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Graduate (MSc/PhD)

Graduate students are a vital part of our Department. They participate actively in our research, teaching and consulting activities. They enjoy a wide variety of opportunities for interaction with other researchers and students on- and off-campus through faculty members' collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects. During their program our students develop important professional skills, including effective communication skills for both technical and non-technical audiences, computational and data management skills. And, of course, students acquire knowledge of modern statistical methods. 

Our students can prepare themselves for a successful career in areas such as biostatistics, bioinformatics/genomics, data science, statistical computing and mathematical statistics, in academia or in the public or private sector. Check out our alumni, who can be found in a number of different professional roles.  See the Statistics Graduate Student Association's website if you would like to read more about life as a graduate student in the department.


At the MSc level, we offer a degree in Statistics and, in collaboration with the School of Population and Public Health, a degree in Statistics with a Biostatistics option. Students can choose to do a thesis, a final project or an 8-month full-time co-op placement (internship) outside the Department. The programs have an expected completion time of less than 2 years. Upon completion, students will be well-equipped to take on positions as statisticians in government or industry or to continue in a PhD program in statistics.

In collaboration with the Department of Computer Science, we also offer a professional MSc degree in Data Science, which is administered separately.  For more information, please see the Master of Data Science web page.

While one can certainly develop expertise in bioinformatics from within the Statistics MSc, one can also obtain a degree in Bioinformatics.


Students completing our PhD program will be well-prepared for a job in academia, industry, government and a variety of research-driven units. The program involves some course work, an innovate qualifying process based on reading of research papers with individual faculty members, a comprehensive exam on the proposed thesis research, and, of course, a PhD thesis. We expect students to complete the program in 4 years.

Goals of our MSc and PhD programs

Students in the MSc and PhD programs will develop the following skills:

  • communication skills: e.g., explaining or reporting statistical results to non-statisticians, such as managers;
  • a broad base of knowledge of modern statistical methods, including computing;
  • the ability to choose appropriate analyses when presented with a real problem and to understand the implications of these analyses (assumptions, shortcomings, interpretation of results);
  • the ability to learn after finishing the degree: i.e., to learn new statistical techniques from textbooks and journal articles, modifying the techniques, if necessary.

Students develop these skills through a variety of activities. Courses typically combine traditional lecture-based learning with some in-class active learning and independent learning. Students are expected to read relevant journal articles, download software from the web, analyze difficult data sets, and present and discuss their findings with their classmates. New statistical problems and approaches are discussed in the weekly department research-level seminar. Graduate students discuss their research and other topics of interest in a weekly student-run seminar series.  Many applied consulting problems are discussed in the Statistics 551 consulting practicum. Many students serve as research assistants, often working directly with researchers in other areas such as medicine. Students also develop the above skills while working on their MSc and PhD theses or MSc projects.

And, of course, teaching is a great way to improve communication skills. Serving as a teaching assistant not only supports the department's undergraduate education activities, but also develops important skills.

PhD students will develop these additional skills:

  • the ability to communicate to research statisticians both verbally and in writing, by giving papers/posters at conferences, for example;
  • statistical maturity;
  • creativity and originality: ability and potential to generate and solve "good" research problems;
  • a deep knowledge of a speciality;
  • library skills and grant writing skills;
  • the ability to teach an introductory statistics class.