Field of Study: Statistics
Statistics programs teach people how to study data and make decisions. Students learn how to collect and analyze data. They learn how to take samples. They also learn about probability, regression, and standard deviation.
Probably one of the most frequently asked questions is, "What's the weather going to be like tomorrow?" Some of us watch the nightly news as much for the weather forecast as for the news! Often, TV meteorologists state, "On Wednesday there will be a 70 percent chance of rain." It's also typical for them to compare that day's high temperature with the average temperature for the time of year. (This way, you know it's out of the ordinary when it's 80 degrees in March and the normal temperature is 58.)
These kinds of facts reflect the use of statistics in daily life. Statisticians use math and data to determine the likelihood that something might happen. This helps people – from scientists to everyday folk – make good decisions. (For example, with a 70 percent chance of rain, it'd be a good idea to wear a raincoat.) Statisticians also study the results of experiments. For instance, statistics help drug researchers determine the success rate of a new cancer medication.
A degree in statistics can be applied to a variety of careers. You can work in market research, banking, or insurance. You can also work for a nonprofit group as a policy analyst. Or, you can use your knowledge of statistics to work in the health care field.
In statistics programs, you take many math and statistics courses. You study different kinds of statistical analysis, including regression and probability. You also learn how to create experiments and surveys. In addition, most programs encourage you to take computer science courses. This is because most statistical work is done using sophisticated software.
Many four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in statistics. In many cases, you major in math with a concentration in statistics. In addition, several community colleges offer two-year math programs that can be transferred to a four-year school.
Many schools offer graduate degree programs in statistics. These programs take from two to five years after you finish your bachelor's degree. Most people who get graduate degrees in statistics become professors and research analysts.