Requirements and Regulations for MS Candidates

Last update: 12/11/23

These rules apply to the standard MS program of the Statistics Department. Special arrangements apply to the joint BS-MS program, to MS or MA degrees that are offered to current PhD students in this or other departments, and to part-time programs. Students are in the standard program unless otherwise stated in the letter of admission.

1. General Requirements:

  1. Course Requirements—At Least Nine Courses in Total:
    • The theoretical statistics sequence (STAT30030-30040-(32950))
    • The applied statistics sequence (STAT34300-34700-34800)
    • NOTE: Students are required to take only one of the last courses in one of the sequences (either STAT32950 or STAT34800). The other course can be taken and used as one of the regular elective courses.
    • Four regular elective courses (see 2d below)
    • Students are allowed to take up to nine other elective courses (see 2d-2e below)
  2. A master's paper with a half-hour oral presentation.
  3. Optional participation in the departmental Consulting Program.

2. Course Regulations:

  1. The required sequence STAT30030-30040-[32950 OR 34800] must be taken in the first year.
  2. The required sequence STAT34300-34700-[32950 OR 34800] may be taken in the first or second year depending on each student's background. Well-prepared students are strongly recommended to take this sequence in the first year. The Departmental Master's Advisor (DMA) must approve the decision of whether to take the sequence in the first or second year, or any hybrid solution.
  3. With permission from the DMA, the Ph.D. level theoretical statistics sequence (STAT30400-30100-(302X0)) may be substituted for 300X0 part of the theoretical sequence.
  4. Elective courses fall into the following categories:
    1. Regular elective courses. Ordinary courses, level 300 or above, which may not be seminars, reading courses, etc. These courses must be in the Statistics Department or on the DMA's current list of regular graduate electives in other departments. These courses count towards the minimum of three elective courses required by the degree. (Past courses that have been accepted as electives.)
    2. Preparatory courses. If the DMA determines that the student is not ready for the required sequences or for regular electives, the DMA may permit the student to take more elementary ordinary courses. Such courses can only count among the "nine other elective courses" in Article 1 above.
    3. Special-permission elective courses. Courses that are desirable for in-depth study of an applied area may be approved by the DMA. Such courses can only count among the "nine other elective courses" in Article 1 above.
    4. Research training courses. Students may take up to two quarters of STAT 40100, or (when offered) STAT 39900 or seminars. This must in each case be approved by the course instructor and the DMA. The two courses can only count among the "nine other elective courses" in Article 1 above.
  5. For the purposes of these regulations, a "standard course" is one that is either required, regular elective, or preparatory. In the first Autumn Quarter of the program, students must take standard courses only. The following Winter and Spring Quarters, students must take at least two standard courses. Students who stay for further quarters must take at least one standard course per quarter.
  6. If prior to admission to the MS program a student has already taken some of the required courses under a different University of Chicago program (as an undergraduate, as a graduate student in another department, or as a graduate student at large), and if these courses cannot be counted towards the master's degree, other courses may be substituted in order to fulfill the nine-course minimum requirement. The choice of such courses must be approved by the DMA. The same rule applies to regular elective courses. For example, suppose a student has taken 30030-30040 and one regular elective course before entering the program. The student will then normally need to take the STAT34300-34700-[32950 OR 34800] sequence and two regular elective courses. To get up to nine courses, the student may then take any three standard elective courses (see 2e), subject to the rules in 2d-e, and with the approval of the DMA.
  7. All course programs must obtain the signature of the student's faculty advisor and the DMA.

3. Grade Requirements:

  1. All courses, except research training courses, must be taken for a letter grade. If a student takes at least 12 courses outside of research training courses (2d4), one course may be taken for Pass/Fail.
  2. All Ph.D. level courses, as specified in section (d) below, must have received a grade in the C range or above in order to be counted towards the degree.
  3. All other courses counted towards the degree must have received a grade in the B range or above.
  4. For the purpose of counting grades, a course is considered a Ph.D. level course if it satisfies one of the following:
    • 300 level or above in Statistics, Mathematics, or Computer Science;
    • 400 level or above in Graduate School of Business if approved by the DMA as a Ph.D. level course;
    • 300 level or above in any department or school approved by the DMA as a Ph.D. level course.

