Online Ph.D. in Statistics

By Brandon Mario D`Souza

Updated January 14, 2024
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Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.

Degrees

Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

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The Ph.D. program in statistics provides students with a broad knowledge of theoretical statistics and probability, applied statistics, and other advanced topics. Students will pursue research in many areas within statistics and also explore those in related domains. One can also expect to collaborate with researchers, implement, compute, and formulate unique statistical methods and models. The online statistics Ph.D. consists of coursework, comprehensive examinations, research, and a dissertation. This doctoral degree aids students in advancing in the field of statistics into senior and more responsible roles. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, there are excellent professional opportunities for those pursuing advanced degrees like a Ph.D. in Statistics; it predicts a job growth of 31% for this field, which is much faster than the average for other occupations[1].

Statistics online

Find the Best Online Ph.D.
Statistics Programs

Finding a program that suits all one’s needs can be cumbersome. Prospective students must evaluate all the essential factors that make for a top degree program, like accreditation, curriculum, program outcomes, specializations, quality of the faculty, etc., before applying to a particular school. A good university education can significantly impact professional and personal choices and growth. FBD teams have evaluated numerous doctorates across the United States and compiled a list of the best online Ph.D. statistics programs using our unique ranking system. Here is the list:

With a focus on accessibility and flexibility, Penn LPS Online provides credit-bearing courses, certifications, and even bachelor’s degrees for adult learners. It gives pupils a useful springboard to advance their careers through intellectual growth and professional scholarship. Courses are created and instructed by Ivy League professors who are authorities in their fields of study and offer an immersive and high-touch learning experience.
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
University of Pennsylvania 34th & Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104 $38,732 96%

What to Expect from an Online Ph.D. in
Statistics Program

Ph.D. programs in statistics generally consist of a minimum of 30 to 36 credits. One can complete the program full-time or part-time and also online, on-campus, or in a hybrid mode that combines both. Aside from pursuing coursework, a qualifying and research proposal examination is typically required to be taken, which one must pass to continue the program. Students must prepare a dissertation and submit it for approval to the dissertation committee. Post-submission of the dissertation, they will be required to pass their final oral defense. A typical online Ph.D. in statistics program will consist of core statistics courses, additional electives, and minor requirements for specializing in areas like applied mathematics, computer science, ecology, or biostatistics.

Program Structure, Coursework,
and Dissertation

The Ph.D. statistics curriculum aims to provide balanced and comprehensive training to students in topics like computational statistics, theory of statistics, and statistical methods. Usually, emphasis is placed on training graduates to become skilled enough to recognize the value of statistical methods to find solutions to unique challenges. Doctoral students can expect a minimum of 30 to 36 credit hours of Ph.D.-level courses and a particular number of research hours to meet the minimum program requirements at most institutions. Generally, the Ph.D. can be divided into various components:

Coursework

The coursework consists of completing core courses that cover the areas of practice, statistical theory, methods, computing, and probability. All doctoral applicants must complete their necessary coursework before advancing to candidacy. In addition to the required courses, one can select additional classes per their interest.

Qualifying Examination

For a student to be qualified enough to start working on a Ph.D. dissertation, they are generally required to take up exams of probability, mathematical statistics, or applied statistics at the doctorate level. This requirement differs from institution to institution. The exam and course requirements will differ for those choosing a specific subject track, for example, mathematics.

Degree Plan

Colleges appoint a thesis advisor and advisory committee. The student and their advisory committee agree upon a proposed degree plan. The committee and the director of the Ph.D. program must approve this plan.

Preliminary Examination

Completing this examination is usually a mandatory requirement. It is primarily oral, with the format determined by the advisory committee, and differs from school to school.

Dissertation

After completing their coursework and the preliminary examination, time is devoted to the research topic under the advisor’s guidance. The result of the research is collected in a written dissertation that satisfies the guidelines the college establishes. Research should be original, contribute to the science of statistics, and derive new results in statistical methodology or theory or address challenges. 

