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Coursework and Requirements
Focus of the MA Program
The program is designed to prepare students for careers in industries that require statistical skills. The focus is on tackling statistical challenges encountered by industry rather than preparing for a PhD.
The program is for full-time students and is designed to be completed in two semesters (fall and spring). In order to obtain the M.A. in Statistics, admitted M.A. students must complete a minimum of 24 units of courses and pass a comprehensive examination.
In the first semester, all students will take intensive graduate courses in probability, theoretical statistics, and statistical computing; the typical courses are STAT 201AB and 243. In the second semester, students will take an advanced course in modern applied statistics (STAT 230), an elective, and a capstone course. The capstone will consist of a team-based learning experience that will give students the opportunity to work on a real-world problem and carry out a substantial data analysis project. It will culminate with a written report and an oral presentation of findings. The elective will depend on the student’s interests and will be decided in consultation with advisers.
All coursework used for the M.A. must be letter graded unless the course is only offered on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) basis. The total of S/U or Pass/Non-Pass (P/NP) units may only be 2.
On the Saturday before the spring semester begins in January, students will take a comprehensive exam on the theoretical foundations of statistics. There will be a two hour exam on the material of 201A and a two hour exam on the material of 201B. All students taking the exam will receive copies of previous examinations after their Worksheet for the M.A. in Statistics for advancement to candidacy has been approved by the M.A. Program Committee.
Will I be able to write a thesis instead of (or in addition to) taking the comprehensive exam?
In extremely rare cases, a thesis option may be considered by the MA advisors. Typically, this will be when either the option has been offered to the student at the time of admission, or if the student arrives with substantial progress in research in an area of interest to our faculty.
If approved for the thesis option, you must find three faculty, with one from outside the Statistics Department, to be on your thesis committee. Both you and the thesis committee chair must agree on the topic of your thesis. Please provide a short description of your thesis topic, the names of your committee members and the signature of your committee chair on the Worksheet for the M.A. in Statistics. In addition, you will also need to complete Graduate Division’s Application for Candidacy for the Master's Degree (Plan 1 - Thesis)
Will I be able to take courses other than those that are required?
Course selection will be done in consultation with Statistics Department MA advisors. Some students do take additional courses, including courses in other departments, depending on their background and level of preparation. Other professional graduate programs on campus all have their own policies for enrollment in their courses. After appropriate consultation with Statistics MA advisors, students will need to check these policies before registering for such courses.
Can I transfer to the PhD program?
There is no transfer arrangement into the PhD program. To gain acceptance into the PhD program, you must apply along with all other applicants, and you will be considered in the same way as other applicants. Students should know that admission to the UC Berkeley Statistics PhD program is highly competitive.
How does the program compare with the former two-year MA program?
There are two main changes, motivated by student feedback but primarily by the explosion in the demand for well-trained statisticians in industry. First, the program has changed from a two-year program for half-time students to a one-year program for full-time students. Second, there is an emphasis on students receiving hands-on experience with modern data analysis to prepare them for jobs in industry. The level and number of requirements has not diminished; if anything, the intensity of work has increased. For example, there is now a capstone experience replacing a traditional course. The program has new resources including its own program coordinator, common room, and so on. As a result of all of the changes, the new program has an excitement, focus, and direction that is of great benefit for students going to industry.
How to Apply to Advance to Candidacy
Students must advance to candidacy in the semester in which they plan to graduate and have completed all coursework or be currently enrolled in the courses required to complete the degree. All coursework for the M.A. must be completed by the end of the semester in which you intend to graduate. In order to apply for advancement to candidacy, you need to complete the Worksheet for the M.A. in Statistics. For those approved by the M.A. Program Committee Chair, to apply for the M.A. thesis option, you will also need to complete Graduate Division’s Application for Candidacy for the Master's Degree (Plan 1 - Thesis).
You must apply for advancement to candidacy by the end of the third week of the semester in which you plan to graduate and be registered or on approved Filing Fee in the semester in which you sit for the written examination or file your thesis. If you have completed the M.A. coursework requirements and need only to take the written exam or file your thesis, you might be eligible for the Filing Fee option. To be eligible for Filing Fee, you must have a minimum of two semesters of academic residence and were registered in the previous semester. If you have other questions regarding filing fee eligibility, please visit the Graduate Division website.
