Mathematics and Statistics

About the Statistics Major

The statistics major can lead to many stimulating and interesting careers. For some examples, check out

If you are thinking about majoring in statistics, you should go to Seeley Mudd and talk to a statistics professor (Profs. Horton, Liao, Wagaman, and Wang). In the meantime, this page provides an outline of the requirements for a major. (The catalog is the official word on these matters, so read it, too.) If you are trying to pick a statistics course in order to explore the topic, please see our suggestions for choosing a statistics course.

Once you have decided to declare the major, you will need to obtain the appropriate form from the Registrar's page, complete it, and have the current Mathematics and Statistics Department chair, as well as your current advisor, sign it, before returning it to the Registrar.

As you proceed through the major, or are trying to decide if you can complete it, check out our Statistics Major checklist:

. You might also want to check out our example pathways through the statistics major.

Course Renumberings and Pre-requisite Changes

Several statistics courses were renumbered in the Fall of 2015. 

The senior capstone in Statistics (Stat 495) beginning in Fall 2015 has pre-requisites of Stat 230 and Stat 370 (formerly Stat 430), and the computing requirement for the major will need to have been satisfied. Students interested in a statistics major are encouraged to consider this during course selection. We recommend interested students take the Probability/Theoretical Statistics sequence during their junior years (or during the sophomore year for those planning to study abroad at an institution which does not offer these courses). For more information, please contact a statistics professor.

Clarification on Intro Stats for Math Majors

Stat 111 does NOT count towards the mathematics major. However, students that took the course while it was still Math 130 may count it towards the mathematics major as a mathematics elective.  Either introductory course (Stat 111 or Stat 135) counts towards the statistics major, though Stat 135 is recommended. We strongly encourage students with questions about the mathematics and statistics majors to talk to a faculty member in the Department.

Courses for the Major in Statistics

The statistics major requires 11 total courses, in several areas, as follows:

Required Math Background Courses

  • Introduction to the Calculus (Mathematics 111) 
  • Intermediate Calculus (Mathematics 121) 
  • Multivariable Calculus (Mathematics 211) 
  • Linear Algebra (Mathematics 271 or 272) 

Required Statistics Courses

  • Introduction to Statistics (Statistics 111 or 135) 
  • Intermediate Statistics (Statistics 230) 
  • Probability (Statistics 360) 
  • Theoretical Statistics (Statistics 370) (formerly Stat/Math 430)
  • Advanced Data Analysis (Statistics 495) - capstone course

Elective Courses

Along with the required courses, a major must complete two elective courses as follows:

A. (Depth Requirement) One elective course in statistics - Stat 235 (formerly 335), 240 (formerly 330), or another approved elective to satisfy a depth requirement in statistics.

B. (Computing Requirement) Math 140 or Cosc 111 or another approved elective to satisfy a computing requirement.  All students are encouraged to complete a second course in computer science.

Depending on background, statistics majors may place out of several of these courses. Students who have placed out of calculus, introductory statistics, or introductory computer science are excused from taking those courses. Statistics majors may place out of up to three courses without having to replace those courses. Students placing out of more than three courses must replace all but three of those courses with additional Statistics courses numbered 200 or higher, approved Mathematics courses numbered 200 or higher, Computer Science courses numbered 112 or higher, or other courses approved by the Department to complete the major.

To gain approval for an alternate elective, students must file a petition for the Department to consider. To submit a petition, email the chair of the Department with relevant information about the course to be considered, for example, a syllabus from a recent semester of the course or a link to the course description.

Graduate School

Students planning to attend graduate school in statistics are strongly advised to take MATH 355 (Introduction to Analysis) as well as its continuation course, MATH 450 (Functions of a Real Variable). Please see the pathway through the major for graduate school for additional suggestions on courses of study to prepare for graduate school in statistics.

Double Majoring in Mathematics and Statistics

Students electing a double major in Mathematics and Statistics may count MATH 111, MATH 121, MATH 211, and MATH 271 or 272 towards both majors. A maximum of one additional course taken to complete the Mathematics major may be counted towards the Statistics major. Ask a statistics or mathematics faculty for assistance if you are trying to figure this out! In short, a minimum of 17 courses would be needed to complete both majors with this overlap. A checklist for double majors in mathematics and statistics can be found here: 

Comprehensive Evaluation

In the fall of their senior year, all Statistics majors will enroll in the capstone course STAT 495, and complete a capstone project under faculty supervision. An extension of the capstone project completed individually by the student (in the spring semester of senior year) or a preliminary version of the thesis (for thesis students) will serve as the basis for a comprehensive evaluation of each student's achievement in the major. Each student's project will be assessed by the Statistics faculty in the Department to determine if the student has successfully completed the comprehensive evaluation. (Those for whom the second semester of the junior year occurs in the fall should enroll in STAT 495 in that semester in order to complete the extension of the capstone project and satisfy the comprehensive evaluation). More information about the comprehensive evaluation may be found here.

Honors Program

Students are admitted to the Honors Program on the basis of a qualifying examination given at the beginning of the spring semester of their junior year. (Those for whom the second semester of the junior year occurs in the fall may elect instead to take the qualifying examination at the beginning of that semester.) The core part of the examination is identical to the core portion of the honors qualifying exam/comprehensive examination for Mathematics and is described here. For statistics, the subject exam taken is in Probability.

Before the end of the junior year, an individual thesis topic will be selected by the Honors candidate in conference with a member of the Department. After intensive study of this topic, the candidate will write a report in the form of a thesis which should be original in its presentation of material, if not in content. In addition, the candidate will report to the departmental colloquium on her or his thesis work during the senior year. Honors candidates are not required to complete additional coursework in statistics apart from thesis courses.

Other Aspects of the Statistics Major

  • Departmental Colloquium:  All students majoring in Statistics are expected to attend the departmental colloquium during their junior and senior years.
  • Honors Student Office:  All students in the Honors Program in Statistics can use the Honors Student Office (013 Seeley Mudd).  Depending on the space available, other senior Statistics majors may petition the Chair to use the Honor Student Office.
  • Study Abroad:  It is easy to combine the statistics major with a semester or year spent abroad, but planning is needed to satisfy the requirements for the senior seminar in Statistics.  See Study Abroad.