Applying for admission to
a graduate program is not a routine or simple activity and matching the best
graduate school with your abilities and aspirations is an important step in
your career. These guidelines are intended to aid you in preparing an
application so you will know what our admissions committee looks for in an
application, which items are of importance, when to start, when to expect
replies, and the like. Whether or not you decide to apply to the University
we hope these notes will assist you in this mostly once-in-a-lifetime process.
Not every graduate
program in statistics will be well suited to you, nor will you be well suited
to every graduate program. Before you apply, learn as much as you can about the
programs you are considering: browse their web pages, examine their course
catalogs, read the fine print about their degree requirements, and talk to your
undergraduate instructors and advisors about relative strengths and weaknesses
of programs. Make sure your background in mathematics and statistics is
appropriate for the programs you are considering. Some departments expect
strong preparation in mathematics, while others prefer candidates with
experience in statistical data analysis and computing, and others, such as
ours, expect both.
Just as you attempt to
find departments suited to your background and interests, our department tries
to find students whose preparation and interests match the requirements and
strengths of our own program. Our admissions committee bases its judgment on
information about you supplied in your application and supporting documents.
Which Degree: M.S. or Ph.D.?
Which degree should you
pursue—the master's degree or the doctorate? Here are some guidelines.
If your career goal is to
conduct independent statistical research in an academic, government, or
industrial setting, you should probably pursue a Ph.D. degree. For many jobs
not involving independent research, a master’s degree suffices.
It is not necessary to
have an M.S. degree before entering our Ph.D. program; most of our Ph.D.
students join us directly from college. On the other hand, after earning their
M.S. degrees here, approximately one-third to one-half of our graduates go on
to other doctoral programs, typically in applied or quantitative disciplines in
statistics, economics, finance, business, and other fields.
If you are fairly certain,
but not positive, you want to obtain a Ph.D., you probably should still apply
to the Ph.D. program. Entering a Ph.D. program is not a prison sentence. If you
enroll in our doctoral program and then later decide that independent research
is not for you, you may leave the program and receive the M.S. degree if you
have fulfilled all of the requirements for that degree.
Our Ph.D. program is much
more selective than our M.S. program. Applicants to the Ph.D. program are
expected to have strong undergraduate records and high scores on the Graduate
Record Examinations (GRE), both the General Test and the Mathematics Subject
Applicants to the M.S.
program are also expected to have strong undergraduate records; they should
have good scores on the GRE General Test but are not required to take the
Mathematics Subject Test.
If you are not sure which
program you are best qualified for, you may apply to the Ph.D. program and ask to be considered for the M.S. program if you are not admitted. Once you have created a Ph.D. application, go to the Statistics supplement page. Select "Yes" to the question in the third section. Please note that there are steps required to finalize consideration for the M.S. program, including paying an extra application fee, completing a form, and submitting the additional M.S. application. If you complete all the steps, we will then consider you for the Ph.D. program, and if
we do not deem you to be ready for the Ph.D. program, we will consider you for
the M.S. program.
The prerequisites for the
master’s program are calculus through Jacobians and multivariate integrals,
linear/matrix algebra, and a year of elementary probability and statistics.
Applicants to the doctoral program should have that background solidly, plus
additional courses in advanced mathematics, such as real or complex analysis,
and/or in other disciplines such as computer science, economics, and the
Most students admitted to
the Ph.D. program are awarded an assistantship. The Department pays tuition, most
fees, student health insurance through the University, and a stipend to cover
living expenses. Most Ph.D. students are
responsible only for a small activity fee, currently $81 per quarter. An assistantship involves working as a
teaching or research assistant. These
training experiences are part of the program; students do not compete for
assistantships in order to receive funding.
Fully funded students are expected to not need external employment.
Master’s students do not
receive departmental assistantships or fellowships but generally receive a partial
tuition scholarship. See “Financial Considerations for M.S. Students” below for more
Our admissions target for
the Ph.D. program is eight to ten students per year. Our small class sizes mean
that our Ph.D. students may establish a close working relationship with
professors easily and that no particular faculty member is likely to be
overloaded with advisees.
Our admissions target for
the master’s program is approximately 30-40 new students per year. Typical
students in the master’s program include a mix of (1) people who come to the
University just for an M.S. in statistics, (2) doctoral students from other
departments within the University who are augmenting their education with an
M.S. degree in statistics, and (3) undergraduates at the University who are
earning a bachelor’s and an M.S. degree simultaneously.
