD programs typically take about 5 years to complete although it is possible to finish in less time, depending on your dissertation progress. Most students do not take classes in the summer and many participate in internships during the summer break. We are careful to admit only students who we believe will be successful in our program. Consequently, our graduation rate is very high.

Can I Pursue the Program Online?

Our required courses are offered during daytime working hours Monday through Friday. We do not offer distance learning programs at the present time.

Who Will Be My Advisor?

Unlike some other departments, we admit students to the statistics department to work in statistics or biostatistics, but not to work with a particular faculty member. Statistics has typically been a graduate discipline and students do not usually arrive with enough background to know in what area they will eventually do their research. The Graduate Studies Chair of Statistics serves as the advisor for all master’s students through graduation. MS students who opt to pursue a thesis may choose a different advisor once a research area is established. The Graduate Studies Chair of Statistics serves as the advisor for the Statistics PhD students in their first two years and the Graduate Studies Chair of Biostatistics serves as the advisor for the new Biostatistics PhD students. We suggest that PhD students take some independent studies courses in their first two years with faculty members they might like to work with. Students, together with faculty members, decide who will be their PhD dissertation advisor(s) and committee members.

Can I Transfer Graduate Credits from Another Institution?

While we do not typically transfer credits from another institution to count towards the required credit hours for our degrees, we do not require students to repeat courses that they have taken elsewhere. However, students are required to replace those hours with alternative courses and will be responsible for the material on the departmental master's exam or qualifier exams.

If you have already completed a master’s degree in statistics elsewhere, depending on how similar that program was to ours, you may be able to take the Qualifier I exam the autumn semester of your first year and start with your second year of course work.

What Exams Are Required for the Degrees?

Students pursuing the MAS are required to pass the MAS exam generally in January of their second year. The MS degree has a thesis option and a non-thesis option. Students pursuing the MS (non-thesis option) are required to pass the MS exam generally in May of their first year.

We have two sets of qualifying exams for PhD students. Students generally take Qualifier I at the end of their first year. Some students who already have a master's in statistics take these exams as soon as they get here, but that is not the norm. Qualifier I covers the first year of PhD coursework. Qualifier II is taken in the fall of the third year. Students are also required to complete a Candidacy Exam (dissertation proposal) once course work is completed and a Final Exam to defend their dissertation in their final term.

Each of the MAS, MS, Qualifier I, and Qualifier II exams may be taken a second time if a student does not pass on the first try. If there is sufficient demand, a second offering of the exam may be given in the same academic year. Also, students can obtain copies of old exams (for a nominal charge that covers copying costs). We do have a good passing rate for the exams. We bring in students who we think can do the work and will pass the exams!