Frequently Asked Questions

What is the deadline for applying for the Fall term?

The application deadline for applying for the Fall term for full consideration of admission and financial aid is January 15th.

What materials are necessary in order for my application to be considered complete? 

Application:  You must submit the application electronically through the GradCAS portal:

Transcripts:  All students seeking admission to graduate study must hold a bachelor’s degree (or the equivalent of a four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution as determined by the University of Pittsburgh).
Applicants can upload copies of their undergraduate and graduate transcripts via the online application.  Certified transcripts and translations of all undergraduate and graduate study are required at the time of admission.

Letters of recommendation:  These must be submitted electronically through GradCAS. We require 3 letters of recommendation.

Personal Statement: The personal statement should include educational and career objectives and their relevance to the goals of the PhD (or Master's) program to which you are applying.  What are your primary interests within your intellectual and professional goals?  Is there a particular area of Statistics you like and why?  And simply, why you want to study in this department.  If you are applying for a PhD, and if you have any, provide a description of previous research experience you may have had and/or other relevant information related to publications or honors received. 

GRE scores: The GRE is recommended but not mandatory for PhD applicants. It is not required for Master's applicants. The scores must be self-reported on the application and officially submitted to us.  There is no required minimum score. 

International students:  English language proficiency demonstrated by TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo.


Are your programs in the STEM field? 

Yes. All of our PhD and master's programs are in the STEM field. 

Can I get a pre-evaluation?

Responding to such requests exceeds our resources.  Further, questions of whether or not one receives admission with support depend on the funds we have available and the quality of the other applications we receive.  These are factors we will not know until after our deadline of January 15th and the committee does a complete review of all applications submitted. Thus, we regret that we are unable to preview resumes or give advice about applicants’ chances of admission. Please see the next three questions that concern what we are looking for.

What are the prerequisites for entry into the program?

An applicant’s background should include three semesters of calculus and one semester of linear algebra. If you do not have these courses due to a different curriculum system, please include a brief explanation in your personal statement. It is desirable to have had a year of probability and mathematical statistics.  Note that a prior degree in mathematics or statistics is not required. 

What are you looking for in an applicant to the program?

Our admission committee will examine each applicant’s potential for success in the degree program according to multiple indicators, including academic record as well as broader qualities, skills, and experiences as manifest in their transcripts, curriculum vitae, personal statement, letters of recommendation and so forth. Diversity, inclusion, and equity are central to our mission of educational and scholarly excellence.

We will be looking for both cognitive and non-cognitive characteristics such as creativity, resilience, planning and organization, ethics and integrity, communication skills, and teamwork. We will be looking for trajectories of an applicant’s achievement. The quality of your school; the strength of departments in which prior education was obtained; quality and depth of your preparation in mathematics, statistics and computer science; the grades received; letters of recommendation from knowledgeable people (primarily your teachers); and experience in scientific research and particularly experience in applying statistics in scientific research, are the factors that influence our choices among otherwise equivalent candidates.

For international students, the apparent ability to handle teaching duties in English and other evidence of your ability to communicate in English is very important to us. The University’s minimum TOEFL score is 90 with a 22 on all 4 sections.  However, for potential TA’s, both speaking and listening scores should be in the mid to high 20’s.

Do you accept applicants with backgrounds other than statistics?

Our past students have come from undergraduate and graduate programs in mathematics, computer science, information science, physics, chemistry, engineering, economics, biology, medicine and of course statistics.  We look carefully at whether you have had enough math (3 semesters of calculus, 1 semester linear algebra or matrix theory) and had some mathematical statistics and probability. Given an adequate background in these areas, experience in applying statistics in science, business or public affairs is a definite (and strong) asset.  

What about letters of recommendation?  Can they be from someone outside of my department or an employer?

Not all letters of recommendation have to be from your department, and you certainly can submit a letter from an employer.  The most useful letters of recommendation that we receive must be able to give us a first-hand (not hearsay) account of the qualities that will be relevant to academic pursuits in work on advanced degrees, (ie., intellectual ability, mathematical and statistical background, scientific and statistical insight, ability to do research, writing and speaking ability, perseverance, etc.).  Because few employers are able to give such information, we prefer that at least two of your recommendation letters be from former teachers.

Do you require the GRE exam?

The GRE is a recommended but not mandatory for PhD applications. It is not required for master's applications. The institutional code for the University of Pittsburgh is 2927, and if needed, the department code for Statistics is 0705. GRE scores are acceptable for five years after the test date. 

