There are two different options with distinct course requirements and research emphasis:
GoalsStudents completing the M.Sc. program will be well-equipped to take on positions as statisticians in government or industry or to continue in a Ph.D. program in statistics. Students will have developed the following skills.
- communication skills: e.g., explaining or reporting statistical results to non-statisticians, such as managers;
- broad base of knowledge of modern statistical methods, including computing; ability to choose appropriate analyses when presented with a real problem and to understand the implications of these analyses (assumptions, shortcomings, interpretation of results);
- ability to learn after finishing the degree: i.e., to learn new statistical techniques from textbooks and journal articles, modifying the techniques, if necessary.
Students develop these skills through a variety of activities. Courses typically combine traditional lecture-based learning with independent learning, where students read relevant journal articles, download software from the web, analyze difficult data sets, and present and discuss their findings with their classmates. New statistical problems and approaches are discussed in the weekly Departmental Workshop (a research-level seminar) and in the research seminars and journal discussions of the Biostatistical Research Group. Many applied consulting problems are discussed in the Statistics 551 consulting practicum. Many students serve as research assistants, often working directly with researchers in other areas such as medicine. Students also develop the above skills while working on their M.Sc. theses or projects.
- The MSc degree can be completed in two to four terms of courses (or 12 to 20 months).
- To complete in the minimal time of two terms and 12 months, some of the courses in the mandatory sequence would have been taken as undergraduates, and 4 courses are taken in each of two terms, and a thesis is written.
- A more common scenario is four terms and 20 months, with a project that starts in May of the first year.
- The co-op option has two work terms, and there are three terms of courses, and the thesis or project is optional.
The total number of credits is 30, of which 3 credits could be for a project (or 6 credits for a thesis). At least 24 credits must be in courses numbered 500 and above. Students are expected to register for a minimum of 18 credits in their first year, and a minimum of 12 credits in their second year. The Department requires that students maintain an average of at least 75% in order to stay in the program.
In addition to these formal requirements, it is desirable that students are expected to develop proficiency in the use of statistical computing software (S-PLUS/R, SAS, etc.).
To broaden their knowledge and experience in the discipline, students are expected to take advantage of other opportunities provided by departmental activities, such as the statistics and biostatistics seminars, and other presentations.
Courses Required for the MSc in Statistics
There are 4 key mandatory sequence of courses; most students would have some of these in their undergraduate program. Other courses are taken for breadth.
- mathematical statistics sequence: Stat 560 and Stat 561
- advanced probability and stochastic process: an advanced probability course recommended by the program advisor.
- design of experiments/ analysis of variance: Stat 404, not required as of Sept 2006, but is suggested co-requisite/prerequisite for Stat 550.
- applied statistics sequence: at least 3 credits from the applied Statistics courses: Stat 527, 538, 541, 543 and 545.
- statistical consulting sequence: Stat 550 and Stat 551.
Courses Required for the MSc in Biostatistics
STAT 536 Design and Analysis of Clinical Studies (1-3)
STAT 538 Generalized Linear Models (1-3)
STAT 550 Statistical Consulting I (3)
STAT 560 Statistical Theory I (3)
STAT 545 Data Analysis (1-3)
SPPH 502 Epidemiology I (3)
SPPH 501 Analysis of Longitudinal Data from Epidemiological Studies (3) or STAT 527 Topics in Biostatistics (1-6)
Students in the M.Sc. program who are not in the Co-op option are required to write either a project report (3 credits) or a thesis (6 credits). The project/thesis supervisor and a second reader must sign the written work and a grade out of 100 is assigned by the supervisor. Students are required to make a presentation based on their completed work in a Department seminar.
Students choose their own project/thesis supervisors, but are not necessarily expected to find their own topics. However, students should have some thoughts on areas of interest.
The project/thesis is meant to provide experience in working independently and in completing a project from the initial stage of a set of questions to be considered through to the final report. The development of new statistical techniques is not required, but recent advances in statistical methodology should be incorporated in the project. The thesis should have some innovative aspect to it, such as applying a recently developed technique to a set of data or in a subject area where it has not been routinely used. A project on the other hand can be a survey of the literature in a particular area, or an application of widely available methodology to a data set.
Most M.Sc. theses and projects have an applied orientation and often consist of solving or at least investigating data analysis problems. A theoretical thesis would normally be most suitable for students planning to continue to a Ph.D. program.
In a Co-operative Education Program academic study is integrated with related and supervised work experience in co-operating employer organizations. For the graduate level Co-operative Education Option, students work for one eight-month segment.
Transfer from M.Sc. to Ph.D. Program
M.Sc. students may apply to the Department for transfer to the Ph.D. program. The Faculty of Graduate Studies stipulates that this must be done after completing one year of study in the M.Sc. program with a First Class average (80% or higher) in 18 credits, of which at least 10 credits must be at the 500 level or above and at least 10 credits must be at First Class standing. For admission to the Ph.D. program, students must show clear evidence of research ability, as demonstrated in their academic records and letters of recommendation.