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    Statistics Major Overview

    By Lisa Freedland

    Lisa Freedland is a Scholarships360 writer with personal experience in psychological research and content writing. She has written content for an online fact-checking organization and has conducted research at the University of Southern California as well as the University of California, Irvine. Lisa graduated from the University of Southern California in Fall 2021 with a degree in Psychology.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: May 13th, 2024
    Statistics Major Overview

    For years, data has been growing in its amount, availability, and importance. So, now more than ever, companies and organizations across all fields are looking for people who can collect, analyze, and interpret data to detect meaningful patterns and reach conclusions. Those well-versed in statistics learn just how to do that (and more). If this sounds interesting to you, keep on reading to learn all about the statistics major!

    Also see: Top mathematics scholarships

    What is a statistics major?

    Statistics majors cover all the basics of working with data, including how to gather, analyze, and draw conclusions from it. And, as data is used in such a wide range of fields, statistics majors are not limited to working in a specific industry or setting. Instead, the field of statistics can help them explore their other interests in business, government, finance, or nearly anything else you can think of. Trust us – nearly all fields need people who can analyze their data. It’s a huge part of many industries – and allows companies and organizations to learn how they can improve or better serve their consumers.

    Statistics majors who are particularly passionate in mathematics and plan on attending graduate school can choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Statistics. On the other hand, those who are more interested in the practical applications of statistics may be more inclined towards a Bachelor of Arts degree. As for the differences in coursework between the two, Bachelor of Science in Statistics degrees will be slightly more math-heavy than their Bachelor of Arts counterparts. On the topic of coursework, however, what types of classes can statistics majors expect to take in college? Let’s see.

    Coursework to expect

    In addition to many statistics courses themselves, statistics majors can expect to take a wide range of other mathematics courses. These may include calculus, linear algebra, or even probability theory. Further, statistics majors should understand how these topics relate to statistics. Luckily, however, students may be able to place out (i.e. not be required to take these in college as they’ve already received credit for them) of some of these classes if they’ve passed the equivalent AP or IB exams with sufficient scores (which will vary based on college).

    In terms of their actual statistics courses, statistics majors will have many options to choose from. These courses may include statistical methods, regression analysis, statistical theory, and more. Schools may also require statistics students to take a technical writing course to help them more easily communicate complex statistical ideas and terminology to a wider audience. Through all these courses (and more), statistics majors will become familiar with the concepts of probability, data analysis, and the theory of statistics. And, to apply their understanding of statistics elsewhere, many statistics majors also major or minor in another field where their statistics skills can be put to use.

    Also see: What is a STEM degree? (And why you should study one)

    Below are some potential courses you may encounter as a statistics major:

    • Research Design
    • Research Methods
    • Statistics
    • Statistical computing
    • Computer Applications
    • Calculus
    • Linear Algebra
    • Education
    • Probability theory
    • Applied time series analysis
    • Regression analysis
    • Sample survey theory
    • Statistical methods
    • Statistical theory
    • Technical writing

    Opportunities after graduation

    While the specifics of one’s job will certainly depend on the exact industry and field they’re in, some particularly common careers for statistics majors include data or risk analysts, market researchers, and actuaries. However, all these roles can be fulfilled in a wide variety of settings, from the government, to health care, to business, and even sports! So, if you’re a statistics major, it may be of interest to you to look for statistics-related roles in other fields you’re passionate about, and enjoy the best of both worlds. Alternatively, many statistics majors decide to pursue further schooling after receiving their undergraduate degree, but we’ll get into that later. For now, let’s take a look at some of the actual jobs you can receive with a statistics degree!

    Related: Top STEM scholarships

    Jobs you can get with a statistics degree

    Luckily for you, we’ve gone through and created a list of potential jobs that you can pursue with a statistics degree (with descriptions and salaries included)! Let’s get into it.

