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

A Day in the Life of Americans

I wanted to see how daily patterns emerge at the individual level and how a person’s entire day plays out. So I simulated 1,000 of them.

How You Will Die

So far we’ve seen when you will die and how other people tend to die. Now let’s put the two together to see how and when you will die, given your sex, race, and age.

Top Brewery Road Trip, Routed Algorithmically

There are a lot of great craft breweries in the United States, but there is only so much time. This is the computed best way to get to the top rated breweries and how to maximize the beer tasting experience. Every journey begins with a single sip.

Reviving the Statistical Atlas of the United States with New Data

Due to budget cuts, there is no plan for an updated atlas. So I recreated the original 1870 Atlas using today’s publicly available data.