Do you require the GRE in Advanced Math?

We do not require this exam.  If you have had few formal mathematics courses and are largely self-taught in calculus and linear algebra, doing well on the advanced Math GRE might be convincing evidence that you are well-prepared in mathematics for our program.

Do you require the TOEFL?  Can you explain the importance of TOEFL scores?

Yes, we require the TOEFL (or IETLS and Duolingo) for all international applicants.  The minimum TOEFL score we accept is 90 on the internet-based test with a minimum of 22 on all 4 sections.  TOEFL scores are only valid for two years.

For international applicants, the English test is the only objective information that we will have about your ability to listen to, and clearly speak in English.  Because nearly all of the financial assistance that we have to give comes in the form of teaching assistantships,  we place considerable weight on English-speaking ability. For potential TA’s, both speaking and listening should be in the mid to high 20’s. 

Note:  We will accept IELTS and Duolingo scores in place of the TOEFL. Details and Examptions can be found here


What financial aid is offered?

The department has been successful in finding support for all PhD students through teaching assistantships, fellowships and research assistantships.  For entering students, teaching assistantships and fellowships are the primary source of financial support.  First-year teaching assistantships are automatically renewed for a second year assuming the student is making satisfactory academic progress and does his/her duties satisfactorily. 

The support offered usually covers all tuition and fees, a living stipend and health care benefits.  In addition, if students elect to remain in school the Summer Semesters, we also try to award additional stipends for the summer sessions.

We are not able to offer financial support for master students. When the budget for part-time work permits and there is a need, master’s-level graduate students may be hired as part-time Instructors, part-time TA to lead a recitation or assist as a Grader. Part-time TAs does not have tuition remission or medical insurance package. Students interested in working as part-time TA shall contact the department once admitted into our master programs. However, these matters are handled on a semester-by-semester basis and are not guaranteed. 

Is there any option available to pursue the masters degree in part-time, rather than full-time?

Yes. Master’s students must complete all requirements for a master’s degree within four consecutive calendar years of the first registration. Within that time frame,  the students can adjust the schedule to whatever fits their needs.

Each semester (Fall/Spring), the status will be automatically determined based on the number of credits enrolled (students enroll in nine or more credits are considered as full-time students). Part-time students pay per credit, and full-time students pay per semester. Students can also take courses in summer terms and pay per credit. 

International Students who need Visas are required to maintain full-time student status, except for the last semester toward finishing the degree. 


If I do not get recommended for admission into the PhD program, can you re-consider me for the Master's program?

If and when you are rejected, you can ask by sending emails, and the committee will re-consider you for master programs if there is still space, but decisions would have been most likely made to master’s applicants by then, and admitted master’s students receive no financial aid.  Although students in our Ph.D. program often pick up a master's degree in the course of obtaining their Ph.D. degree, we do not regard our master’s degree programs as a way to qualify for our Ph.D. program. Students who enter our master's degree programs should expect to use their degree to either enter the workforce or transfer to another Ph.D. program.

Do you accept students in the spring semester?

Typically no. Our program is designed with a sequence of courses offered in the Fall and Spring semesters whether one begins a Master's or a PhD program.   

How long does it take to receive a Master’s degree?

Typically the Master of Arts degree in Statistics or Applied Statistics will take 3 semesters, ie, fall/spring/fall.  Students can also take courses in summer terms but with limited course offerings. The Master of Science degree in Satistics or Applied Statistics usually takes two years. 

What is the median time for completing the doctoral program?

For a full-time student, it probably takes a median time of about 5 years to complete a PhD.  

What is the difference in the MA in Statistics and MA in Applied Statistics degree?

The MA (Master of arts) in applied statistics is intended for people who want to be statisticians in industry or government, or individuals wanting a background in statistical methods for use in connection with a PhD in another subject.  The highlight of this degree is the course STAT 2381 involving consultation under the supervision of a faculty member. The MA in applied statistics requires completion of two graduate-level courses in another discipline or disciplines.  The MA in statistics is primarily an academic degree satisfied solely by course work in statistics. We also have the MS (Master of Science) option for both Statistics and Applied Statistics areas. MS requires the completion of a master's thesis. We do not directly admit students into the MS program. Students who are admitted into the MA program may request to switch to the MS program during their course of study if they find faculty members to direct their master's thesis.