Why Major in Statistics?

Statistics is the scientific discipline that deals with the collection, organization, analysis, display, and interpretation of numerical data. Statistical methods are widely used to design and analyze experiments, surveys, censuses, and other approaches to collecting information about the world. Statistical analyses include the effective summarizing of sets of data and the drawing of inferences from such data, as well as identification of the nature of observational errors and sources of variability that may obscure underlying patterns. Statisticians can help to decide whether information is reliable or conclusions drawn from it should be trusted. Statistical methods are used widely in many kinds of work, ranging from research in the biological, social, and physical sciences to applications in law, medicine, government decision-making, finance, accounting, engineering, and actuarial work.


The Department of Statistics provides an undergraduate program with a strong emphasis on the application of statistical methods. Faculty members have experience in applying statistics in medicine, public policy, large-scale surveys, social experiments, the law, accounting, finance, engineering, psychological and sociological research, and laboratory experiments.. In addition to a number of introductory and basic courses, the department provides undergraduates the opportunity to take more advanced courses that reflect the expertise of the faculty in areas such as sampling techniques, qualitative data, regression analysis, and experimental design. This background provides a strong preparation for future graduate study or employment.

 

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Sandy Zabell, zabell@math.northwestern.edu

Career Opportunities in Statistics

Well-trained statisticians are in strong demand and encounter excellent employment prospects. Statisticians work in commerce and industry, in government, and in universities and other research institutions. There are also some statisticians who maintain private consulting practices.


Statistical training is seen as quite desirable in several professions where the primary activity is not statistics. For example, many social scientists obtain a degree in statistics along the way to a social science doctorate; this provides the tools they will need to analyze the data they collect in their research. Similarly, a background in statistics helps medical researchers to design their projects, to describe and analyze their data, and to draw conclusions based on these data. Actuaries work in insurance companies and in other settings. They use statistical techniques to assess risks and predict outcomes; much of their work also involves specialized knowledge of law, accounting, medicine, and demography. Statistics can also provide good preparation for someone who aspires to an MBA degree and who has a quantitative orientation or an interest in market research.

  • Department of Statistics
  • 2006 Sheridan Rd, Evanston, IL 60208
  • (847) 491-3974
  • FAX: (847) 491-4939
  • stats@northwestern.edu