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Statistics


O-Week FAQs

Why should I study STAT?

Statistics is the science of learning from data, and of measuring, controlling, and communicating uncertainty. It provides the essential framework for enabling practitioners to make informed decisions about data. The exponential growth of data science has led to dramatic increases in employment prospects and in compensation for statisticians. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study in 2015, the mean annual salary for statisticians (in most American cities) was well over $100,000. Please see the following two links for more useful information about our profession:
https://thisisstatistics.org/latest-news/
https://thisisstatistics.org/statistics-careers-reddit-ama/

What do students do when they graduate with a STAT degree? (BA and BS)

BA and BS students often pursue statistics and data science positions in industry, like finance and banking, pharmaceuticals, biomedicine, and consulting. They work at places like Google, WHO, IBM, Capitol One, Exxon, and the United States Navy. BS students often attend graduate school (Masters/Ph.D.) in statistics and in other related fields like economics, finance, sociology, and political science.

If I am considering this major, what classes should I take this year

If you do not have credit for MATH 102 and do not have any statistical background, then consider taking STAT 280 or 305 and MATH 102 in the fall and 310 or 315 and MATH 212 in the spring. If you have MATH 102 credit, consider STAT 310 or 315 and MATH 212 in the fall and STAT 405 and 410 in the spring.

If I have AP credit, should I use it or are there classes I should consider retaking anyway?

Yes, you may use AP credit for STAT 280 credit.

How should I decide whether or not to use my AP credit?

If you have done well in AP Statistics, you are advised to use the AP credit for STAT 280.

Can I study abroad? If so, when is the best time?

You can definitely study abroad! However, all classes for which you desire credit from study abroad must be approved in advance by a STAT undergraduate advisor. This cannot be overstressed. Usually, students who choose to study abroad do so in the fall or spring of their junior year.

What kind of research opportunities are available to your students?

Programming projects based on the languages R and Python are often available. This is one reason you are encouraged to take STAT 405 and COMP 140 as soon as you can in your freshman or sophomore years. Research projects where you will be asked to perform more sophisticated statistical analyses, however, will likely be found after you have a handful of advanced statistics courses, perhaps starting in your junior year. Students are encouraged to directly contact individual statistics faculty members whose research most interests them to inquire about opportunities. One piece of advice if you are interested in pursuing graduate school in statistics: definitely do get involved in research and get your name on some published papers! It may sound hard to do, but Rice students do it all the time! You should also know that the best graduate programs now look for a strong research experience in students.

What extracurricular activities or projects do students in your program normally participate in?

Many of our majors do research, often related to other departments; for example, public health, sports analytics, sociology, economics, or programs, such as HART (Houston Action Research Team, ccl.rice.edu), the Kinder Institute for Urban Research (kinder.rice.edu), among others. The Data Science Club (data.sci.rice) is also quite popular. Students also find real projects with places like M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the Texas Policy Lab, the City of Houston, the Houston Fire Department, the Houston Astros, Houston Texans and many more through a Data Science course, such as DSCI 435 – Data Science Projects. Oftentimes, students publicly present their work (and sometimes win monetary prizes!) by giving poster or oral presentations at events like the Engineering Showcase each spring, the Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium (RURS), or various datathons. There is so much you can do!

What do classes in STAT normally look like?

Class sizes are largest for STAT 310 and STAT 315. Enrollments are smaller for higher level courses, but have continued to grow over time. Some classes are theoretical (e.g. STAT 418 and 419), some are concerned with methodology (e.g., regression, Bayesian modelling, and machine learning), some are applied (e.g., finance, bioinformatics), and some are computational. Intro courses tend to have 50-120 students and many advanced courses have less than 40 students.

Is the curriculum flexible enough for students to pursue other interests? i.e. Can I complete a minor, take classes outside the major or specialize further within the major?

Yes. STAT BA and BS students can complete a minor in another discipline, such as data science, financial computation and modeling, and many others. Within STAT we have undergraduate concentrations in finance, environmental science and bioinformatics. In addition, some students choose to double major (for example, with mathematical economic analysis or computer science).

Are there any other things I should know about STAT?

Our majors go to the most competitive positions in industry as well as to the top graduate school problems in Statistics and other closely related fields. The number of majors has grown exponentially over the years, reaching 120 in 2016! Many students double-major, and majors can work as graders and lobbies. Students interested in graduate school in Statistics often take 400/500 level classes with graduate students. The STAT department’s monthly lunches are open to all undergraduate majors, and they serve as a great way to interact with Rice’s statistics community. Please look at Rice’s General Announcements (2020-2021) for the requirements of our BA and BS.