Statistics Majors

Cary Quad Statistics is the mathematical and computational study of data and chance. It is a methodological discipline -- statisticians often work closely with people in other fields to design production of data, analyze data, and draw conclusions from data.

Statistics is one of the few major disciplines in which the expertise of a professional can have significant effect in fields as diverse as analytics, bioinformatics and medicine, finance and insurance, management and marketing, agriculture and forestry, economics and education, as well as communications and software design, to name a few. Statisticians design methods for collecting and interpreting data gathered by government, business and industry, and academia to aid in the planning, decision making and research crucial to modern society. Statisticians use computers as a tool for analyzing complex or massive data sets and solving mathematical problems. They use statistical techniques to discover relationships between disease and differences in the DNA sequences among individuals; predict election results, population growth, or the behavior of financial instruments; establish insurance or quality control standards; determine new drug effectiveness through clinical trials; or estimate the number of animals remaining in a vanishing species. The statisticians who hold advanced degrees develop and analyze statistical methods along with the mathematical and computational theories behind them.

The Department of Statistics offers two options for the Statistics Major leading to the Bachelor of Science degree:

  1. Applied Statistics Option - This option prepares students for careers in applied statistics, statistical programming, and other areas that require broad knowledge of statistical ideas and techniques.
  2. Mathematical Statistics Option - It is excellent preparation for graduate study in statistics or other quantitative fields and for many types of employment. The option can lead to a dual degree in the Department of Mathematics as well.
  3. Actuarial Science - The Purdue Actuarial Science Program is an interdisciplinary program offered jointly by the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Statistics. This option prepares students for an actuarial career as well as providing complete preparation for the first five exams set by the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society. Students receive an Actuarial Science Degree, a Statistics Degree, and a Management Minor.
  4. Honors Option - At Purdue, students earn "distinction" based on their overall grade point average. Students earn "honors" by taking honors programs in their major subject. The designation "Statistics Honors" may be awarded at commencement to students who have completed the Plan of Study.

Because of the nature of statistics, you should also think about your other areas of interest. Purdue has strong programs in areas related to statistics -- Actuarial Science, Mathematics, and Mathematics Education -- as well as in fields to which statistics is applied. Students can vary the emphases of their studies by selecting courses from these fields. We recommend that Statistics majors take several courses in Computer Science. You can use two CS courses to partially fulfill the College of Science four-course laboratory science requirement. If you have interests in a specific field of application, such as biomedical statistics, ecological/environmental statistics, economics and finance, psychology, or physical sciences and engineering, you can choose courses that advance your knowledge of your chosen field and also fulfill the College of Science laboratory science and general education (GEN ED) requirements.

Students who complete the Statistics Major with Mathematical Statistics Option can arrange to obtain the M.S. in Applied Statistics degree in one additional calendar year of study. This program, which usually requires two years beyond the B.S., trains professional statisticians for work in business, government, and industry.