Statistics PhD

Statistics has been described as the science of learning from data. Statisticians are involved with collecting data, analyzing it, interpreting it and helping to make decisions based on it. Graduates of the Doctor of Philosophy program in statistics will use advanced statistical methods, and also develop new methods to meet the fast growing need for analyses of data arising in many areas.

The Statistics PhD program at Arizona State University is interdisciplinary in that it draws upon faculty research and teaching interests from various academic units so that plans of study can be tailored to reflect individual needs and goals. Participating faculty are from units that include the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the W.P. Carey School of Business and the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

Our faculty members conduct research in various statistical areas, including Bayesian statistics, causal inference and missing data, computational statistics, design of experiments, high-dimensional data, machine learning, mixed models, and statistical methods in education.

Data is everywhere, which makes that statisticians are in high demand. With a PhD in statistics, there are ample opportunities for research positions in academia, industry, and government. In academia, entry level positions would typically be as lecturer, postdoctoral associate, research assistant professor, or tenure track assistant professor, and could be in statistics, biostatistics, mathematical sciences, bioinformatics, or a field of application. In industry, statisticians are competitive for data science positions (e.g. at Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon), but also for research positions in the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare industry, financial industry, and so on. In government, large numbers of statisticians work at multiple federal agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration, the US Census Bureau, the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, among others.

The statistics program is part of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, which has more than 50 full-time faculty members and 13 postdoctoral faculty and is housed largely in Charles Wexler Hall, near the center of campus. Of the approximately 150 doctoral students, more than half are fully supported as teaching or research assistants. Our graduate students enjoy a collaborative atmosphere and a full schedule of research seminars and colloquiums each week. About 40% of our PhD students are women, and we support an active chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM), as well as the Graduate Statistics Club, and a student chapter of American Mathematics Society (AMS). The school hosts an annual Math and Stats Career Day and graduate students explore multiple career paths locally and nationally in business, industry, government and academia.

5 years to degree
> 70 TAs
50 full-time facullty

Degree Overview

As a science, statistics focuses on data collection and data analysis by developing, studying, and using theoretical, applied and computational tools. The PhD program in statistics reflects this breadth in tools and considerations while allowing students sufficient flexibility to tailor their program of study to reflect individual interests and goals. Research can be of a disciplinary or transdisciplinary nature.

The 84-credit program includes core courses, a written qualifier exam, and written and oral components of a comprehensive exam, a prospectus, and a dissertation.

How to apply

The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences offers about 20 new teaching assistantships each year.

PhD application deadline is July 1, if you are applying for admission only and are not competing for TA support.

PhD application deadline is December 10, if you want to compete for a teaching assistant position.

Applications are accepted for fall admission only. We do not accept applications for spring admission. The graduate review committee will begin reviewing completed applications for admission and teaching assistantship positions after December 10 for fall admission. The first round of offers for TA support will be made by late January.

Applications still considered incomplete by the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences after July 1 will likely not be evaluated by the graduate review committee in time to be considered for admission for that current year. International applicants may want to allow an additional 4-6 weeks for I-20 and visa processing and should pay careful attention to the I-20/DS-2019 important deadlines.

See Graduate Admissions for additional information on non-refundable application fees and the late processing fee.

Application Evaluation

Each applicant is evaluated not only on their GRE scores and grades, but also on their personal statement and letters of recommendation. Only completed applications submitted through the on-line process will be reviewed.

We receive many inquiries asking for a pre-evaluation to see if an applicant would be eligible to apply or make suggestions on their credentials. Unfortunately we are not able to review any application information sent to us.

More specifics can be found on the How To Apply page.

Kyle IrimataThe school offers many opportunities to learn from faculty of various backgrounds and specialties and provides a rich environment to develop as a researcher.

Kyle Irimata
2018 PhD Statistics
Arizona State University


The curriculum builds a strong foundation in statistics and allows the flexibility of interdisciplinary learning and research. The program further encourages interdisciplinary activity by offering students the opportunity to choose dissertation advisors from outside the school. Current members of the graduate faculty in statistics come from the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences; computing, informatics, and decision systems engineering; industrial engineering; biomedical informatics; biostatistics; economics; supply chain management; information systems in business; climate modeling and human-environment interactions in geography; and biophysics in physics.

Requirements and electivesHours
Core courses15
Electives and Exams12-45
Total hours required84

Courses and electives

Students in the PhD Statistics program must pass:

  • one qualifying examination and coursework in analysis and stochastic processes
  • written and oral components of a comprehensive exam
  • written and oral components of a dissertation prospectus
  • dissertation defense

STP 501 Theory of Statistics I - Distribution Theory (3)
STP 502 Theory of Statistics II - Inference (3)
STP 526 Theory of Statistical Linear Models (3)
STP 527 Statistical Large Sample Theory (3) or STP 530 Applied Regression Analysis (3) or IEE 578 Regression Analysis (3)
STP 531 Applied Analysis of Variance (3) or IEE 572 Design Engineering Experiments (3)

Years 1 and 2 – Students should take STP 501 Theory of Statistics I, STP 502 Theory of Statistics II, and successfully complete coursework in real analysis and stochastic processes (listed as MAT 570 or APM 503 and MAT 571 or APM 504) with a grade of B or better on both courses by the end of semester 4. Students must select a dissertation advisor by the end of the third semester and, in consultation with the advisor, submit a plan of study (iPOS) by the end of semester three.

Years 3 and 4 – Students must continue to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. Students should start preparing for a Comprehensive  Exam during the fourth semester in the program, and complete it  during their fifth semester. The exam consists of a written and oral part. Details can be found in the student handbook.

The dissertation prospectus exam must be completed by the end of semester 8.

Electives are to be chosen from statistics or related area courses approved by the student's supervisory committee

One of the essential components to a PhD in statistics is your thesis.

Thesis – an original piece of research written by the student under the guidance of a thesis advisor and the thesis committee. Before starting the thesis, the student must pass an oral exam based on a written dissertation prospectus, which covers background material in the general area of the thesis work. After the thesis is written, the student must pass an oral defense of the thesis.

STP 792 Research (12)

Year 5 – The dissertation should be written and successfully defended by the end of Year 5. Each dissertation will be reviewed by an external reviewer (reviewer must be approved by graduate director in advance). Students are highly encouraged to present their research at ASU seminars and relevant research conferences.

STP 799 Dissertation (12)

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