Statistics, PhD

Program Category: PhD Programs
Chair: Tian Zheng
Director of Graduate Studies: John Cunningham
Degree Programs: Full-Time: MA, MPhil, PhD

The Department of Statistics offers programs of instruction that include theoretical and applied statistics and probability. The department also offers cooperative programs in operations research with the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, in the mathematics of finance with the Department of Mathematics, in actuarial science with the School of Continuing Education, and in quantitative methods in social science with the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy. Columbia University and the New York area are notable for wide-ranging opportunities for the application of statistics. The department maintains ties with industry, Wall Street, and medical and basic science researchers in New York and also helps to serve the statistical needs of the university community. There is a continuing demand for well-trained statisticians, and the department has been successful in placing its graduates in positions at universities and research institutes as well as in government, business, industry, and Wall Street.

The PhD program prepares students for research careers in probability and statistics in academia and industry. Students admitted to the PhD program earn the MA and MPhil along the way. The first year of the program is spent on foundational courses in theoretical statistics, applied statistics, and probability. In the following years, students take advanced topics courses and also contribute to the department's consulting service. Work toward the dissertation typically begins in the second year. Students also have opportunities to take part in a wide variety of projects involving applied probability or applications of statistics.

Each student admitted to the PhD program receives a full fellowship for up to five years, covering the cost of tuition and health fees and medical insurance available through the university. Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. The fellowship includes a stipend for the nine-month academic year, and summer support, while not guaranteed, is generally provided. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of graduate students, and all graduate fellowships involve opportunities for teaching responsibilities.

Special Admissions Requirements

Preparation for the program should include a strong and thorough knowledge of mathematics, including linear algebra (through the level of MATH V2020 at Columbia), advanced calculus (through the level of MATH V1201 at Columbia), and elements of modern analysis. Experience in theoretical or applied probability and statistics is necessary. Familiarity with computer programming is also helpful.

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a personal statement, and three letters of evaluation from academic sources.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

For more information, refer to our Admissions Information and Frequently Asked Questions pages.

*GSAS will accept up to four recommendations, regardless of the number required by your program of interest. However, to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.