Mathematics and Statistics graduate programs award various graduate certificates, masters degrees, and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in mathematics, statistics and actuarial science. A graduate degree in math and statistics could help students hone their skills and conduct research in a specific area, from linear algebra and number theory to machine learning and applied data science.
written by Rana Waxman
The primary goal of most Mathematics and Statistics graduate programs is to prepare students to pursue careers in disciplines that make use of mathematical and statistical sciences. Graduates could gain the tools and techniques to compute, communicate and engage in quantitative analysis. These are key skills that might be used to help solve some of today’s complex problems in science, engineering and management.^{i}
Universities with Mathematics and Statistics graduate programs vary in their admission requirements. Most curricula are intended for those with strong backgrounds in mathematics, although this does not necessarily mean a bachelors degree in math. Applicants to some statistics graduate programs might come from a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) background, or a background in a quantitative-oriented field such as finance, accounting, business or management.
Some math graduate schools ask for material such as curriculum vitae, transcripts, and letters of recommendations. These letters might best serve you if they are from past instructors who could attest to your mathematical or statistical ability. TOEFL/IELTS test results are required where applicable. GRE scores may also be required in some programs. Check with individual schools for full instructions on the application process.
The diversity of mathematics graduate programs and statistics degrees means there are paths that explore computational methods for use in many fields. These could include math education, demography, health informatics, business analytics, financial crime and more. To find Mathematics and Statistics Graduate Programs that might align with your goals, you could filter your search by category and degree level. Three broad types of programs are as follows.
A graduate degree in Math Statistics addresses the application of mathematics to statistics. Applied math and statistics courses could touch on the following four topics.
Mathematics graduate programs could award either a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree in Math, a PhD in Mathematics, or a Graduate Certificate in Mathematics. Covering a broad field, a degree in mathematics could mean you study modeling, financial mathematics, logic, computing and statistics.
A Masters in Mathematics program could prepare students in either pure or applied mathematics. Pure mathematics is theoretical, in that it is used to solve problems that arise within the field of mathematics. Applied mathematics is concerned with problems that arise in other areas, such as physics or engineering.
The two main tracks that could be pursued are the Master of Arts in Mathematics and the Master of Science in Mathematics. There may or may not be substantive differences in coursework. This depends on the university and its requirements.
A Graduate Mathematics Certificate consists of a series of graduate courses focused on a specific area or application of math. These could be planned-out for those who seek the credentials required to teach collegiate courses.
Students might earn a certificate in addition to, or as part of, a masters degree. The classes in a math graduate certificate may build on some prerequisite knowledge and cover linear algebra, advanced calculus, abstract algebra, real analysis, modern geometry and statistics.
The PhD in Mathematics is a research-focused, terminal degree. Requirements for a PhD could include residency, coursework, exams, teaching practice and a dissertation. Students might take courses in algebra, real and complex analysis, geometry and topology. Further into the program, topics such as number theory, representation theory and algebraic geometry might be explored. After their courses, students often need to successfully pass exams. Upon satisfactory results in exams, a PhD student could be admitted to candidacy for the PhD, and then focuses on research for their dissertation. The dissertation is a body of original scholarly work that is orally defended by the student for review and evaluation by the doctoral committee.
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In private industry, mathematicians typically need an advanced degree, either a master’s degree or a doctorate.^{ii}
Statistic Graduate programs could lead to a PhD or other doctorate degree, a Master of Arts, Master of Science or Master of Professional Studies degree, or a graduate certificate in Statistics. Statisticians use a variety of methods to collect and analyze data that could be useful in education, marketing, healthcare, research and more.^{iii} Statistics degrees could cover several areas to support these efforts, including applied statistics, data analysis, data science, data engineering, applied demography and business analytics, among others.
