A master’s degree in statistics is worthwhile

Posted to Statistics  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

Statistician (and brand new PhD student) Jerzy Wieczorek explains the usefulness of a master’s degree in statistics.

There’s a huge difference between undergraduate Stats 101 (apply a few standard procedures to nice clean datasets) and real data analysis work (figure out how to clean the data and modify your procedures to the messy context in front of you). So a masters-level mathematical/theoretical stats course, where you learn to prove which estimators have desirable properties or to derive tests that are appropriate in a given situation, is invaluable when you run into non-standard problems. The masters degree will also expose you to many techniques that you probably didn’t cover as an undergrad: designing good experiments, computer-intensive methods like the bootstrap, special-use techniques like time series or spatial statistics, other inference philosophies like Bayesian statistics, etc.

Yep.

Of course Jerzy and me are slightly biased. Saying a master’s degree in statistics isn’t worthwhile is like saying we wasted our time, but if you really want to learn data — whether it’s for analysis, visualization, journalism, or whatever — statistics helps you get there.

And whereas the PhD route takes a certain type of person, most master’s degrees take only two years to finish, and your analysis skills increase exponentially compared to that of an undergrad. Graduate statistics is also way more interesting, because you focus more on practical usage and less on hypothesis tests.

Favorites

Who is Older and Younger than You

Here’s a chart to show you how long you have until you start to feel your age.

Graphical perception – learn the fundamentals first

Before you dive into the advanced stuff – like just about everything in your life – you have to learn the fundamentals before you know when you can break the rules.

Jobs Charted by State and Salary

Jobs and pay can vary a lot depending on where you live, based on 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s an interactive to look.

Years You Have Left to Live, Probably

The individual data points of life are much less predictable than the average. Here’s a simulation that shows you how much time is left on the clock.