Degrees Without Borders: Online Programs in Applied Statistics

The age of Big Data is here, and there’s nothing but Big potential ahead!

‘Big Data’ means we’re now able to easily and quickly access a great deal of information from multiple databases, which can help us in our professional research and decision-making. This flow of info, for instance, can provide thorough details about customers and their buying habits, which can make it easier to make qualified projections about future costs and revenue expectations. The healthcare field can have access to info about patients, treatments, studies, medication and other research. Sports teams can pull up all sorts of statistics about team performance and fan demographics, including what areas of the stadium have the best and worst food and drink sales.

Basically, if the right parameters are put in to the right database, researchers can drill deep to find out just about anything. This power creates a few challenges, namely finding skilled individuals able to dive deep into databases to retrieve useful information and make sense of it. It takes specialized training in various methodologies, organizational software, various statistical analysis sources, and lots of practice.

Within the statistics field, several career and educational paths have evolved that focus especially on working well with Big Data. Some are in the area of data science, which generally deals with making sense of available information; and others focus on statistical analysis, which can involve creating the frameworks and parameters for effective qualitative and quantitative research, a field generally referred to as applied statistics. People with training in the latter area are in especially high demand. Kathryn Dill, a Forbes columnist, chose biostatistics and statistics as the top two master’s degree areas in 2016 for job seekers in terms of pay and satisfaction.

The ability to make sense of Big Data is already in high demand, but this trend is projected to keep on growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects openings in mathematics and statistics to grow 33 percent nationwide between 2016 and 2026, adding 13,500 jobs. Wages are also relatively high: median pay is $40.75/hour or $84,760 annually. Students considering useful career paths in the Big Data field or even people in the workplace now wanting to further hone their research skills can consider pursuing the educational field of applied statistics.

Continue reading for information about the benefits of this path and how to get started.

Fast Facts: Why are Statistics Skills important?

A national survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management and sponsored by the American Statistical Association showed that the number of universities that grant a bachelor’s degree in statistics grew by 50 percent from 2003 to 2015, and the number of graduate programs in this field grew 21 percent in the same period. This means that there are more opportunities to learn the basics or advanced skills at online or traditional college programs, rather than a few specialty schools that may require relocation.

Growing Demand for Stats Skills

Employers want and need these skills. LinkedIn Learning said that a survey of LinkedIn members concluded that statistical analysis and data mining are the second most in-demand skills businesses are seeking people for in 2018, and many companies are having challenges filling these positions.

Job Flexibility

Along with working directly for an employer to gather and arrange specific data, people with statistical analysis skills also may consider the entrepreneurial route by sharing their abilities with a variety of companies. An experienced stats consultant in such a high-demand, low-supply position can be lucrative.

Stats Experts to Know

Online Degrees in Statistics

There are plenty of options for people interested in learning more about applied statistics, including bachelor’s and master’s degree programs or professional certificates. These can be taken on campus, off campus through distance learning or a hybrid of both types.

In the rapidly developing applied statistics field, candidates who have received a diploma or certificate from an established, accredited academic program, especially coursework that demonstrates knowledge and competence of current software or the latest industry trends, may be more competitive in today’s job market.

Graduate programs are recommended for those who already have aptitude or interest in working with data, but are in need of developing better research methods. Some notable programs include:

American University

The school’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics offers a variety of programs for students with an interest in this topic, including a 120-credit bachelor’s degree in statistics with different concentrations including applied statistics, data science, and mathematical statistics. Students can also pursue a master’s degree in statistics, a combined bachelor degree and master degree in statistics, or a combined bachelor degree in statistics and a master degree in biostatistics. The 12-credit graduate certificate program provides an overview of collection, analysis, organization and presentation of information. It includes six core credits plus six elective in various statistical and analysis courses.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Types of courses: Survey sampling, regression, analysis
  • Cost: $1,708 per credit-hour
  • Length: Two to four years

University of Massachusetts, Lowell

The 126-credit bachelor of science in mathematics program with a statistics concentration offers a mix of online and on-campus courses that include a blend of math, economics, technical physics, communication, and education topics. The math portion includes foundational concepts such as algebra, precalculus and calculus, but then delves into more advanced areas such as discrete structures, applied statistics, linear statistics modeling and regression and probability.