The admissions committee
reads your application and, based on the information provided there, assesses
your preparation in mathematics, statistics, and computing, your interests
within statistics, and your potential for original research. The committee
tries to answer questions such as
1. Is the Department
suited to the applicant's interests?
2. Is the applicant
sufficiently well prepared mathematically?
3. How likely is it that
the applicant will complete the degree?
The various parts of your application shed light on these questions.
How to Apply
Our application site is
open annually from early September through December 31. During that time, you may access the
application online. If you have
any questions about the online application, please see the application section of our FAQs page.
The Specifications of the M.S. Program
Students in the Master's program may choose an area of specialization (used to be referred to as special track), such as biostatistics, statistical genetics, statistical finance, environmental statistics, computational neuroscience, machine learning, pattern recognition, scientific computation, survey methodology, etc. In your Candidate Statement you may
indicate what areas of specification you are interested in (we encourage you to do so).
Nonetheless, one applies to the M.S. program as a whole, not to any particular
area of specification. The areas of specification largely influence what electives you take and what topic you write your Master’s paper on.
Students Currently at the University of Chicago
If you are a doctoral
student in another department within the University who wants to augment your
education with a M.S. degree in statistics or an undergraduate at the
University who wants to join our B.A./M.S. program, then you must apply to our
M.S. program. Your application will be reviewed according to the same criteria
as all other applications. Doctoral students should read and consider the regulations
in the University’s “Student Manual” which apply to them prior to applying.
Undergraduates who are interested in the B.A./M.S. program should discuss their
plans with the Department's undergraduate advisor, Professor Mary Sara McPeek,
no later than the Autumn Quarter of their third year.
Of course, any student at
the University of Chicago is welcome to apply to our M.S. or Ph.D. program at
the conclusion of their studies.
A copy of your transcript
from each undergraduate or graduate institution you have attended is required. Scanned
or unofficial copies are sufficient for the admissions process. We only require official transcripts from
students who ultimately join our program.
Your transcript and grades indicate the depth and
breadth of your interests, as well as your performance in each of your courses.
We have no minimum grade point average (GPA) for admission to our programs, but
we do not view poor grades favorably, especially those obtained in statistics
and mathematics courses.
It may be unclear from
your transcript whether you have met the prerequisites for our program. For
example, your transcript might show that your math courses were
"Mathematics I" and "Mathematics II"; such uninformative
course titles leave us in the dark about your math background. In these cases,
we recommend that you include, in addition to your transcript, a list of the
topics covered in each course that would be relevant to our program. You may
upload your list on the "Statistics Supplement" tab in the online application.
You may also use this supplement to explain your school’s grading system,
address any unusual or low grades you received, or comment on other aspects of
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation
provide insight into abilities, strengths, and weaknesses that cannot be
reflected in grades and test scores alone. You should select referees who know
your work well and will write a frank and detailed letter of appraisal of you
and of your likely success in our graduate statistics program. Letters that
speak to your mathematical or statistical abilities, any special experience
that you might have (in statistical applications, for example), or your
potential for research are particularly welcome.
Choose the people who
will write letters of recommendation for you with care and observe the protocols
of courtesy by letting them know that you will submit their contact information
with their permission. After you submit
their contact information, your referees will receive an email including the
recommendation deadline, information pertaining to your right of access to view
recommendations, and a link for submitting a recommendation. By following this link, referees can type a
recommendation directly on our application website or upload a PDF file. If your
referees have any difficulties submitting letters, please instruct them to
Three letters of
recommendation are required. Two additional letters may be included if you
think the circumstances warrant it.
Graduate Record Examinations
We require the Graduate
Record Examinations (GRE) General Test of all applicants; in addition, it is strongly
encouraged that applicants to the doctoral program take the GRE Mathematics Subject Test. If you have not already done
so, you should make arrangements to take these exams as soon as possible. We
occasionally admit students with otherwise exceptional records who have not
taken these exams, but this is unusual.
The GRE is offered several times a year by the
Educational Testing Service (ETS). Arrangements with ETS must be made several weeks in
advance of the date of the examination, and it takes another six to eight weeks
after the exam for the scores to reach us. Consequently, we encourage
applicants to take the GRE no later than August and to take it earlier if
possible. When a choice is offered, take the computerized version of the GRE
for faster scoring and score delivery.
The ETS code for the University of Chicago
is 1832. The code for the Department of Statistics is 0705.
