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MS Requirements

The MS degree program in statistics is designed for students who wish to pursue a career as a practicing statistician in industry, government, or academia. The degree is also valuable for people working in other fields who need mastery of a broad range of statistical methods.

The MS program consists of courses in both theoretical and applied statistics. An incoming graduate student who has some background in mathematics and statistics can reasonably expect to complete an MS program in 4 semesters of study.

Some of our MS graduates opt to work toward their PhD degrees. Of those that do not, nearly all are working in statistics-related jobs.

Recommended pre-program course work

  • Familiarity with statistical concepts and methods up to and including applied linear regression, at the level of Stat 5302 at the University of Minnesota. For students otherwise admissible, Stat 5302 will be offered during summer session at the University of Minnesota.
  • Additional coursework in a quantitative area, such as mathematics (advanced calculus or real analysis, are highly desirable), statistics, computer science, quantitative psychology or other social science, or bioinformatics.
  • Familiarity with C, Java, Fortran, or some other higher-level computer programming language.


  • A minimum of 30 course credits, including at least 6 credits in a minor area or related field
  • a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in program courses, with no grade lower than a "C"
  • completion of a Plan B Project

No more than 40‰ of your U of M School of Statistics MS program credits may be transferred from another institution or earned at the University as a non-degree seeking student . Consult the University's current Graduate School Catalog for details of Graduate School requirements for the MS degree.

All degree programs are planned with an adviser and are subject to the approval of the adviser and the director of graduate studies. You must file an official "Degree Program" designating the courses that will be used to satisfy the requirements for the MS This is usually done in the fall of your second year.

Required Program Coursework

  • Statistical Theory Stat 8101-8102 (3+3 cr). With permission of the director of graduate studies and the advisor, Stat 5101-5102 may be substituted.
  • Statistical Methods Stat 8051-8052 (3 + 3 cr)
  • Stat 8801 Statistical Consulting (3 cr)
  • Stat 5701 Statistical Computing (3 cr)
  • An approved supporting field of at least six credits
  • At least six credits of approved electives

Most 5xxx– and 8xxx–level in Statistics and 7xxx- and 8xxx-level courses in Biostatistics in the School of Public Health that do not overlap with the core courses are eligible for use as electives.

Supporting Field Requirement

A coherent sequence of a minimum of two 5xxx or higher level courses totaling at least 6 credits is required in a quantitative field, such as computer science, ecology, economics, genetics, public policy, sociology, psychology or mathematics. Your program of study in a supporting field must be approved by your adviser and the director of graduate studies.

Students considering the PhD degree usually take mathematics courses (often Math 5615–5616 "Honors Introduction to Analysis") for their supporting field.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

You are expected to maintain a GPA of 3.00 or better in courses included in your degree program. You may take Stat 8801: Statistical Consulting and at most 4 non–core credits as S–N (pass-fail). S–N credits are not used in calculating your GPA.

Consulting Requirement

You must earn 3 credits in Stat 8801: Statistical Consulting, as shown in the coursework requirements.

Seminar Requirement

You must give one public seminar, usually on the topic of your Plan B project.

Language Requirement

There is no second language requirement. International students should consult the international students section for information on English language proficiency.

Plan B Project

The Plan B project is intended to supplement coursework and gives you a broader view of the theory and applications of statistics. You must demonstrate familiarity with the tools of research and scholarship in statistics and the ability to work independently and present results effectively.

  1. By an independent investigation of some subject related to your program:
    After two semesters of graduate study, you select a faculty member or other person approved by the director of graduate studies to advise on the Plan B project. Wide latitude is given in the selection of projects, for example:
    • A consulting project in conjunction with a client of the Statistical Consulting Service.
    • A data analysis project on a problem of interest.
    • A literature survey of an important area in applied or theoretical statistics.
    • The preparation of a coordinated set of statistical computer programs.
    • A report of work completed in an on-campus or off-campus internship.
    • An original research project.
  2. By taking at least 9 credits in 8xxx-level statistics courses not included in the required courses for the MS degree and passing the written PhD preliminary examination:
    The additional courses must be approved by your adviser and the director of graduate studies, and cannot be included in the minimum credit requirement for the MS degree.

Oral Examination

A final oral examination for the MS degree is administered by an examining committee that consists of 2 members of the statistics graduate faculty and 1 faculty member from the minor or related area. The oral examination often focuses on the Plan B project, but may be a comprehensive examination of the MS program course work.

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