Ph.D. Program

The PhD program prepares students for research careers in theory and application of probability and statistics in academic and non-academic (e.g., industry, government) settings.  Students might elect to pursue either the general Statistics track of the program (the default), or one of the four specialized tracks that take advantage of UW’s interdisciplinary environment: Statistical Genetics (StatGen), Statistics in the Social Sciences (CSSS), Machine Learning and Big Data (MLBD), and Advanced Data Science (ADS). 

Admission Requirements

The Department of Statistics at the University of Washington is committed to providing a world-class education in statistics. As such, having some mathematical background is necessary to complete our core courses. This background includes linear algebra at the level of UW’s MATH 318 or 340, advanced calculus at the level of MATH 327 and 328, and introductory probability at the level of MATH 394 and 395. Real analysis at the level of UW’s MATH 424, 425, and 426 is also helpful, though not required. Descriptions of these courses can be found in the UW Course Catalog. We also recognize that some exceptional candidates will lack the needed mathematical background but succeed in our program. Admission for such applicants will involve a collaborative curriculum design process with the Graduate Program Coordinator to allow them to make up the necessary courses. 

While not a requirement, prior background in computing and data analysis is advantageous for admission to our program. In particular, programming experience at the level of UW’s CSE 142 is expected.  Additionally, our coursework assumes familiarity with a high-level programming language such as R or Python. 

Graduation Requirements 

This is a summary of the department-specific graduation requirements. For additional details on the department-specific requirements, please consult the Ph.D. Student Handbook. In addition, please see also the University-wide requirements at Instructions, Policies & Procedures for Graduate Students and UW Doctoral Degrees.  

General Statistics Track

  1. Core courses: Advanced statistical theory (STAT 581, STAT 582 and STAT 583), statistical methodology (STAT 570 and STAT 571), statistical computing (STAT 534), and measure theory (either STAT 559 or MATH 574-575-576).  
  2. Elective courses: A minimum of four approved 500-level classes that form a coherent set, as approved in writing by the Graduate Program Coordinator 
  3. M.S. Theory Exam: The syllabus of the exam is available here.
  4. Research Prelim Exam. Requires enrollment in STAT 572. 
  5. Consulting.  Requires enrollment in STAT 599. 
  6. Applied Data Analysis Project.  Requires enrollment in 3 credits of STAT 600. 
  7. Statistics seminar participation: Students must attend the Statistics Department seminar and enroll in STAT 590 for at least 8 quarters. 
  8. Teaching requirement: All Ph.D. students must satisfactorily serve as a Teaching Assistant for at least one quarter. 
  9. General Exam. 
  10. Dissertation Credits.  A minimum of 27 credits of STAT 800, spread over at least three quarters. 
  11. Passage of the Dissertation Defense. 

Statistical Genetics (StatGen) Track

Students pursuing the Statistical Genetics (StatGen) Ph.D. track are required to take BIOST/STAT 550 and BIOST/STAT 551, GENOME 562 and GENOME 540 or GENOME 541. These courses may be counted as the four required Ph.D.-level electives. Additionally, students are expected to participate in the Statistical Genetics Seminar (BIOST581) in addition to participating in the statistics seminar (STAT 590). Finally, students in the Statistics Statistical Genetics Ph.D. pathway may take STAT 516-517 instead of STAT 570-571 for their Statistical Methodology core requirement. This is a transcriptable program option, i.e., the fact that the student completed the requirements will be noted in their transcript.

Statistics in the Social Sciences (CSSS) Track

Students in the Statistics in the Social Sciences (CSSS) Ph.D. track are required to take 2 CSSS/STAT courses among the following list: STAT 519, CS&SS/BIOST/STAT 529, CS&SS/SOC/STAT 536, CS&SS/SOC/STAT 560, CS&SS/STAT 564, CS&SS/SOC 565, CS&SS/STAT 566, CS&SS/STAT 567, plus 3 graded courses in one of two social areas of their choice: either Statistical Demography (SOC/CSDE 513, SOC 531, SOC/CS&SS/CSDE 533) or Econometrics (ECON 583, ECON 584, ECON 585). These courses may be counted as the four required Ph.D.-level electives. Additionally, students must complete at least three consecutive quarters of participation (one credit per quarter) in the CS&SS seminar (CSSS 590). This is not a transcriptable option, i.e., the fact that the student completed the requirements will not be noted in their transcript.

Machine Learning and Big Data Track

Students in the Machine Learning and Big Data (MLBD) Ph.D. track are required to take the following courses: one foundational machine learning course (STAT 535), one advanced machine learning course (either STAT 538 or STAT 548 / CSE 547), one breadth course (either on databases, CSE 544, or data visualization, CSE 512), and one additional elective course (STAT 538, STAT 548, CSE 515, CSE 512, CSE 544 or EE 578). At most two of these four courses may be counted as part of the four required PhD-level electives. Students pursuing this track are not required to take STAT 583 and can use STAT 571 to satisfy the Applied Data Analysis Project requirement. This is not a transcriptable option, i.e., the fact that the student completed the requirements will not be noted in their transcript. 

Advanced Data Science (ADS) Track

Students in the Advanced Data Science (ADS) Ph.D. track are required to take the same coursework as students in the Machine Learning and Big Data track. They are also not required to take STAT 583 and can use STAT 571 to satisfy the Applied Data Analysis Project requirement. The only difference in terms of requirements between the MLBD and the ADS tracks is that students in the ADS track must also register for at least 4 quarters of the weekly eScience Community Seminar (CHEM E 599). Also, unlike the MLBD track, the ADS is a transcriptable program option, i.e., the fact that the student completed the requirements will be noted in their transcript.