skip to content

Bulletin Archive

This archived information is dated to the 2008-09 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Doctor of Philosophy in Statistics

The department looks for students who wish to prepare for research careers in statistics or probability, either applied or theoretical. Advanced undergraduate or master's level work in mathematics and statistics provides a good background for the doctoral program. Quantitatively oriented students with degrees in other scientific fields are also encouraged to apply for admission. In particular, the department is expanding its research and educational activities towards computational biology, mathematical finance and information science, via a VIGRE program. The program normally takes four years to complete.

Program Summary—STATS 300A,B,C, 305, 306A,B, and 310A,B,C (first-year core program); pass two of three parts of the qualifying examinations (beginning of second year); breadth requirement (second or third year); University oral examination (end of third year or beginning of fourth year); dissertation (fourth year).

In addition, students are required to take 9 units of advanced topics courses offered by the department (including at least two of the following: 314, 317, 318, 315A, or 315B, but not including literature, research, or consulting), and 3 units of statistical consulting. All students who have passed the qualifying exam but have not yet passed the University oral examination must take 319 at least once per year.

First-Year Core Courses—STATS 300 systematically surveys the ideas of estimation and of hypothesis testing for parametric and nonparametric models involving small and large samples. 305 is concerned with linear regression and the analysis of variance. 306 surveys a large number of modeling techniques, related to but going beyond the linear models of 305. 310 is a measure-theoretic course in probability theory, beginning with basic concepts of the law of large numbers and martingale theory. Students who do not have enough mathematics background can take 310 after their first year but need to have their first-year program approved by the Ph.D. program adviser.

Qualifying Examinations—These are intended to test the student's level of knowledge when the first-year program, common to all students, has been completed. There are separate examinations in the three core subjects of statistical theory and methods, applied statistics, and probability theory, and all are typically taken during the summer between the student's first and second years. Students may take two or three of these examinations and are expected to show acceptable performance in two examinations.

Breadth Requirement—Students are advised to choose an area of concentration in a specific scientific field of statistical applications; this can be realized by taking at least 15 units of course work approved by the Ph.D. program adviser.

Current areas with suggested course options include:

Computational Biology and Statistical Genomics—Students are expected to take 9 units of graduate courses in genetics or neurosciences (imaging), such as GENE 203/BIO 203, as well as 9 units of classes in Statistical Genetics or Bioinformatics, GENE 344A,B, STATS 345, STATS 366, STATS 367.

Machine Learning—Courses can be chosen from the following list:

Statistical Learning: STATS 315A and 315B

Data Bases: CS 245, 346, 347

Probabilistic Methods in AI: CS 221, 354

Statistical Learning Theory and Pattern Classification: CS 229

Applied Probability—Students are expected to take 15 units of graduate courses in some of the following areas:

Control and Stochastic Calculus: MS&E 322, 351, MATH 237, EE 363

Finance: STATS 250, FINANCE 622, MATH 236

Information Theory: EE 376A, 376B

Monte Carlo: STATS 318, 345, 362, MS&E 323

Queuing Theory: GSB 661, 663, MS&E 335

Stochastic Processes: STATS 317, MATH 234

Earth Science Statistics—Students are expected to take:

STATS 317, 318, 352

and three courses from the GES or Geophysics departments, such as GES 144 or GEOPHYS 210.

Social and Behavioral Sciences—Students are expected to take three advanced courses from the department with an applied orientation such as:

STATS 261/262, 324, 343, 354

and three advanced quantitative courses from departments such as Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology, and the schools of Education, Business, or Medicine.

University Oral Examination—The University oral examination is taken on the recommendation of the student's research adviser after the thesis problem has been well defined and some research progress has been made. Usually, this happens early in the student's fourth year. The oral examination consists of a 40-minute presentation on the thesis topic, followed by two question periods. The first question period relates directly to the student's presentation; the second is intended to explore the student's familiarity with broader statistical topics related to the thesis research.

Financial Support—Students accepted to the Ph.D. program are offered financial support. All tuition expenses are paid and there is a fixed monthly stipend determined to be sufficient to pay living expenses. Financial support can be continued for five years, department resources permitting, for students in good standing. The resources for student financial support derive from funds made available for student teaching and research assistantships. Students receive both a teaching and research assignment each quarter which, together, do not exceed 20 hours. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for outside scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of financial support.

© Stanford University - Office of the Registrar. Archive of the Stanford Bulletin 2008-09. Terms of Use | Copyright Complaints