  • Location: Lowell, MA
  • Types of courses: Experimental design, science with experimental learning, differential equations, microeconomics
  • Cost: $340 per credit on-campus; $380 per credit online
  • Length: Three to four years

University of Delaware

This fully online master of science in applied statistics program through the school’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources provides a firm foundation in statistical theory, probability and mathematical statistics, plus strategies on effective research model building. Students use actual data to analyze and aid in decision making, plus how to best utilize processes like regression, experiment design and multivariate methods. They’ll also work with various statistical analysis systems and receive a R-JMP 13 license. The 30-credit program also works closely with the school’s Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, which provides case studies and current information.

  • Location: Newark, DE
  • Types of courses: Biostatistics, statistical quality control, applied database management
  • Length: 2.5 years to six years
  • Cost: $1,000 per credit-hour; $30,000 for the program
  • Requirements: Competence in basic statistics, linear algebra and advanced calculus (math and statistical research classes are available prior to beginning the program)

Colorado State University

CSU has maintained a Department of Statistics since 1970 for students interested in research, analysis, statistical theory, probability and methodology, generations before people started talking about online databases and Big Data. The department continues to provide foundations and research methods but has also incorporated digital methodologies and tools. The 31-credit master’s program teaches effective ways to access and secure raw data and translate it into actionable insights. Students receive skills in creating regression models and learn quantitative reasoning. The school also offers related online graduate certificates for 10-11 credits in applications of regression models and data analysis.

  • Location: Fort Collins, CO
  • Types of classes: Computational and Graphical Statistics, Probability with Applications, Regression Models with Applications, Analysis of Time.
  • Length: One to four years
  • Cost: $795 per credit
  • Prerequisites: If students don’t have a recent background in this subject, they’re encouraged to take computing skills for statistical analysis and math skills for statistical analysis prior to beginning the program.

Penn State World Campus

Penn State’s Eberly College of Science and Penn State World Campus have combined efforts to offer a 30-credit master of applied statistics program in an online or on-campus format. Students learn a variety of traditional and newer digital concepts, including data mining, statistical consulting, biostatic techniques and predictive analysis. Completing the program also can provide adequate information to test for the SAS Base Programming Certification Exam or seek PStat accreditation from the American Statistical Association. Students can also earn a 12-credit graduate certificate in applied statistics and applied bioinformatics.

  • Location: University Park, PA
  • Cost: $853 per credit
  • Length: Two to five years
  • Types of courses: Statistical consulting, probability theory, regression methods, applied nonparametric statistics
  • Prerequisites: Matrix algebra and calculus (a three-credit overview is available)

Free (or Low-Cost) Stats Training

Being self-taught shows that a person has not only a strong interest in statistics, but also the motivation to buckle down and learn at one’s own pace outside of the structure of a traditional classroom.

The following are some programs that provide more self-directed training in statistics for a low cost:

edX

The online education program offers more than a dozen modules in the fields of data analysis and statistics. These are taught by instructors at universities and colleges around the world and divided into four or five lessons that can be taken over several weeks or months. Those interested in data/statistics can hone their skills in everything from better understanding baseball scoring to modern data mining. There are strategies on better modeling and predictive sciences, plus ways to work better with different disciplines, including law. Prices vary, but often are between $50 and $100.

Coursera

This online educational portal provides a variety of data science-related courses, including basic statistics, which is requirement if you want to take inferential statistics or related methodology courses. The eight-week basic statistics program covers different ways to measure data, build mathematical relationships, and focus on probability. There are also more than a dozen other related applied statistics courses such as qualitative and quantitative methods, statistical reasoning for public health, and clinical research.

Class Central

Self-paced online classes that can be taken over several weeks or months can offer supplemental material or refresh what was learned in college. There are a variety of basic statistics and probability courses taught by instructors from various colleges including Stanford. The content for some courses is free, but students will be charged if they want a certificate demonstrating completion.

As a final note, additional free (or reduced cost) training in statistics can be found through:

Joe Butler
Joe Butler
Writer

Joe Butler is an accomplished writer and editor in the Northwest with more than 20 years of experience publishing in newspapers, magazines, and specialty websites. He graduated from Central Washington University with a degree in mass communications and has worked with a variety of clients nationwide. Joe lives near Spokane, WA, where he writes, reads, and collects spoons as well as the cheapest, plastic snow-globes he can find.

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