Why Study Statistics

WHAT IS STATISTICS ?

Statistics is the science (and, arguably, also the art!) of learning from data. As a discipline it is concerned with the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, as well as the effective communication and presentation of results relying on data. Statistics lies at the heart of the type of quantitative reasoning necessary for making important advances in the sciences, such as medicine and genetics, and for making important decisions in business and public policy.

WHY STUDY STATISTICS ?

From medical studies to research experiments, from satellites continuously orbiting the globe to ubiquitous social network sites like Facebook or MySpace, from polling organizations to United Nations observers, data are being collected everywhere and all the time. Knowledge in statistics provides you with the necessary tools and conceptual foundations in quantitative reasoning to extract information intelligently from this sea of data.

“The sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it.”
Hal Varian
Chief Economist, Google
January, 2009

At Boston University undergraduates can pursue studies in statistics, through degree programs in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, in a number of ways.

  • If your main interest is in another field, but you know that statistical skills¬† will be key to making a real impact in that field, then a minor in mathematics, with specialization in statistics, may make most sense. This are particularly popular with students in psychology, sociology, business, and related social sciences, as well as increasingly so with students in biology.
  • If it’s statistics itself that attracts you, then a major in mathematics, with specialization in statistics, is what you want.
  • Finally, for those that get an early start and do well in their courses, the Department’s joint BA/MA degree deserves serious consideration, allowing students to graduate in as little as four years with both bachelors and masters degrees in mathematics, with specialization in statistics.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR STATISTICIANS

“The demand for statisticians is currently high and growing. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of nonacademic jobs for statisticians is expected to increase through 2016. ”

– American Statistical Association

Statisticians are in demand in all sectors of society, ranging from government, to business and industry, to universities and research labs. As a statistician you can be involved with the development of new lifesaving drugs in a pharmaceutical, the shaping of public policy in government, the planning of market strategy in business, or the management of investment portfolios in finance. Not only are there a wide variety of exciting opportunities for statisticians, but careers in statistics generally can be quite lucrative, with statisticians of sufficient experience often able to earn six-figure salaries.

For more information on career opportunities, including several opportunities in the US Federal Agencies,  see the website of the American Statistical Association, at www.amstat.org/careers. Of particular interest to undergraduates is the new STATTRAK website

TESTIMONIALS FROM RECENT STUDENTS

The skills I acquired through my coursework and class projects made me an attractive job candidate to a variety of organizations and helped me secure a great position at a local biotech company weeks after graduation.
Hoxie Ackerman
BA-MA Statistics, 2009

Hoxie Ackerman “Looking back on my time in the Boston University Mathematics & Statistics department, I was constantly impressed by the high caliber of professors and the breadth of courses offered. The skills I acquired through my coursework and class projects made me an attractive job candidate to a variety of organizations and helped me secure a great position at a local biotech company weeks after graduation. Furthermore, the BA/MA program is an incredible opportunity; the additional coursework and degree have both enhanced my ability to succeed at my job and prepared me for top PhD programs. Strong mathematicians and statisticians will play a prominent role in almost every field in the twenty-first century, and a degree from the Boston University Mathematics & Statistics department will serve you well for many years to come.”

There are so many companies out there that need Statisticians. Because of my BA/MA in math/stats, I have found a job which I really love. Thank you BU Math/Stats department!
Mathilde Kaper
BA-MA Statistics, 2003

Mathilde Kaper : “I was unsure of what I wanted to major in, but this quickly changed once I started taking more math and stat classes at BU. Couldn’t have asked for a better group of professors who clearly are there due to their love of their subjects and desire to inspire others. They made time to make sure that you understood the material and they were there to see to it that you succeeded. One word of advice: make sure to ask lots of questions! And remember that there are so many companies out there that need Statisticians. Because of my BA/MA in math/stats, I have found a job which I really love.”