Admittance to Candidacy

Before taking up the dissertation defense examination, one must be admitted to candidacy, and their cumulative degree GPA is expected to be 3.00 (typically) or higher. They must meet the requirements like coursework completion, passing the preliminary exam, submitting the approved dissertation, and assistantships (if necessary).

 Dissertation Defense

Dissertation is one of the critical requirements of the doctoral program. After writing the dissertation and submitting it to a select committee, one is required to defend it.

The program has rigorous classroom training in methodology, theory, and application of statistics and provides networking opportunities to work on advanced research topics. Some of the common research topics students have based their dissertations on include:

  • Bayesian Inference
  • Bioinformatics
  • Analysis of Observational Studies
  • Machine Learning
  • Model Selection
  • High Dimensional Inference
  • Time Series Analysis 
  • Nonparametric Function Estimation
  • Game Theory
  • Decision Theory

To know more about doctorate degrees, read the Guide to Ph.D. Programs

Learning Outcomes and
Skills Gained

Ph.D. holders will have experience in statistics, applied mathematics, biology, computer science, and other subjects and will likely land high-paying jobs. The doctorate program challenges students to take on various research opportunities and connect with experts in the field. It continuously expands their knowledge through teaching and research fellowship opportunities. Moreover, the curriculum covers many topics like probability theory, applied statistics, applied algebra, statistical genetics, and more. Apart from the theoretical knowledge, one also gains skills that can be used in one’s profession, including the ability to:

  • demonstrate in-depth knowledge in probability theory, statistical consulting, applied statistics, time series, and more;
  • frame problems using multimodal statistical or mathematical representations of relevant relationships and structures and solve problems using common techniques;
  • create quantitative form of models that can be used to solve pressing challenges of today in appropriate and diverse contexts;
  • effectively use technological tools at the professional level that can support the further study of statistics and mathematics;
  • use the theory of applied statistics, statistical methods in bioinformatics, and mathematical statistics, to solve real-world challenges;
  • formulate concise, complete, and legitimate proofs in mathematics or statistics; and
  • communicate the quantitative ideas found in results, both orally and in written formats in a way that any non-statistic audience can comprehend them.

Areas of Specialization for
Statistics Ph.D. Students

One can choose from many concentrations in a Ph.D. in statistics online degree. Specializing helps professionals gain in-depth knowledge in a sub-area of the discipline, which can lead to better careers and higher pay. Some common specialties in Ph.D. in statistics and data science online programs include:

Area of SpecializationDescriptionCareer Options
Data Science
This concentration helps discover trends and patterns in datasets and get insights from them. It also teaches how to create data models and forecast algorithms that improve data quality. 
Data Scientist
Decision AnalyticsIn this specialization, students use insights from data to identify and assess all aspects of decision-making and take further actions based on such decisions. It also gives students a fundamental understanding of artificial intelligence in real-world problems.Decision Analyst
Statistics and Applied MathematicsIn this specialization, students use various mathematics models and reasoning to solve practical problems that arise today. The concentration builds decision-making abilities of a scientific nature in many subjects like medicine, biological and physical sciences, social sciences, and engineering.Various roles in teaching, industry, research
Quantitative FinanceIn this specialization, students learn about various components of quantitative financial analysis, including understanding algorithms, differential equations, linear algebra, C++, probability theories, multi-variable calculus, and statistical analysis.Quantitative Finance Analyst
BioinformaticsThis specialization analyses various biological queries using statistical and computational techniques. These include identifying genetic-based disorders, desirable properties, unique adaptations, and differences between populations.Research scientist, biostatistician, bioinformatician, molecular biologist, microbiologist
Statistical Biology or BiostatisticsIn this specialization, students learn the important task of designing studies to understand various datasets and information collected in biology-related domains.Biostatistician
Financial MathematicsThis concentration uses financial mathematics and quantitative finances and studies relations between concepts of currency and financial markets.Various roles in portfolio management, risk management, quantitative research and analysis, data science and analytics, trading

Full-Time and Part-Time
Ph.D. Programs

The Ph.D. in statistics online program is provided in full-time and part-time formats. While a full-time program can be completed in about four years, part-time ones may require at least six years. Ultimately, the duration of the doctoral program will depend on the research topic and the time it takes to research and write the dissertation.