While we do not require a
minimum score on the GRE for admission to our programs, GRE scores are the only
measure common to all of our candidates; thus, low GRE scores not offset by
evidence of strength in other areas would make admission unlikely, especially
for the Ph.D. program. Most successful
applicants score above the 90th percentile on the quantitative
section of the GRE General Test.
We must receive your
scores directly from ETS; scanned or unofficial copies are not accepted. You are, however, encouraged to self-report
scores in your online application while you are waiting for an official score
Official GRE scores are
valid for up to five years past the test date. As a practical matter, if your
scores are more than three years old, we encourage you to retake the exam(s) to
provide a more up-to-date assessment of your abilities.
Test of English as a Foreign Language and the
International English Language Testing System
to the Statistics Department must demonstrate an adequate command of both
spoken and written English.
We will assume you have
an adequate command of English if you grew up in the United Kingdom, Canada,
Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or the United States, OR if, in
the last five years, you completed one academic year of full-time study at an English-language
institution in one of these seven countries.
Otherwise, you are
required to take the internet-based test (iBT) version of the Test of English
as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing
System (IELTS). It is necessary to take all parts of the TOEFL or IELTS. Poor
TOEFL/IELTS scores are grounds for denial of admission, regardless of the
strength of other parts of your application.
Applicants whose total
score on the four-part iBT TOEFL falls below 90, or below 7 on the IELTS,
normally are not admitted unless other demonstrable evidence of proficiency in
English is available.
Even if the minimum
totals above are met, we may require you to provide additional evidence of your
English proficiency at some later stage in the admission process.
If you are a foreign
student who is excused from the TOEFL by virtue of the "full-time academic
study" clause in the first paragraph, you may still wish to strengthen
your application by providing further evidence of your English abilities. You are welcome to submit TOEFL or IELTS
scores even if not required. You may
also want to ask your referees to mention your English abilities in their
letters of recommendation. For example,
a professor who has seen you give presentations or teach in English could
comment on your speaking ability.
The TOEFL code for the
University of Chicago is 1832. The code for the Department of Statistics is 59.
If you are taking the IELTS, request that the scores be sent to the University
of Chicago, Department of Statistics Admissions, 5747 S. Ellis Avenue,
Room 222A, Chicago, IL 60637. We must
receive your scores directly from the testing agency; scanned or unofficial
copies are not accepted. You are,
however, encouraged to self-report scores in your online application while you
are waiting for an official score report.
TOEFL/IELTS results from
tests taken more than two years prior to our application deadline of December
31 are considered expired.
For more information
about the University's English language requirements, please visit the website of
University’s Office of International Affairs at http://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu.
The short essay provides
you with an opportunity to tell us what interests you about Statistics, what
your goals are, and what you hope to accomplish in your graduate studies. There
is no need to tell us more about your grades, test scores, and course work in
your essay—your transcript and other supporting material will provide this
information. Instead, you should use the Candidate Statement as an opportunity
to tell us about aspects of yourself that are not apparent from your
transcript, such as extracurricular projects you have completed, work
experience you have had, and so on. If you have completed graduate work
elsewhere, your statement should include your reasons for wanting to change
institutions or degree programs. This part of your statement is essential if
you have completed more than two years of graduate study at other institutions.
The application fee is $90. The fee is nonrefundable. A waiver of the fee can be considered; see the fee waiver
within the online application for further information. University regulations
forbid us from admitting students who have not paid the fee or obtained a
waiver; no exceptions are permitted.
If you are applying to
our Ph.D. program and would like to be considered for our M.S. program if not admitted, you will need to
pay both the application fees for the programs. If you are applying both to Statistics
and to another University of Chicago program, you will submit separate
applications and supporting materials to each program. The only exception is standardized test
scores: all departments are able to access each other’s GRE and TOEFL records.
Financial Considerations and Length of Study
Financial Aid for Ph.D. Students
In recent years our
department has been able to provide full support (tuition, most fees, health
insurance, and a stipend) for most of its Ph.D. students, and we expect to do
so for the foreseeable future. Ordinarily, students are supported for at least
four years. Support is not tied to working with a particular faculty member. At
present, most fifth-year students receive full support, and most Ph.D. students
receive summer support.
Decisions on departmental financial aid are made by the Statistics
Department, not by the University. Assistantships are awarded on the basis of
our assessment of your scholarly promise and are subject to the availability of
We adhere to the policy
of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) concerning offers of financial support in the form of
a scholarship, assistantship, fellowship, or traineeship. Under that policy,
acceptance of such an offer from any institution does not become binding until
April 15. Complete details are given in the CGS resolution, a copy of which accompanies any offer of a
scholarship, assistantship, fellowship, or traineeship.
