PhD Program, Academic Progress and Deadlines

Policy and Procedures as of March 2020

  1. First year course requirements and Preliminary Examinations. The program offers four core sequences:
  • Probability (STAT 30400, 38100, 38300)
  • Mathematical statistics (STAT 30400, 30100, 30210)
  • Applied statistics (STAT 34300, 34700, 34800)
  • Computational mathematics and machine learning (STAT 30900, 31015/31020, 37710).

All students must take the Applied Statistics  and Theoretical Statistics sequence. In addition it is highly recommended that students take a third core sequence based on their interests and in consultation with the Department Graduate Advisor (DGA).  At the start of their second year, the students take two preliminary examinations. All students must take the Applied Statistics Prelim. For the second the students can choose to take either the Theoretical Statistics or the Probability prelim. Students  planning to take the Probability prelim should take the Probability sequence as their third sequence.

Incoming first-year students may request the DGA to take one or both of their preliminary exams. If approved, and if the student passes one or more of these, then he/she will be excused from the requirement of taking the first-year courses in that subject.

Incoming students are advised by the DGA until they find a faculty advisor for their PhD thesis work.

All first year students are required to attend the Statistics Consulting Seminar and participate in at least one project.

  1. Second year requirements.

    In their second year, PhD students typically take a number of advanced topics  courses in statistics, probability, computation, and applications. These should be selected with the dual objective of (i) acquiring a broad overview of current research areas, and (ii) settling on a particular research topic and dissertation supervisor. It is recommended that the students take at least one regular class based course each quarter. In addition students can ask to take reading courses with faculty to learn more in depth about their fields of research. Students have considerable latitude in selecting their second-year courses, but their programs must be approved by the Department Graduate Advisor.  Students are expected to find a dissertation advisor by the end of the second year.

    All second year students are required to attend the Statistics Consulting Seminar and participate in at least one project.
  2. Third year requirements. Thesis Advisor and Dissertation Committee.

    By the end of the third year, each PhD student, after consultation with his or her dissertation advisor, shall establish a committee of at least three members, at least two of whom should be from Statistics. The departmental form listing the committee members, with their signatures, must be filed in the Department office by the end of Spring Quarter of the third year. The composition of the committee may be changed at any time if the student or faculty so choose; however, it must always include the student's dissertation advisor and at least two of the committee members must be regular faculty members from the Department of Statistics. Any such change must be filed as a resubmitted and newly completed and signed form with the Department office. As long as a student has not found a thesis advisor the DGA will remain the student’s advisor.

    All third year students are required to attend the Statistics Consulting Seminar and participate in at least one project.
  3. Fourth year requirements. Proposal Presentation and Admission to Candidacy

    By the end of Autumn Quarter of the fourth year, students should have completed a proposal presentation to their committee. This consists of a 5-10 page report on completed and planned research with relevant references and a 45-minute meeting with the committee discussing the proposed research. The proposal meeting will be scheduled by the student and his or her committee and reported to the department office. Acceptance of the proposal by the Dissertation Committee is a formal requirement of the Department's PhD program. After a successful proposal presentation, the student will be formally admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree. By University rules, the dissertation defense cannot occur earlier than 8 months after admission to candidacy, and the student should keep this in mind when scheduling both the proposal presentation and the defense.

    Fourth year students are required to participate in at least one project in the Consulting Seminar.

    Following the fourth year, during each year that the student remains, the student is required to have a meeting with the committee no later than November 30th of Autumn Quarter or defend by that time.
  4. Fifth year and beyond.

    Foreign students will have their visas extended beyond the fifth year on a yearly basis depending on the decision of the committee.

    Sixth-year students who are allowed to continue by their committee and are not hired as RA’s will be required to teach every quarter. Students who have not completed their dissertation and defense by the end of the sixth year will no longer receive stipends or be employed by the department. These students are required to petition the department both in order to continue in the doctoral program and for any financial support (tuition, fees). Such petition is to be made to both the Chair and the DGA before the end of Spring Quarter of the sixth year and must also have advisor support for consideration.
  5. Dissertation Defense and Submission

    The PhD degree will be awarded following a successful defense and the electronic submission of the final version of the dissertation to the University's Dissertation Office. In this process, a number of University and Department deadlines have to be obeyed. Listed in reverse order, the steps are:

a) Submission of Final Version of Dissertation:
The deadline is set by the University and is generally on a Friday in the 6th or 7th week of the quarter when the degree will be awarded. See:

for this deadline as well as guidelines for the formatting of dissertations.

b) Dissertation Defense:
The thesis defense will be an open seminar announced to the department. Following the regular question-and-answer session, the committee will remain, together with any interested faculty, and continue questioning the candidate. The decision on the thesis will then be reached in a closed meeting of the faculty present. The defense is to be scheduled at least two weeks before the University deadline indicated in point (a). A final draft of the dissertation must be made available to the entire faculty 8 days before the dissertation presentation.

c) Committee Approval of Scheduled Defense:
A draft of the dissertation should be distributed to the members of the dissertation committee no later than five weeks before the dissertation defense. The committee has to then approve that the student can reasonably expect to defend the thesis in four+ weeks

These rules delineate the minimum level of involvement of the dissertation committee. We strongly recommend that students set up their committees early and that they interact regularly with the members of their committees once they are established. In particular, we strongly recommend that those students wishing to complete the degree before September schedule their defense before the Summer Quarter, else unanticipated committee requirements may lead to the degree being delayed to the Winter Quarter.

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