Accelerated Online
Ph.D. Statistics

Accelerated Ph.D.s can help students complete a doctorate in a shorter duration. Students may be required to take more classes in a shorter duration, making accelerated programs more strenuous. They can also fast-track their degrees by choosing an integrated M.S. and Ph.D. in statistics, reducing the time required to complete the degrees separately. The University of Arizona[2], Michigan Tech[3], and Oregon State University[4] provide accelerated Ph.D. in statistics programs.     

Requirements for Getting into an Online
Statistics Ph.D. Program

For admission into a Ph.D. program in statistics, one must meet the university’s requirements to be an eligible applicant. Students are generally expected to have an M.S. in statistics, mathematics, applied mathematics, biostatistics, or other advanced degrees in a domain that uses quantitative methods vastly, with an overall GPA of 3.0. It is also possible to enroll in a Ph.D. in statistics, provided one has a baccalaureate degree in the subject and meets certain program prerequisites. Some of the standard admission requirements for online Ph.D. statistics include:

  • Application form and fees
  • Official academic transcripts from universities and colleges previously attended
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (required by many universities)
  • At least three recommendation letters from a professional or academic source
  • A Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.3 or higher, preferably in the last 60 hours of coursework
  • A Statement of Purpose highlighting the interests, goals, and experience in the domain
  • A Graduate Résumé or Curriculum Vitae

No GRE Online
Ph.D. Statistics

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores aim to measure learners’ knowledge and skills and test their readiness for pursuing independent study in specific domains[5]. However, many colleges across the United States have waived the requirement for GRE scores for a specific academic year or under certain conditions. Examples of universities that offer Online Ph.D. statistics no gre are  Columbia University in the City of New York[6], and the University of Michigan[7]

How to Ensure an Online Statistics
Ph.D. Program is Accredited

Accreditation is a stamp of quality education. It signifies that a higher-learning institution has achieved and maintains high educational quality, a much-needed assurance for prospective students and potential employers. Generally, universities are accredited by one of six regional accrediting agencies, which are:

  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Aside from institutional accreditation, Ph.D. programs in statistics can be programmatically accredited by the Data Science Council of America or DASCA[8] or the American Statistical Association[9] . Students can check the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions[10] or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)[11] website for an institution’s accreditation status.

Read the Guide to College Accreditation to know more about accreditation and its importance. 

Where to Find Free Online Courses for
Statistics Ph.D. Students

Those pursuing a doctorate in statistics need to know the ins and outs of the subject thoroughly to explore various topics and help in their research. Free statistics courses can often provide in-depth knowledge about many aspects of statistics and assist with research or dissertation. Some examples include:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science[12]In this course, students learn to deploy and identify appropriate methodologies and models to extract information that can be meaningful for decision-making. They also understand unsupervised learning methods, clustering methods, and supervised procedures like deep neural networks.edX
Statistics Fundamentals[13]In this course, students learn about the tools needed to delete fakery in datasets and where statistics are deceptive. They also acquire the knowledge to analyze data sets and use statistics to investigate averages.Class Central
Data Analysis with R Specialization[14]In this course, students learn about analyzing and visualizing data. They are taught to perform hypothesis testing, interpret the results of stats, and report the analysis of such data to their clients. Students gain skills in statistical inferences, regression analysis, Rstudio, R programming, and statistical hypothesis testing.Coursera

Ways to Pay for an Online
Statistics Ph.D. Degree

An online doctorate in statistics may be cheaper than on-campus in-state or out-of-state programs, but they still cost tens of thousands of dollars. Most Ph.D. students are working professionals who pay for their own education. Due to family, professional, medical, and lifestyle demands, this may not always be achievable; thus, considering alternative funding possibilities may be advisable. Here are some financial assistance options to consider:

Scholarships

Most students looking for financial aid seek scholarships. Individual contributors, private groups, alumnae associations, cultural organizations, religious outfits, and commercial organizations provide scholarships for which an applicant’s academic performance and achievements are considered.

