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Statistics major: useful?

Z.Exodus2008Z.Exodus2008 Posts: 576Registered User Member
edited November 2013 in Other College Majors
I'm currently looking at either a statistics major or an economics and math major. Ultimately, my goal is law school, but I'm interested in being able (as a "back-up plan," I suppose) to find a job either in consulting or on Wall Street after college graduation.

Although I'm doing fine in calculus, I wouldn't say that it's something I'm good at, and it certainly isn't anything I'm best at. This is why I'm leaning away from the economics and math major.

AP Stat, though, was easily my favorite class in my entire academic career, and not because of the teacher; I more or less self-taught the course. Statistics is just something I love so far, and I think I'll continue to love it.

My problem is mainly whether or not statistics is employable. I'm well aware that practically all research requires a certain understanding of statistics, but does that mean statistics majors actually find jobs? Often?


You see, I'm currently debating between Yale and Wharton. My parents strongly, strongly favor Wharton because of how "easily" Whartonites seem to find Wall Street jobs. However, I personally prefer Yale, and I have to somehow convince my parents that a Yalie's likelihood of finding employment is at least equal to a Whartonite's likelihood. It's a ridiculous thing to have to do, but I haven't been able to find employment statistics for comparison.
Post edited by Z.Exodus2008 on

Replies to: Statistics major: useful?

  • LastThreeYearsLastThreeYears Posts: 480Registered User Member
    YES! STATS is a great major that leads to all sort of jobs!

    5 College Majors That Can Help You Get a Job - Personal Finance - College Planning - SmartMoney.com

    Statistics majors tend to be highly sought-after graduates and are often hired into lucrative positions straight out of college, Wong says.

    Companies from all sectors look for statistics experts, including pharmaceutical and insurance companies and Wall Street firms. Pharmaceutical companies are especially interested in biostatistics majors who can create models to test drugs. Wall Street turns to statistics experts for their quantitative skills and large-scale modeling. However, these positions often require a PhD.

    “You need statistical analysis to do anything regarding research and to assess various alternatives, whether it’s in alternative energy or health care,” says Stephen Leeb, chief investment officer of Leeb Capital Management in New York.
  • ava559ava559 Posts: 33Registered User Junior Member
    Actuarial science?
  • jaysorenson19jaysorenson19 Posts: 195Registered User Junior Member
    While Wharton does have an actuarial science major, I would not suggest it. It's aimed at a narrow segment, namely, the life insurance industry.

    To answer your questions, if you end up at EITHER Yale or Wharton, your major will matter very little. In other words, major in what you love the most because Wall Street employs Ivy-grads of any major. Statistics, however, is VERY employable.

    Also, the difference between Wharton and Yale is negligible. Wharton does have a small advantage, but it is not large enough to warrant choosing Wharton over Yale if you feel more comfortable at Yale. If I were your parents, I would be proud of you for even having the choice.

    Lastly, I caution advising you to choose statistics if you do not like calculus. I was an actuarial science, economics, and statistics triple major so I will try to give a brief breakdown of what you can expect in your three options calculus-wise:

    Statistics: probability theory uses a lot of multivariable calculus. Your AP stats class likely focused on counting methods (i.e. you draw 6 marbles...). This is only a small segment of probability and statistics. In both, you will be doing numerous double integrals and other techniques from calculus.

    Economics: the least calculus-intensive of the three. You will only be using basic derivitives, along with some partial derivitives (a simple technique from multivariable calculus)

    Math: less computational than you would think. If you enjoyed "proofs" from your geometry class in middle school, you may enjoy this route. Math as a college major is very abstract and conceptual. Computation becomes less and less important as you progress through your education.

    I hope this helps.
  • OminousRunOminousRun Posts: 690Registered User Member
    Since I'm about 80 days away from completing my BS in Statistics, feel free to ask me anything you'd like about the subject.

    One of the reasons I picked Stats as my major is because it is such an employable degree, spanning across a wide range of fields. Nearly every type of business uses statistics, but not every business (person) uses statistics properly. That can set you apart from other prospective job seekers.

    FWIW, if you aren't a big fan of Calculus, becoming an actual Math major isn't the best way to go. For a Statistics degree, you will use Calculus in about 6 or 7+ classes. Calculus concepts are the backbone of Statistical Theory, so a basic understanding of Calc is needed for the other upper division classes. Most stats degrees require Calc I-III, Probability Theory (Calc based), Statistical Theory (Calc based), Linear & Matrix Algebra (while not technically Calc based, there can be a lot of Calc concepts in there), and maybe another Calc class (Advanced Calc/Real Analysis).