Masters in Statistics programs could help students learn to use math and statistical theory and methods to gain usable numerical data. With applications to many fields, statistics grad students might want to look for a program that addresses one field, or accommodates specific interests through electives. Many statistics degrees are flexible enough to mirror interests in business, computing, economics, engineering, health, operations research, and biological and social sciences. There are also several forms of the masters degree in statistics to consider.
A Master of Science in Data Analytics program could focus on the strategic and advanced uses of data analytics across a broad range of industries. In some programs, students might take courses in data mining, visualization, modeling, optimization and the ethical uses of data. Other programs could explore financial accounting, multivariate analysis and business analytics. Apart from instruction, some MS Analytics degrees might entail a practicum which could help students develop their ability to manage projects, work in teams, and practice data security skills. Some programs could also require a final project.
Graduate Certificates in Statistics are typically short-term programs that target a few courses such as regression analysis and experimental design. Certificates could provide a boost for individuals who have a bachelors degree and want to refine skills or learn new methods. More advanced certificates in applied statistics are intended for engineers, scientists, analysts, and other professionals who want a solid education in the statistical methods that are relevant to their work.
Statistics PhD programs are terminal and research-focused degrees. To enter a statistics PhD program, students may need a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, or a closely related discipline.
PhD in Statistics programs take students through rigorous courses in the theory, methodology, and application of statistics. Coursework could cover areas such as probability, mathematical statistics and applied statistics. Also, students might have the opportunity to work with faculty on advanced research in a wide range of topics and write a dissertation. Typically, students must successfully pass exams on course material before they move onto their dissertation research.
By contrast, a Doctor of Computer Science with an emphasis on big data analytics is a terminal and practice-focused degree. This type of program could help students develop their expertise in the tools and techniques used to analyze data. Coursework could cover advanced computer science and information systems topics. Aside from instructional courses, students might take doctoral research courses. In some universities, the final dissertation could be an extensive written document that includes literature review, a major study and a proposal for further inquiry.
Actuarial Science graduate programs or Financial Engineering programs cover the analysis of the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. Actuaries use mathematics, statistics and financial theory to assess risks and then help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of these risk. This type of work is often used in the insurance industry and much of it is done with database software.^{iv}
Some schools might offer a Master of Science in Mathematics degree with a focus in Actuarial Science. To enter a program, students may need a bachelors degree in mathematics, statistics, physics, engineering, quantitative economics or a related field. While variable, coursework in a MS in Actuarial Science program could help graduates prepare to take professional exams given by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). For instance, students could study advanced statistics, finance, investing, accounting and economics.
A PhD in Actuarial Science is a terminal research degree. In some universities, this type of degree might be offered as an Actuarial Science major within a PhD Mathematics program. This could mean students research actuarial science topics for their dissertation. In terms of coursework, students might take several math classes, as well as probability, risk theory and real and complex analysis courses.
As the amount of digitally stored data grows and statistical analysis begins to inform decisions across many industries, the BLS estimates a 28 percent growth in employment for math occupations to 2024. Included in this group are actuaries, mathematicians, operations research analysts and statisticians.^{v}
Mathematics and Statistics Graduate Programs may be available online and on-campus. Online graduate programs in Mathematics and Statistics may help you balance coursework with your professional and personal life. Campus programs could be a great way to take part in seminars, network and learn in a hands-on setting, especially if your university hosts lectures and conferences. Ultimately, any format could be great if it is one you are able to commit to, but certainly, use your preferences and the on-page menus to filter search results.
Do you want to use math and analysis to solve complex issues in business, engineering, healthcare? Is your goal to learn to teach math theory to college students? Whatever your aims, start your search for a graduate degree in mathematics and statistics right here. Refine your search for Mathematics and Statistics Graduate Programs by degree level (masters, doctorate, certificate), subject and program format. Easily compare the paid programs that are generated, then contact schools directly!
[i] onetonline.org/link/summary/15-2021.00 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematicians.htm | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/math/statisticians.htm | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/math/actuaries.htm | [v] bls.gov/ooh/math/home.htm
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