Statistics & Data Science Graduate Programs (Master's & PhDs) Online

Online Statistics Degree programs allow students to conveniently take a wide range of statistics, scientific programming and predictive analytics courses at the masters, doctoral and graduate certificate levels. Many of today’s online statistics programs mirror their campus counterparts, so if you can’t ‘get to class’, you might consider letting the class come to you.

Statistics & Data Science Graduate Programs (Masters & PhDs) Online infographic written by Rana Waxman

Types of Online Statistics Degree Programs

At the graduate level, an Online Statistics Degree might be found in a variety of areas, from applied statistics to data science or data analytics. Statistics itself is a branch of mathematics that helps make sense of information (data) with mathematical theories and methods. It is also much more, given the vast amount of digital data that we generate, and all the ways it can be utilized.

Graduate online statistics programs may emphasize one of the below areas in its curriculum, or touch on all three. Some may also narrow in on a particular application of statistics or industry. Consider your goals and interests to determine which online statistics degree is a match for you.

What is Applied Statistics?

Students who pursue an online statistics degree could learn how to apply statistics to real problems. Statistics methods can be used in business, engineering, healthcare, demography and other areas, and applied statistics programs usually target one field. Applied statistics courses could cover some of the following topics.

  • Multivariate analysis
  • Sampling
  • Spatial statistics
  • Bayesian Methods
  • SAS Programming

What is Data Science and Analytics?

Per the American Statistical Association, there is no consensus about what constitutes data science. However, there are three elements that are deemed most relevant. i

  • Database management which enables data to be transformed and organized.
  • Statistics and machine learning which convert data into usable knowledge.
  • Distributed and parallel systems which provide the computational framework for data analysis.

Data Analytics is a process that examines data sets to draw conclusions and use the information to make strategic decisions. In online data analytics programs, both statistical and computerized methods are used to describe, illustrate, condense, recap and evaluate the data. Some of the areas that might be studied while earning a data analytics degree are listed below.

  • Data mining
  • Data modeling
  • Data architecture
  • Extraction, transformation, loading (ETL) development
  • Business intelligence (BI) development

Please note, online statistics programs may cover different areas, or use different names or definitions for the topics above. Therefore it’s important to contact an admission advisor for further information and a full course list.


Statisticians are skilled mathematicians, critical thinkers, and complex problem-solvers. ii

What Does It Mean to Earn an Online Statistics Degree?

In most Online Statistics Degree programs, you complete the same graduate coursework as you would if you were on-campus and receive the same diploma, certificate and/or transcript.

Format and Structure: Formats between schools vary. In one scenario, you might follow the same timeline as the rest of the university, with some changes because it is online. Lectures are often recorded live in the classroom and then posted for distance students. Online graduate students generally keep the same homework and exam schedule as the local students, although they might need a proctor for their exams. In other online statistics programs, students might follow a modular system, or there may be multiple start dates for courses. This may allow more flexibilty in scheduling, though students will still have to meet set deadlines. These features are clarified by individual graduate schools.

Interaction: Interaction usually plays an important role, so despite that you are not in person, most statistics online courses connect learners with peers and faculty. Often, there are discussion boards, emails and live chat tools. Plus, some instructors may use video or interactive whiteboards outside the course management system where they might work with students as a group or, one-one.

Online Masters in Statistics Programs

Most online Masters in Statistics programs are offered as Master of Science (MS) and Master of Professional Studies (MPS) programs. While program lengths and course credits vary, many programs entail the completion of about 36 credits, which could take anywhere from two to four years.

While a degree plan varies from school to school, students who pursue a masters in statistics online may have to complete required courses, emphasis courses, electives and a consulting project. Students are usually tested on course content at some point in their program, and distance learners typically do this via a proctor. A thesis is also sometimes, but not always required. This may be a helpful feature for those hoping to go on to a PhD program.

Applicants need a bachelors degree and may need some prerequisite courses such as Calculus 1 and 2, and a knowledge of matrix algebra. Other material that might be required are professional references, a statement of purpose and GRE scores.

Online Master of Science in Statistics

An online Master of Science in Statistics program could provide an overview of applied and theoretical statistics. In their core courses, students could receive an introduction to SAS/R programs and study Regression, Mathematical Statistics, and Statistical Methods.

Emphasis courses and electives could help a student broaden their knowledge and focus on interests. Biostatistics, Business Analytics, and Applied Statistics are possible examples. By the end of their degree program, students may have a consulting and project course. The goal of this project is typically to help the student become familiar with the type of problems they might come across in a future professional setting. This might also give the student a chance to practice presenting results to others both verbally and in writing.

Online Master of Professional Studies in Data Analytics

In general, online Master of Professional Studies (MPS) programs blend the focused study of a master of science degree with industry-oriented topics that professionals may apply directly to their workplace. MPS in Data Analytics online programs may consist of a 30-credit curriculum. Students could learn to design, implement and apply database management techniques through a focused series of courses in data science and an emphasis on application.