4. Master's Paper Regulations:

  1. The Master's Paper must be completed, at the latest, by the end of Summer Quarter of the second year.
  2. Students may ask any faculty member of the Department of Statistics to be their master's paper advisor. Advising is by mutual agreement between student and faculty member. This faculty member then supervises and approves the candidate's master's paper. Faculty outside the department may also serve as advisors but then a DOS faculty coadvisor is needed to sign off on the final paper. The choice of non DOS faculty as advisors needs the approval of the DMA. The DMA may approve papers on instructions of the advisor if the latter is not available in person.
  3. Every student must have a master's paper advisor by the end of the Autumn term of the second year. Once an advisor has been found, the student must immediately inform the DMA and the Student Affairs Administrator of the choice. The advisor then also takes over the course advising role previously performed by the departmentally assigned initial advisor. In the case of advisors outside the department, this role falls to the departmental co-advisor.
  4. It is highly recommended that each student speak to potential faculty advisors as early as possible. An advisor may require you to have taken certain courses or read certain material before starting research. For example, you do not want to find yourself asking someone to be your advisor in Autumn of your second year, only to find that s/he requires advisees to have taken a certain course in Spring.
  5. Approval of the master's paper is deemed to have taken place when a final copy of the paper, signed by the advisor (or the DMA), is filed by a faculty member with the Student Affairs Administrator.
  6. In any quarter, there will be a deadline by which the paper must be approved if the student wishes to graduate in that quarter. The deadline varies from quarter to quarter, and it is the student's responsibility to keep informed of the date. The Student Affairs Administrator will provide this information.
  7. The paper must be presented in a 1/2 hour master's seminar before the end of the quarter in which the student graduates. A student who wishes to present in a particular week must inform his/her advisor (or DMA if the advisor is not available) two weeks in advance of the presentation. Upon the approval by the advisor (or DMA), the seminar will be scheduled by the DMA. The seminar is open to all.

5. Consulting Program:

Participation in the consulting program is optional for MS students.

6. Length of the Program:

We estimate that the program takes between three and six quarters to complete, plus up to two summer quarters. The length of the program depends on which year the student takes the required sequence STAT34300-34700-[32950 OR 34800], but also on other factors. Depending on background and maturity, students are recommended to stay for at least part of a second year, so as to gain as much proficiency in statistics as possible. For example, more sophistication is usually required in core computational skills, as taught in STAT 309-310. Also, statistics as a field is becoming more diverse, with ever new applications ranging among medicine via biology, engineering, image- and voice-recognition, environmental science, social sciences and finance. Many of the applications require more in-depth study, in the form of applied courses, often in other departments. The overall effect of these factors is that incoming students often need to take more courses to firm up their degree. Other activities that may take time and maturation are the consulting program of the department and developing the research skills needed to write the master's paper.

In principle, the program can be completed in three quarters , though most students stay for at least four quarters. It will not be possible to extend the program beyond 24 months (six quarters and the two summers after each academic year).

7. Exceptions, Amendments, and Transition Rules:

  1. All the rules listed above will be strictly enforced and no individual faculty member can grant any waiver or exemption to any candidate. A waiver requires a simple majority approval of the entire voting faculty body. However, the faculty may, at its discretion, delegate to the DMA the power to grant or deny waivers in cases for which a precedent has been established, or in other clearly pre-specified circumstances.
  2. To petition for a waiver, a candidate must submit a written request with clearly documented supporting material to the DMA. The DMA may deny the petition if the DMA finds that there are not enough grounds to submit it to the voting faculty. In such cases, a candidate can appeal the DMA's decision to the DGA (Departmental Graduate Advisor), whose decision on whether to allow the petition to be submitted is final.
  3. The whole voting faculty body has the right to amend any of the rules by a simple majority vote.
  4. Any new rule goes into effect immediately once it is approved by the voting faculty. A candidate who is enrolled in the master's program prior to the establishment of that rule may, unless otherwise specified, choose to follow the new rule or the old rule, if it existed, as long as he/she will graduate by the end of the next academic year (not counting the year in which the new rule is approved). After that, the new rule is in effect.
  5. Students are expected to maintain good academic standing throughout their graduate career. The department may impose restrictions or take other actions (including placing a student on Academic Probation) if a student fails to remain in good standing.

8. Contact Information:

Students with questions may contact Matthew Stephens (Department Chair), Keisha Prowoznik (Student Affairs Administrator), Yali Amit (Department Graduate Advisor), Mei Wang (Department Master’s Advisor); Bahareh Lampert (Dean of Students in the Physical Sciences Division), or Amanda Young (Associate Director, Graduate Student Affairs) in UChicagoGRAD.