The field of statistics is concerned with ways of understanding variability in measurements. It is the science and art of making informed decisions in the face of uncertainty. Statistical reasoning is fundamental to research in many scientific fields. For example, probabilistic models of learning are used in education and psychology, and time series and regression models guide research in engineering, chemistry, economics, biology, and medicine. Recent high-profile court cases have shown the importance of the use of probability and statistics in law, especially in the fields of forensic medicine and DNA fingerprinting. Statisticians also have been instrumental in developing methods by which observations are obtained in many disciplines. Examples include randomized clinical trials in medicine and complex sampling surveys in social and political science. Probability and statistics are basic to the actuarial sciences. When lists are compiled of the most important scientific theories and discoveries of the past century, a substantial number of the developments are seen to be inherently statistical in nature.
The Department of Statistics offers course work leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Statistics, a Minor in Applied Statistics, and a Combined Five-Year Bachelor and Master's Degree in Statistics. The department also offers a wide array of introductory service courses for general undergraduate audiences that deal with statistical methods in applications (and which require only high school mathematics). A joint major in economics and statistics is also available. Students considering a major or minor in statistics, or a joint major in economics and statistics should consult with a department advisor early in their studies, preferably during the freshman year.
The School of Arts and Sciences requires students to complete 12 credits in a related area that complements their majors. Because 15 credits in mathematics are among the co-requirements for the major, that normally is considered a student's related area.
Students in the program must earn at least a C grade in each required course.
The Siskin Memorial Scholarship, which rotates annually between the departments of Economics and Statistics, is presented to a student who demonstrates outstanding academic achievement.
The recipient, selected by the chair of the department, must be a Pennsylvania resident.