MS Degree Regulations

Revised 5/01/2014. These regulations are effective for students entering the program in summer/fall 2014 or later. Current students have until fall 2016 to complete the program under the old requirements. For past regulations see Past Master's Degree Regulations.

The objective of the Master’s Degree requirement is to satisfy the Department that the candidate has the potential to be a practicing statistician, it being understood that a practicing statistician must also have a proper grasp of statistical theory.

The Master’s Degree program and the PhD program are distinct. The student can obtain a PhD without first obtaining a Master’s Degree. A Master’s Degree is regarded as evidence of having the skills of a practicing statistician. It confers a specific status on the recipient and it is hoped that most students will obtain a Master’s Degree, regardless of whether or not they proceed to a PhD The requirements for a Master’s Degree in Statistics are:

  • Satisfaction of University requirements.
  • Adequate course performance (see last point and Criteria for Satisfactory Progress).
  • Passing a competency test of the candidate’s potential as a practicing statistician (again bearing in mind that this may include testing of theoretical competence).
  • There are five required courses: Stat 609 or 709, 610 or 710, 849, 850, and 998.
  • In addition, the student must complete six or more elective credits from statistics courses numbered 600 or higher (with the exception of 609, 610, 699, 709, 710, 849, 850, or 998)
  • The following will also be allowed to count towards the 30-credit minimum for the master's degree (with permission of the Curriculum and Degree Requirement Committee)
      1. Up to six credits from statistics courses numbered 327, 349, 351, 411, 421, 456, or 471 (students may not count both 456 and 760, 349, and 701, or 471 and 771)
      2. Up to six credits of research (669)
      3. Up to six credits of graduate courses in other departments complementary to the student's interest areas
      4. Up to six credits of statistics coursework at the 600-level or above, taken while an undergraduate or special student at UW-Madison, provided that the work was completed no more than five years prior to admission to the master's degree (with permission of the chair of the Masters Exam Committee). If the work was completed as a special student,l students must also pay the difference between special student and graduate tuition.
      5. If completing the Biostatistics option, six credits must include three credits of Stat 641 and three credits of either Stat 642, 741, or 877.
      6. The student must obtain a grade of B or higher in every course used to satisfy the MS degree requirement.

      See our page on How to Apply to our graduate programs.

      Competency Test

      After the candidate successfully completes 998 or the semester in which 998 is taken, the candidate must demonstrate to an examining committee of the faculty the potential to be a practicing statistician. The committee is given latitude to decide the details on each occasion as to how this will be done. See Masters Exam Schedule for details of the examination and report writing. The general form of the examination is as follows:

      • The candidate will be presented with one or more written problems or projects and asked to provide a brief written report involving a suitable statistical analysis seven days later.
      • The candidate will meet with the clients briefly early in the examination period.
      • After a further period of time, not to exceed ten days, the candidate will go before a Committee of faculty members for an oral examination based on questions arising from the above problems or projects. It is understood that the area of questioning may be extended to cover additional aspects of the candidate’s theoretical or practical background on which satisfaction of competence is considered desirable by the committee.

      The MS degree examination will be the responsibility of a committee of faculty members (usually four) appointed by the faculty. Typically, the appointment will be for two years and half the committee will be reappointed each year to provide overlap and continuity.

      A candidate may attempt the competency test at most twice. If a candidate initially attempts the MS degree exam in the fall and does not pass, a second attempt must be made in the following spring or fall. If a candidate initially attempts the MS degree exam in the spring and does not pass, a second attempt must be made in the following fall or spring. A candidate desiring to take this exam must register with the Examination Committee prior to the exam date. Picking up the exam constitutes an attempt regardless of whether or not the examination is submitted for grading.

      Graduate School Higher Learning Commission Requirements

      • A Master's degree requires 30 credits (not including audits or pass/fail). [Minimum Graduate Credit Requirement]
      • At least 16 of these credits must be taken in-residence at UW-Madison. [Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement]
      • Half of the degree course work (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed in Statistics courses numbered 600 or higher (which our department considers to be graduate courses). [Minimum Graduate Course Work (50%) Requirement]
      • With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate course work from other institutions toward the graduate degree credit and graduate course work (50%) requirements. Course work earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. [Prior Course Work Requirement]
      • With program approval, up to 6 statistics credits from a UW-Madison undergraduate degree at the 600 level or above are allowed to count toward minimum graduate degree credits. Course work earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. [Prior Course Work Requirement]
      • With program approval, and payment of the difference between special graduate tuition, up to 15 statistics credits completed at UW-Madison while a University Special Student at the 300 level or above are allowed to count toward minimum graduate degree and graduate residence credit requirements. Of these credits, those at the 700-level or above may also count toward the minimum graduate course work (50%) requirement. Course work earned five or more years prior to admission to master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. [Prior Course Work Requirement]
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