If you already have a master's degree from any institution including UC Berkeley and are applying for advancement to candidacy for a master's degree in Statistics, you must:
- Provide a transcript (unofficial one)
- List courses used for your previous master's degree (on the second page of the Worksheet for the M.A. in Statistics)
Please submit your completed paperwork to the Master's Program Coordinator at 367 Evans Hall for review by the M.A. Program Committee. The department deadline to turn in paperwork is by the end of the third week of the semester in which you plan to graduate.
Duration and Finances
Do I have to complete the program in two semesters?
Students are expected to study full time and finish the program in two semesters. In cases where there is a compelling academic reason for a student to extend the duration beyond two semesters, permission may be granted after consideration by MA advisors. Students will be responsible for tuition, fees, and personal expenses for every semester in which they are registered as students at Berkeley.
What are the total tuition and fees for the program?
The current tuition and fees can be found on the website of the Office of the Registrar. Please note that all tuition and fees are subject to change pending UC Regents approval, expected in July.
How much financial aid will I receive?
Financial aid is limited. Students typically cover their expenses through a combination of private funds, support from their employer (in the case of students who are already in careers), and student loans.
If you need additional funding to cover the cost of your education, please visit the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office website and/or call the financial aid office for more information on what steps to take and what other forms of financial aid you qualify for.
Will I have the opportunity to gain a paid position as a Graduate Student Instructor (Teaching Assistant) or Graduate Student Researcher?
Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) appointments are reserved for PhD students. Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) appointments are also normally given to PhD students. However, a small number of GSI opportunities may be available for MA students in their second semester. Students will be informed of these opportunities in the fall; selection will be based on teaching experience, English proficiency, performance in the MA program, and the student’s schedule. Please be aware that new GSIs are required to take a pedagogy course, over and above the regular coursework of the MA program.
For information about graduate student life and housing options, please visit the following sites:
What is the proportion of international students for this program?
We do not admit students based on national origin and we do not have fixed proportions of domestic and international students. The city of Berkeley and the Department of Statistics have always had a diverse and lively international community.
For questions regarding visas, employment of international students, or any other questions regarding temporary stay in the United States, please visit the Berkeley International Office Website or call them at (510) 642-2818.
What Are Recent Grads Doing Now?
- Ascend Analytics, Developer of Risk Analytics
- Citigroup, Quantitative Analyst
- Fair Issac, Project Analyst
- Google, Analyst
- Hewitt Associates, Actuarial Associate
- Hewitt Consulting, Actuarial Intern
- Providian Financial, Financial Analyst
- The Athenian School, Math Teacher
- Tillinghost Business of Towers Perrin, Actuarial Consultant
- Towers Perrin, Actuarial Associate
- UCSF, Data Analyst
- University of Washington, PhD Student
- UPenn, Wharton School, Finance PhD Program
- Wecker and Associates, Analyst
- Wells Fargo, Trader
Many of our former MA students are now in senior positions in industry and return to the department to recruit current students. The department’s new Industrial Alliance Program also brings representatives of local firms to the department and creates recruitment opportunities for students. As of 2013 our alliance members include: Genentech, Deloitte, Google, Veracyte, Citadel, Genomic Health, and NTT Docomo.
Is there a separate admissions application for current UCB graduate students?
Yes, effective fall 2012, all current UCB graduate students outside of the Statistics Department interested in obtaining an M.A. degree in statistics must apply during our regular admissions cycle to be considered for admission to the M.A. degree program and, if admitted, be officially enrolled in the M.A. program for two semesters and pay the Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition (PDST). However, students will have the option to take the required coursework prior to applying. The deadline to apply is mid-December.
Please submit the Master’s Application for Admission for Current UCB Student Only and Petition for Change of Major Degree Goal along with your Statement of Purpose and a Letter of Recommendation to the Graduate Student Services Advisor in 375 Evans Hall by the graduate admissions deadline. Please note: UCB undergraduate students do not have a separate application and should apply through the normal online application that other prospective students apply through.
How many students applied for admission?
Approximately 250 applications were reviewed for admission to the 2013-2014 MA program.
What is the size of this program?
Currently, 50 students are enrolled in the MA program. Approximately 30 students are expected to enroll for the 2013-2014 academic year.