You should also
investigate other possibilities for financial support for graduate study. In
particular, the National Science Foundation (NSF) offers several fellowship programs for graduate study.
Other opportunities are listed on the University’s Fellowships
and Funding site. We strongly encourage all eligible applicants to
apply to these programs. Since the application deadlines are quite early in the
fall, we suggest that you investigate your options early in the process.
If you might receive a
fellowship or grant that would allow you to attend our Ph.D. program without
full support from us, please bring that to our attention in the Financial Data
section of the application.
Financial Considerations for M.S. Students
This section discusses
how long it takes to complete the M.S. program, what it costs, and job
opportunities for M.S. students on campus.
Our Ph.D. students
perform almost all teaching and research assistant work in our small
department; thus, assistantships or fellowships are not available for M.S.
students. We do not offer assistantships to incoming master’s students,
although they are typically eligible for a merit-based partial tuition scholarship of 25%
during their first year of study. Subject to satisfactory performance, they may
receive an increased scholarship during their second year.
Our master’s program requires
a minimum of nine courses, plus an M.S. paper and presentation. Full-time students
take three classes each Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarter. (We do not offer classes during Summer Quarter.) Thus, the M.S. program can be completed in one
year. Many students decide to stay for
at least part of a second year in order to take more electives or to have more
time to complete the M.S. paper. Many
students also find that they would benefit from a full year in the program
before taking the required three-course sequence in data analysis (STAT
The vast majority of our students are
full-time. Part-time study is a select
option by permission only; it requires careful planning, as each course is
offered only once or twice per year. We
do not offer evening or weekend classes.
We do not offer online classes.
We are only able to sponsor visas for full-time students.
For the 2016-2017
academic year, full-time tuition is $51,192.
With a 25% partial tuition scholarship, each student is responsible for
the remaining $38,394 as well as the $1128 Student Life Fee. All students are required to have health
insurance. Most students enroll in the
University’s plan at an annual cost of $3,615.
Students with outside insurance coverage may opt out of the University’s
plan, provided they can prove their coverage is comparable. All amounts listed are likely to increase
slightly each year.
The Department occasionally hires advanced M.S.
students as graders. Pay varies depending
on the level of the course. Graders are
hired based on departmental needs each quarter.
Many M.S. students also find student jobs elsewhere on campus, such as
at the Booth School of Business or in the Department of Economics, as research
assistants, data analysts, office assistants, student technicians, and the
When budgeting your
education, keep in mind that most M.S. students find that they do not have time
available for a job, especially early in the program. International students should also note that
most student visas have specific and strict rules limiting employment
For more information
about finances, please visit the University's Fellowships and Funding site at http://grad.uchicago.edu/grad_fellowships_funding/.
You may also want to consider opportunities for loans and other forms of funding.
Consider You for Financial Aid?
automatically consider each Ph.D. applicant for financial aid but take into
account any outside grants or other funding the student may have. The Department
does not offer financial aid to M.S. applicants other than the 25% partial tuition scholarship
described above. All students are
encouraged to visit the links listed in the “Resources” section of our
“Admissions” site early on to determine what sources of external financial aid may
be available to them.
All admitted students begin the program in Autumn
Quarter. We do not allow admits during the rest of the academic year because of
the structure of our course sequences. The application deadline is December 31,
The admissions committee
begins reviewing applications to the Ph.D. program around the beginning of
January, and applications to the M.S. program are reviewed toward the end of
January. Because we get hundreds of applications, both review processes can go
on for many weeks. You will receive an email when your decision is
available. To view your decision, log in
to your online application.
If you are a current student, we encourage you to
provide an updated transcript whenever your autumn grades are available. You may upload updated transcripts through
your “Application Status” page, even after the application deadline. When in doubt, use the “Miscellaneous” label
when uploading new materials.
The Council of Graduate Schools Agreement
concerning April 15th
Applicants to the
doctoral program should please note that by the terms of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) resolution, to which the
University of Chicago and many other universities in the United States are signatories,
Ph.D. applicants are not required to make a final decision about acceptance of
financial aid (e.g., assistantships) until April 15th, nor is any commitment on
their part binding until then. The resolution does not apply to M.S.
For More Information
If you have any questions
about our application process or programs, please see our FAQs page. Please do not contact individual faculty or staff with
admissions inquiries. Please do not send the same inquiry to multiple people.