Grants

Students who are academically gifted but come from low-income families are more likely to receive grants than their peers. Grants, as opposed to scholarships, are based on need rather than merit and are frequently provided based on the family’s financial situation.

Fellowships

Ph.D. Fellowships (sometimes called Predoctoral Fellowships) are cash awards for doctoral students. Most Ph.D. fellowships are provided for specific causes or require students to complete a future assignment. Fellowships are awarded for exceptional performance and to attract and retain top students. Departments, colleges, individuals, government agencies, and corporations award fellowships.

Graduate Assistantships

Students who desire to assist professors with instructional activity, work in a lab or workshop, or lecture and demonstrate for graduates and undergraduates can get a teaching or research assistantship. For the services rendered, they get a fee waiver or compensation.

Employer Sponsorship

Many firms allow their employees to continue their education at work. If a student’s firm finances Ph.D. studies, they should ask about the terms and circumstances for funding. Employers usually ask for long-term employment commitments in exchange for sponsorship or tuition reimbursement.

Student Loans

Doctoral students and working professionals pursuing a Ph.D. may borrow money from credit unions, banks, or private lenders, against interest payments. Loans not repaid on time will incur additional interest and penalties, increasing student debt. To prevent such a situation, borrowers can look for donors or grants to help them repay their loans.

FAFSA

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form students can fill out and submit to check their eligibility for federal financial aid. 

Fully Funded Online Ph.D.
Statistics Programs

A fully funded Ph.D. is a financed doctoral program for full-time students and includes an annual stipend, full tuition remission, and health benefits. Prospective and select students may receive full funding with an expectation that they will complete their research in a particular discipline or subject and even teach in some cases. Here are a few examples of fully funded statistics Ph.D. programs:

UniversityDescription
Columbia University in the City of New York[15]All those accepted into the Ph.D. degree receive a financial funding package for up to five years. This funding includes fees, tuition, financing for laptops, travel expenses up to $750, and a stipend. Graduate fellowship, including research and teaching apprenticeship, is offered to students.
The Ohio State University[16]Students are funded through Graduate Teaching Associateship (TA or GTA, and Graduate Research Associateship (RA or GRA). Those receiving university fellowship or graduate enrichment fellowship get tuition remission, a monthly stipend of a minimum of $2,347, and an 85% subsidy for health insurance.
University of Texas at Austin Fully Funded Ph.D. in Statistics[17]The university provides full financial support for up to five years, including assistantships with research or teaching duties. Generally, students receive academic employment as teaching assistants, graduate research assistants, and assistant instructors.

Career Opportunities and Salaries
After Graduating

The top industries in which statisticians can typically include research and development are engineering, life sciences, and manufacturing industries; federal government; healthcare and social assistance; colleges, professional schools, and universities; insurance carriers and related activities; and more. Those who have completed an online Ph.D. statistics can pursue diverse careers in senior and responsible roles in industry or academia. Because statistics is used in almost all sectors, the roles and job titles may vary and include occupations such as: 

Occupation Job Description Skills RequiredMedian Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2031)
Actuaries[18]Actuaries calculate cash reserves needed and based on existing liabilities and policies. They explain proposals and findings to company government officials, executives, clients, and shareholders. They also use modeling and statistical software to help forecast and assess the probability of events occurring. Analytical skills, communication skills, computer skills, interpersonal skills, math skills, problem-solving skills$105,90021% (much faster than average)
Computer Programmers[19]Computer Programmers write, modify, test, and debug scripts in software that can simplify development. They usually work closely with software developers and use code libraries to streamline their writing and improve efficiency. They also create and make use of code libraries.Analytical skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills, detail-oriented$93,000-10% (decline)
Statisticians[20]Statisticians solve problems and design questionnaires, surveys, opinion polls, and experiments to collect various data needed. They also identify relationships and trends within data. They are trained to conduct tests that determine data’s validity and account for possible errors.Analytical skills, math skills, communication skills, logical thinking skills, problem-solving skills$96,28031% (much faster than average)
Economists[21]Economists apply qualitative and quantitative economic analyses to topics in various fields, including health, development, environment, and education. They forecast and interpret market trends and advise governments, individuals, and businesses on economic topics.Analytical skills, speaking skills, critical-thinking skills, writing skills$105,6306% (as fast as average)
Financial Analysts[22]Financial analysts evaluate several opportunities to put money towards the purpose of generating profit. They are two types, sell-side analysts and buy-side analysts, and they work for research organizations or businesses independent from the sell and buy sides.Analytical skills, math skills, detail-oriented, computer skills, communication skills, decision-making skills$95,5709% (faster than average)
Survey Researchers[23]Survey researchers create and conduct surveys for many research purposes. They also conduct scientific research in health, government, education, and social sciences and create surveys to understand public opinions that can help gather information about specific groups’ attitudes.Analytical skills, communication skills, critical-thinking skills, problem-solving skills, detail-oriented$59,7406% (as fast as average)

