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Statistics

Overview 

The Statistics major is offered by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics within the College of Science & Mathematics.

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

Statistics is offered as a major at JMU. The Mathematics and Statistics Department offers a program that meets the needs of both the public and the private sectors for graduates with degrees in Statistics. The program has two tracks, Applied Statistics and Mathematical Statistics, one of which must be chosen by each student completing this major. Students interested in the applications of statistics and planning to seek immediate employment as practicing statisticians upon graduation are advised to choose the Applied Statistics track. Emphasis in this track is on the applications of statistics to various fields of study. Students in this track will take courses on the design and analysis of experiments, regression analysis and sample surveys, as well as other courses in applied and theoretical statistics, probability and mathematics. Students who choose the applied statistics track are encouraged to take as many elective courses as possible in applied fields of choice. The Mathematical Statistics track is designed for students who have an interest in the mathematics of statistics or plan to go to graduate school in statistics. Students in this track will see more emphasis on probability and the theory of statistics. These students will also have a chance to take additional courses in applied and theoretical statistics as well as courses in mathematics. Students in this track are recommended to take elective courses from the statistics and mathematics courses offered by the department that will prepare them for graduate studies.

More About the Field 

Statistics is a science that deals with the collection, analysis, and presentation of numerical data. Statisticians design studies and surveys, then carry out and interpret the numerical results of these studies and surveys in a broad range of disciplines. Statisticians provide crucial guidance in determining what information is reliable and which predictions can be trusted. They often help search for clues to the solution of a scientific mystery, and sometimes keep investigators from being misled by false impressions. Statisticians work on many challenging problems, such as:

  • analyzing consumer demand for products and services within a marketing firm, corporation, or consulting firm
  • designing and analyzing studies to determine if new drugs and medical devices are safe and effective within a pharmaceutical company, medical research center, or the FDA
  • helping scientists and future scientists collect and analyze data to create information and develop new statistical methodology within university departments of statistics, mathematics, business, biostatistics, business, psychology, or ecology
  • estimating the unemployment rate in the United States at the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Specialization

There are few industries / fields that do not rely on, to some extent, the use of statistics. Due to the applied nature of many statistical professions, statisticians often develop skills specific to a particular field of study. For government settings surveys are developed and analyzed to determine how many people are unemployed each month, increasing or decreasing rates of violent crime, or what the U.S. exports and imports to countries around the world. Government agencies want data on issues like these to guide policy, and government statistical agencies provide them by surveys of households and businesses. In medicine, statisticians search for improved medical treatments through careful experiments that compare promising new treatments with the current strategies. They work with medical teams to design the experiments and to analyze the complex data produced. Studies of the environment require data on the abundance and location of plants and animals, on the spread of pollution from its sources, and on the possible effects of changes in human activities. Statistics used in market research can determine promising locations for a new retail outlet or specific consumer taste in music. Market researchers use both government data and their own surveys to answer questions like these. Statisticians design the elaborate surveys that gather data for both public and private use.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Some common combinations with a Statistics major are: Biology, Computer Science, Economics, Environmental Management, Geographic Science, Geology, Health Sciences, Integrated Science and Technology, Kinesiology, Logic and Reasoning, Mathematics, Physics, Political Communication, Political Science, Psychology, Quantitative Finance, Sociology, and Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Those students who are able to think independently, creatively and like the challenge of constantly learning new things and tackling new problems. A strong interest in mathematics and computing is common also.

Careers

Recently, JobsRated.com ranked Statistician as the third best job in America, one place behind Actuary, based on salary, work conditions, and other factors. Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose nontraditional career fields that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Actuary
  • Biometrician
  • Biostatistician
  • Consultant
  • Cryptologist
  • Economist
  • Environmental Statistician
  • Estate Planner
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Modeling Designer
  • Financial Planner
  • Forensic Statistician
  • Government Statistician
  • Information Scientist
  • Investigator
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Mathematician
  • Medical Statistician
  • Numerical Analyst
  • Operations Research Analyst
  • Pharmaceutical Statistician
  • Professor
  • Psychometrician
  • Quality Control Analyst
  • Risk Analyst
  • Securities Officer
  • Software Engineer
  • Statistician
  • Survey Designer
  • Technical Writer

Who Employs Graduates?

Banks & Investment Firms, Chemical & Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, Colleges/Universities, Communication Companies, Computer Service & Software Firms, Consulting Firms, Engineering Firms, Environmental Agencies, Federal & State Government Offices and Labs, Insurance Industries, Marketing Firms, Medical Research Firms, Political Organizations, Psychological Research Firms and Sports Agencies.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in the numerous undergraduate research opportunities as well as individual and small group projects available in the department. There are a number of "hands-on" experiences available to students in Statistics, through the Center for Mathematical Modeling, the Office of Statistical Services, and in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.  

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 

Market Research Analysts
Statisticians
Actuaries

Research Careers
JMU CAREER OUTCOMES 

Visit our Career Outcomes page to find out what alumni were doing right after graduating with this major.

EXPLORE PROFESSIONS

Log in to Vault for access to detailed information on over 900 professions including employment prospects, estimated salaries, possible job titles, and top companies.

MORE RESEARCH TOOLS

Visit our Research Careers page for even more career research tools.

Copyright

© Career & Academic Planning, James Madison University,

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from JMU Career & Academic Planning. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to cap@jmu.edu

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