Graduate Programs in Mathematics and Statistics

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.

Statistics Graduate Degrees  in  South Dakotawritten by Rana Waxman

Mathematics and Statistics Graduate Programs: Overview

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

Admission Requirements

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.

Types of Mathematics and Statistics Graduate Programs

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.

  • Mathematics Graduate Programs
  • Statistics Graduate Programs
  • Actuarial Science Graduate Programs

What is Math Statistics?

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.

  1. Probability
  2. Applied mathematics
  3. Mathematical statistics
  4. Numerical mathematics

Mathematics Graduate Programs

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.

Masters in Mathematics: MA & MS Programs

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.

  • Master of Arts in Mathematics: In some grad schools, the MA in Mathematics is mostly designed for students who wish to enter a PhD program in Mathematics. A student’s program of study for this degree could be narrower than the MS in scope but more intense in content to prepare for a doctorate. Students could take courses in real and complex analysis, and computational mathematics. At the end of their program, students may have a final thesis which might be a precursor to a PhD dissertation.
  • Master of Science in Mathematics: The MS in Mathematics program is often more broad in scope and could include courses of both a pure and applied nature. For instance, students might take courses in analysis, algebra, statistics and applied mathematics, along with a series of electives. Because of the number of topics covered, it might be the track of choice for math educators. At the end of their program, students may have to write a thesis, as well as undergo an oral examination.

Graduate Certificates in Mathematics

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.

PhD in Mathematics Programs

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.


In private industry, mathematicians typically need an advanced degree, either a master’s degree or a doctorate.ii

Statistics Graduate Programs

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

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.

  • Master of Arts in Statistics: The MA in Statistics program could help students build practical knowledge in applied statistics and data analysis. Core courses could cover probability, statistical inference, linear algebra and regression. The MA track may serve as a platform to a PhD in Statistics in some schools. Students might be able to take some doctoral courses as electives, and may be required to complete a capstone project.
  • Master of Science in Statistics: In some universities, a MS degree in Statistics is intended as a terminal professional degree and does not lead to the PhD degree. Students may take a series of core courses that could span probability, applied statistics, theoretical statistics and stochastic processes. Other statistics courses might include workshops in biostatistics or industrial research, linear algebra mathematics and computer programming.

Masters in Data Analytics

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

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

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.

Doctor of Computer Science

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

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

Master of Science in Actuarial Science

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.

PhD in Actuarial Science

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.

Career Outlook

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

A Mathematics and Statistics Graduate Program for You

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.

Take the Next Step

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!

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