    1. Statisticians

    Statisticians use mathematical theories and techniques to help solve problems in many fields, including business, the sciences, engineering, and more. They also design studies, surveys, and polls to collect data, which they then analyze to communicate their findings to audiences. They create visual representations of these data and findings, which are shown to businesses to aid them in making decisions. While most statisticians have a master’s degree in mathematics or statistics, some positions are open to those who only have a bachelor’s degree.

    2023 Median Pay: $104,860 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): 30% (Much faster than average)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

    2. Operations Research Analysts

    Operations Research Analysts use their research and mathematical skills in order to help organizations and companies make better decisions. To do so, they gather information from a wide variety of sources, including customer feedback, sales, and computer databases. Then, they use statistical analysis, simulations, graphs, predictive modeling, and other forms of visual data in order to create solutions for companies’ problems. Operations Research Analysts are certainly not limited to one field, with many working in the logistics, business, healthcare, and other industries. A bachelor’s degree is generally required to become an Operations Research Analyst, but some employers may prefer to hire those with a Master’s.

    2023 Median Pay: $83,640 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): 23% (Much faster than average)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

    3. Actuaries

    Using statistics, financial theory, and more, actuaries determine the financial “risks” of different events and decisions. They then put this information into charts, graphs, and other data visualization tools to be shown to companies and clients. Actuaries will then help such businesses and clients create policies that lower the costs of such risks. One typically needs to hold a bachelor’s degree and pass specific actuarial exams in order to become a certified, professional actuary. And, as some universities offer actuarial tracks to statistics majors, we would highly recommend looking into whether your college has such a program if you’re interested in the profession. If you’re confident about becoming an actuary, but aren’t yet in college, it may help to search for what colleges do offer an actuarial track before you start applying.

    2023 Median Pay: $120,000 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): 23% (Much faster than average)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

    4. Financial Analyst

    As suggested by the name, financial analysts study and analyze current and historical business, economic, and financial trends and data in order to help businesses and individuals make smart financial decisions and make a profit. To help such people make these choices, they create written reports, graphs, and other visual representations of data to show how different financial decisions may pan out. The majority of financial analysts have a bachelor’s degree before going into the profession.

    2023 Median Pay: $99,890 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): 8% (Faster than average)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

    Advanced degrees you can pursue with a statistics degree

    After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in statistics, many students decide to pursue further graduate or professional schooling. While graduate degrees and Ph.D’s are some of the most popular options for statistics majors, here are just a few of the advanced degrees you can pursue with a statistics degree:

    • Statistics: Master’s or Ph.D 
    • Biostatistics: Master’s or Ph.D
    • Computer Science: Master’s or Ph.D

    How do I know if a major is right for me? 

    Knowing whether or not you’re majoring in the right subject is tricky. Even after being in college for multiple semesters or years, it is not uncommon for students to wonder whether they truly enjoy their major. However, many students also love their majors, and end up sticking with the same one for their entire college experience. So, if you’re thinking about majoring in statistics, ask yourself these questions first:

    • Are you curious about data collection and analysis?
    • Do you enjoy “crunching the numbers”?
    • Are you passionate about applying logic and identifying patterns?
    • Do you consider yourself a skilled mathematician?

    If you answered “yes” to a majority of these questions, then statistics may be a great fit for you. With that, we wish you good luck. Have fun in college!

    Also see: How to choose a major and Scholarships360 major guides

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    Frequently asked questions about statistics majors

    Is a master’s in statistics worth it?

    The answer to this question depends on what specific job you hope to earn after graduation. If you want to become a statistician, for example, it may benefit you to earn a master’s degree. This is because most in the profession hold a master’s. However, if your ideal job mostly hires those with only a bachelor’s, you may not necessarily feel or have a need to pursue a master’s. However, it’s good to note that a master’s in statistics will certainly teach you more skills within the field than a bachelor’s, teach you about leading others, and will open up more job opportunities than you would have while only holding a bachelor’s.
     

    Which is a harder major--math or statistics?

    The answer depends on the particular student and their strengths. However, due to the more interpretive nature of statistics, it is often thought of as more challenging. 

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