Certifications and Licensing for Online Ph.D.
Students in Statistics

Professional certifications, state registration, and licenses are not necessary to be a professional statistician. However, certifications increase a professional’s credibility by showing they have focused training for a specific domain, enabling them to demonstrate expert competence. Those pursuing an online Ph.D. statistics will find that only a few organizations provide certifications directly related to statistics. For example, the American Statistical Association (ASA) provides two certifications, which are PStat® Certification[24] and SAS Certified Statistical Business Analyst Using SAS 9[25]. These certifications testify that knowledge is acquired through work experience, ongoing professional development, and formal educational activities.

Since doctoral students will have an advanced understanding of statistics, they can check other certifications provided by SAS; they provide many related to data science, analysis, and related fields[26].  Apart from these, the Institute for Statistics Education[27] provides programs leading to certification.

Additional Resources for Ph.D.
Students in Statistics Degree

Ph.D. students must conduct extensive research and study to gain a deeper understanding of statistics. Networking with like-minded people, professors, professionals, and peers will go a long way toward assisting Ph.D. statistics online students with their thesis or dissertation preparation and future occupations. Individuals can broaden their knowledge and research abilities through the various resources professional organizations offer. To that end, they may find the following resources especially helpful:

Title/Resource Description
American Statistical Association[28]The American Statistical Association promotes advanced research, public policy, human welfare, and ethical practices. Members of this organization enjoy connections with the broader community of statisticians and get access to many career opportunities. The organization promotes professional development and organizes ASA-sponsored meetings.
International Statistical Institute[29]The International Statistical Institute aims to obtain and administer support for members from developing countries. One of their unique features is the development of statistical capacity-building programs they deliver in partnership with other stakeholders. They boost the careers of young statisticians by organizing many kinds of activities.
Institute of Mathematical Statistics[30]The Institute of Mathematical Statistics is one of the unique international organizations representing many interests in statistical research and generally provides free membership to students. They also offer many awards, fellowships, special lectures, international statistics prizes, and more.
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences[31]The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences includes members from over 90 countries worldwide who teach operations research, analytics, quantitative sciences, management sciences, and more. They publish many public journals, among which the flagship is Operations Research and Management Science and INFORMS Transactions on Education.
International Association for Statistical Computing[32]The International Association for Statistical Computing offers membership to anyone interested in promoting the methods, theory, and practice of statistical computing. They provide job offers from public organizations, private companies, and academic institutions. Along with conferences and seminars, they also conduct many annual events.

FAQs About Online Ph.D.
Statistics Programs

Why should you do an online statistics Ph.D. program?

Students may find that Ph.D. in Statistics programs are rarely offered as a completely online degree; it is usually delivered in a hybrid format that combines online and on-campus classes. Most schools offer the degree in a completely brick-and-mortar, on-campus format. Still, getting an online doctorate in statistics may be preferred by many students, as it saves time and allows them to work and study simultaneously.

Is an online doctorate credible?

Why should I get a doctorate in statistics?

 Is statistics a lucrative career option?

Is it difficult to get into a Ph.D. in statistics program?

Is a prior degree in statistics necessary for getting a Ph.D. in statistics?

Author Bio:

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.

Degrees

Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

Disclaimer:

The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.