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MSc Program Details

At the MSc level, the Department offers a degree in Statistics and, in collaboration with the School of Population and Public Health, a degree in Statistics with a Biostatistics option.   With either 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 MSc typically takes 20-24 months to complete. 

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.

General MSc Requirements

The total number of required credits is 30, of which 3 credits could be for a project, or 6 credits for a thesis. At least 24 credits must be in courses numbered 500 and above. Students are expected to register for a minimum of 18 credits in their first year, and a minimum of 12 credits in their second year. The Department requires that students maintain an average of at least 75% in order to stay in the program.

In addition to these formal requirements, students are expected to develop proficiency in the use of statistical computing software, with R being particularly important. 

To broaden their knowledge and experience in the discipline, students are expected to take advantage of other opportunities provided by departmental activities, such as the weekly seminars and other presentations.

Requirements for the MSc in Statistics

There are 4 key mandatory sequences of courses; most students would have some of these in their undergraduate program and thus need not re-take them. Other courses are taken for breadth.

  • STAT 404: design of experiments/ analysis of variance, not listed explicitly as a program requirement, but it is corequisite for STAT 550
  • at least 3 credits from the following applied statistics courses: STAT 527 Analysis of Longitudinal Data, STAT 538 Generalized Linear Models, STAT 541 Multivariate Analysis, STAT 543 Time Series, STAT 545 Data Analysis (not all courses are offered each year)
  • STAT 550 Statistical Consulting I (3 credits)
  • STAT 551 Statistical Consulting II (3 credits)  Co-op students are not required to take STAT 551.
  • STAT 560 Mathematical Statistics I (3 credits)
  • STAT 561 Mathematical Statistics II (3 credits)
  • advanced probability and stochastic processes: an advanced probability course recommended by the Graduate Program Advisor

Requirements for the MSc in Statistics (Biostatistics concentration)

  • STAT 404: design of experiments/ analysis of variance, not listed explicitly as a program requirement, but it is corequisite for STAT 550
  • STAT 536 Design and Analysis of Clinical Studies (1-3 credits)
  • STAT 538 Generalized Linear Models (1-3 credits)
  • STAT 545 Data Analysis (1-3 credits)
  • STAT 550 Statistical Consulting I (3 credits)
  • STAT 560 Statistical Theory I (3 credits)
  • SPPH 502 Epidemiology I (3 credits)
  • SPPH 501 Analysis of Longitudinal Data from Epidemiological Studies (3 credits) or STAT 527 Topics in Biostatistics (1-6 credits)
  • Experience in collaborating with non-statisticians. The desired route is through sustained involvement with a health research team. The “fall-back” route is successful completion of the second course in statistical consulting, STAT 551, taken in the fall term of the second year of the MSc program.  Students seeking to satisfy this requirement through the desired route (and thus be exempt from STAT 551) must submit evidence of their sustained involvement with a health research team at least one month before the start of the fall term of the 2nd year of their MSc program. Their application would be reviewed by their research supervisor and one other faculty member involved with the Biostatistics Program, who would submit a recommendation to the Graduate Program Director for a final decision.


Students in the MSc program who are not in the Co-op option are required to write either a project report (3 credits) or a thesis (6 credits). Most students will write a project report, and only students who are able to demonstrate exceptionally strong research skills will be permitted to register in the thesis option. At the end of the first summer, students will meet with their research supervisor to decide if a project report or a thesis will be completed. The project/thesis is assigned a grade out of 100 by the supervisor, and students are required to make a presentation based on their completed work in a department seminar.

Students choose their own project/thesis supervisors, but are not necessarily expected to find their own topics. However, students should have some thoughts on areas of interest.

The project/thesis is meant to provide experience in working independently and in completing a project from the initial stage of a set of questions to be considered through to the final report. The development of new statistical techniques is not required, but recent advances in statistical methodology should be incorporated in the project. The thesis should have some innovative aspect to it, such as applying a recently developed technique to a set of data or in a subject area where it has not been routinely used. A project on the other hand can be a survey of the literature in a particular area, or an application of widely available methodology to a data set.

Most MSc projects and theses have an applied orientation and often consist of solving or at least investigating data analysis problems. A theoretical thesis would normally be most suitable for students planning to continue to a PhD program.

Students are advised to delay registration in the project or thesis stream until summer registration. At the end of Winter Term 2, students will meet with their research supervisor to decide if a project report or a thesis will be completed. If you have registered in one of these streams and then wish to transfer you will have to complete a 'change of registration' form. If you transfer past the add/drop deadline you will have a W for 'withdrawn' on your transcript. 

Co-op Option

In a Co-operative Education Program, academic study is integrated with related and supervised work experience in co-operating employer organizations. For the graduate level Co-operative Education Option, students work for one eight-month segment.  Read more about the Co-op Option.