Some MPS degree programs require students to take core courses in predictive analytics, data mining and applied statistics. Key prescribed courses in data storage, capture and design could help students learn how to collect and interpret data to make decisions. Electives, which might form about one third of a degree plan, allow students to frame their studies based on interests. These are chosen from a school’s syllabus, and might span topics such as risk analysis in engineering and genetic algorithms. A final project is usually required.

Online Master of Science in Applied Data Science

An online Master of Science in Applied Data Science program could help students build the knowledge and skills needed to analyze large, complex data sets. Applied data science programs usually explore statistical methods, computer programming and machine learning topics in the context of industry related problems. For instance, students could learn to assess information for various business functions like financial decision-making, investing capital, budgeting and forecasting. Bayesian Analysis, Survey Sampling, and Hypothesis Testing are some example topics of study. Key programming courses in areas such as SQL, R, Python, and SAS could help students gain a deeper grasp of information management.

Online Master of Science in Data Analytics

An online Master of Science in Data Analytics program typically examines the role of Big Data and its impact on the business world. Some courses could delve into the concepts and techniques used to design, develop, and manage the various aspects of enterprise information management. Courses in decision methods such as predictive modeling, risk assessment and optimization could help students gain a deeper grasp of how to interpret data in a specific context. An emphasis may also be placed on learning to present and deliver information, strategize and manage projects.

Online Graduate Certificates in Statistics

Some universities offer online Graduate Certificate in Applied Statistics programs which may be used as stand-alone or add-on credentials. Students might choose a general program where they could get an overview of key statistical theories and advanced SAS programming. Or they could select a program that targets the application of statistics to a specific area like business analytics, biostatistics or applied demography. Either way, an online certificate program in statistics typically consists of 10 to 12 credits, which might be completed in as little as a year of full-time study.

Applicants typically need a bachelors degree from an accredited college or university, along with possible prerequisite courses such as one semester each of Calculus 1 and Calculus 2 and a knowledge of matrix algebra. Other graduate application requirements vary between schools.

Online Graduate Certificate in Biostatistics

An online Graduate Certificate in Biostatistics might discuss issues such as drug effectiveness, risk factors of disease and infectious diseases. Students might receive an overview of key biological concepts and genomic and proteomic applications, as well as various predictive methods.

Online Graduate Certificate in Applied Demography

An online Graduate Certificate in Applied Demography might help students analyze statistical data collected from the study of human populations. Applied demography focuses on the practical uses of demographic methods and materials as they relate to decisions, analysis of trends, strategic planning and more.

Online Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics

An online Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics might help individuals learn to use data analytics to meet an organization’s business goals. Students could learn how to describe activities, diagnose why events occurred, predict what could happen, and prescribe solutions. In addition to courses in optimization and forecasting, students might gain the skills to put theory into practice in various areas of business such as marketing, supply chain management, operations and risk assessment.

Online Doctor of Statistics and Data Analytics Programs

Students who want to earn a terminal degree in statistics online might find programs that are based in computer science and big data analytics. An online Doctor of Computer Science (DCS) program may build off a related masters degree, and could help students stay current with computer science and information systems trends.

Some DCS online programs entail the completion of 96 credits and might be designed to be completed in three years of full time study. In their first year, students might study foundational topics in data base systems and business intelligence, along with research methods and qualitative techniques. With basic courses under their belt, the second year is often where students explore one area within the broader discipline to help them focus their own research. The final year is often when students complete their final concentration and doctoral research courses.

Statistics Careers: An Outlook

Graduates of an online statistics degree program might be prepared to pursue a variety of career paths in government, scientific research, finance, insurance, management and academia. Most statisticians need a masters degree in statistics, mathematics or another quantitative field, although some may enter the field with a bachelors degree. Careers in academia and research though, usually require a PhD. The BLS forecasts a 34 percent rise in employment for statisticians from now to the year 2024. Per their projections, “Graduates with a master’s degree in statistics and a strong background in a related discipline, such as finance, biology, engineering, or computer science, are projected to have the best prospects of finding jobs in their field of study”.iii

Accredited Online Statistics Degree Programs

Many regionally accredited universities offer online statistics degree programs. Regional accreditation is the process in which an outside agency conducts a quality assurance review of a higher education institution and its programs. The focus of the review is usually on faculty, course content, and student facilities. Students who attend an accredited university might have a smoother transfer process if they are interested in transferring to another institution or program. Also, federal financial aid grants are only available for accredited schools.

Find Your Online Statistics Program

Earn a graduate certificate, doctorate or masters in statistics degree online while you maintain your busy lifestyle. Easily compare online statistics degree programs at the certificate, master and doctoral levels right here. Use the on-page tools to generate a list of programs, then contact schools right away.

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  • Northcentral University

  • Grand Canyon University

  • Colorado State University Global Campus

  • Notre Dame of Maryland University

  • Seton Hall University

  • Carroll University

  • Montclair State University

  • Johns Hopkins University

  • Colorado State University

  • Southern New Hampshire University