    Most of the other classes you take for a Stats degree focus around Methods of Hypothesis testing, Regression Analysis, Computer Science & Computer programming for Statistics, Sampling, and other applied Statistics classes (Non-parametrics, Categorical Analysis, Sampling & Surveying Methods, Time Series/Forecasting, Experimental Design, etc).

    It's an incredible broad degree it you take full advantage of it.
  • yg7s7yg7s7 Posts: 876Registered User Member
    Acturial Science major is too narrow jaysorenson19 said and you can probably study for actuarial exams using your Statistics background.
  • -Lurker--Lurker- Posts: 1,420Registered User Senior Member
    I have a family member who has a PhD in Statistics. It is a very stable field with many, many employment opportunities across many industries. Statistics is also a skillset that is very much in demand right now!
  • ANDS!ANDS! Posts: 211Registered User Junior Member
    FWIW, if you aren't a big fan of Calculus, becoming an actual Math major isn't the best way to go

    All depends on the track one decides to go down. If you have a pure math program at your school, they may have you take a single semester of Analysis, but beyond that you'll be using very little calculus; certainly nothing from Calc 3 (vector calculus). The problem is, combining Econ with Pure Math is kind of an awkward mix, as most programs will have wanted you to have analysis versus algebra. Analysis isn't impossible if you're a bit rusty on your calc; it'll mostly be things from Calc 1 and 2 (limits, continuity, derivatives, sequences & series, etc.) so if you've at least got a comfort level with that, you should be "fine".

    I think most folks will tell you though, that Econ/Stats are like Ebony & Ivory and the preferred mix.
  • yg7s7yg7s7 Posts: 876Registered User Member
    I have a question on my own. How valuable is M.S in Statistics? I'm asking this because I don't have B.S in Statistics and would like to make a career change. Will getting an M.S in Stats let me get a job without undergrad internship experiences?

    Also, how important is the prestige of the school?
  • OminousRunOminousRun Posts: 690Registered User Member
    MS in Stats is very valuable. However, they are very hard to get.

    If you don't have a strong math background you are probably never going to make it through the courses required for an MS in Stats.

    There are really two different types of Masters programs in Statistics. Pure Statistics and Applied Statistics.

    The pure MS in Statistics programs are usually a subset of a PhD program, and require a thesis. Heavy in theory and mathematics.

    There are several terminal, "professional" MS in (Applied) Statistics programs. These are designed for professionals who used statistics in a business/industrial/professional setting. Probably less math intensive and theoretical than MS Stats programs, and typically don't require a thesis. You still have to have a solid foundation in Calculus (multivariate) and Linear/Matrix Algebra to get through them.

    There's a minor (big?) drawback with the MS in Applied Stats programs, they tend to cost a boatload of money.
  • yg7s7yg7s7 Posts: 876Registered User Member
    ^Thanks for the comment. I actually have a minor in math so I should have a "somewhat" strong math background. Right now Applied Statistics seems more attractive to me, but does it necessarily have a better job prospect than pure Stats?
  • ANDS!ANDS! Posts: 211Registered User Junior Member
    Stats & Applied Stats is like the difference between Pure Math and Applied Math; you will still leave the campus with the tools to do the work the Pure individual went down, your career trajectories will just be different. You will still take theoretical classes - it's the electives that would define your academics.

    As for math preparation - Real Analysis (and by default some transition to proof based mathematics) is probably the biggie that they are looking for and would expect you to have a handle on your first two semesters if you hadn't had it in your lower division career. Most programs aren't really interested in folks who haven't had Calculus, so you should be in good shape if you went for a math minor.

    Not sure what programs are costing different from the previous poster, though I suppose that depends on where (country) you live.
  • Aimhigh04Aimhigh04 Posts: 1Registered User New Member
    I am a freshmen in university, but I am really having problems choosing my major.
    I am good at math and math is what I feel comfortable with.
    Right now I am between finance, actuarial science, engineering or statistics.
    I do not have any specific preference but I would just choose the one with the biggest job opportunities.
    Will somebody help me with this?? Which one is a good major?
  • AnnoyinggirlAnnoyinggirl Posts: 215- Junior Member
    Engineering has the biggest job prospects, assuming you are talking about the undergrad level. Then comes acturial sciences (if you pass the difficult tests to become a certified actuary, acturial science is best in both pay and employment prospects. However, these tests are not easy and passing rate is below 30%. If i remember correctly, there 8 tests in total. You can become an acturary before the eighth test. I think maybe around the fifth test, but don't take my word for it). Then comes statistics/finance. Finance if you come from a top 20 school. Stats if you come from mediocre school.
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