Ph.D. in Statistics

 

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Updated July 11, 2017

The Doctor of Philosophy program in statistics requires a minimum of 76 s.h. of graduate credit, including work completed for the M.S. degree.

The Graduate College requires a minimum g.p.a. of 3.00 to graduate with a Ph.D. degree; however, the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science requires a higher g.p.a. of at least 3.40 to earn the Ph.D. in statistics. This includes all courses used to meet degree requirements plus additional courses that are relevant to a student's program.

Ph.D. students complete required course work, including four courses in one of four concentration areas: biostatistics, probability/mathematical statistics, statistical computing, or actuarial science/financial mathematics (see "Concentration Areas" below for area descriptions and course lists). They may take course work or seminars in other departments to relate an area of specialization to other fields of knowledge, to acquire the ability to use electronic digital computing equipment, or to learn non-English language skills necessary for reading scientific journals and communicating with scholars in other languages.

Ph.D. Qualifying Procedure

Students enter the Ph.D. program in one of two tracks:

Statistics—After successfully passing both the M.S. final examination in statistics and the creative component (in exceptional cases, a student may petition to go through the Ph.D. qualifying procedure early), a student who will choose either biostatistics, probability/mathematical statistics, or statistical computing as the selected concentration area, can request, by notifying the director of graduate studies, to go through the Ph.D. qualifying procedure. Upon this request, the faculty evaluates the student's body of work and assesses the student's potential for research. The body of work will include the M.S. final examination in statistics, the creative component, and course work. This evaluation and assessment results in one of three decisions—the student is officially admitted into the Ph.D. program; the student must reapply to go through the Ph.D. qualifying procedure after accumulating a larger body of work for evaluation; or the student is not admitted into the Ph.D. program.

Actuarial Science—After successfully passing the M.S. final examination in actuarial science (in exceptional cases, a student may petition to go through the Ph.D. qualifying procedure early), a student who will choose actuarial science/financial mathematics as the selected concentration area, can request, by notifying the director of graduate studies, to go through the Ph.D. qualifying procedure. Upon this request, the faculty evaluates the student's body of work and assesses the student's potential for research. The body of work will include the M.S. final examination in actuarial science, professional examinations passed, and course work. This evaluation and assessment results in one of two decisions—the student is officially admitted into the Ph.D. program in the actuarial science/financial mathematics concentration area, or the student is not admitted into the Ph.D. program.

Students complete the program by passing the Ph.D. final (comprehensive) examination and writing and defending a dissertation. Students usually complete the program three years after earning the M.S. degree.

A program that does not conform to the requirements described below but is of high quality may be approved by the department chair.

Each semester a Ph.D. student in statistics registers for at least 6 s.h., that student must include at least one 2 s.h. course offered by the department, excluding STAT:6990 Readings in Statistics and STAT:7990 Reading Research.

The Doctor of Philosophy in statistics requires the following work.

Statistics Courses

Biostatistics, Probability/Mathematical Statistics, or Statistical Computing Concentration Area

Students in the biostatistics, probability/mathematical statistics, or statistical computing concentration area must complete the following core courses from the M.S. in statistics program.

All of these:  
STAT:5090 ALPHA Seminar 1
STAT:5100-STAT:5101 Statistical Inference I-II 6
STAT:5200-STAT:5201 Applied Statistics I-II 7
STAT:5400 Computing in Statistics 3
STAT:6220 Statistical Consulting 3
STAT:6300 Probability and Stochastic Processes I 3
STAT:6990 Readings in Statistics (two consecutive enrollments) 2

Actuarial Science/Financial Mathematics Concentration Area

Students in the actuarial science/financial mathematics concentration area must complete the following core courses from the M.S. in actuarial science program.

One of these sequences:  
STAT:4100-STAT:4101 Mathematical Statistics I-II 6
STAT:5100-STAT:5101 Statistical Inference I-II (for well-prepared students) 6
All of these:  
ACTS:3080 Mathematics of Finance I 3
ACTS:4130 Quantitative Methods for Actuaries 3
ACTS:4180 & ACTS:4280 Life Contingencies I-II 6
ACTS:4380 Mathematics of Finance II 3
ACTS:6160 Topics in Actuarial Science arr.
ACTS:6480 Loss Distributions 3
ACTS:6580 Credibility and Survival Analysis 3
STAT:4560 Statistics for Risk Modeling 3
A course approved by the advisor 3

All Concentration Area Courses

Additional Ph.D. core course work, regardless of concentration area.

All of these:  
STAT:5120 Mathematical Methods for Statistics 3
STAT:7100-STAT:7101 Advanced Inference I-II 6
STAT:7200 Linear Models 4
STAT:7300 Foundations of Probability I 3
STAT:7400 Computer Intensive Statistics 3
STAT:7990 Reading Research 18
Seminars, chosen from STAT:7190 or STAT:7290 or STAT:7390 2

Concentration Areas

Students take at least four courses in one of the following concentration areas; at least one of the four courses must be at the Ph.D. level (numbered 7000 or above).

Statistical Computing

Statistical computing emphasizes the theory and application of a broad array of statistical models, such as linear, generalized linear, nonlinear, categorical, spatial, correlated response, and nonparametric regression models. This concentration area prepares students to specify and choose appropriate models; fit the models using available statistical software; and make sound statistical conclusions and interpretive statements. It is excellent preparation for students interested in academic, industrial, or government positions that involve data modeling and analysis.

STAT:6510 Applied Generalized Regression 3
STAT:6530 Environmental and Spatial Statistics 3
STAT:6540 Applied Multivariate Analysis 3
STAT:6560 Applied Time Series Analysis 3
STAT:6970 Topics in Statistics 3
STAT:7510 Analysis of Categorical Data 3
STAT:7520 Bayesian Analysis 3
STAT:7560 Time Series Analysis 3

Probability/Mathematical Statistics

Probability/mathematical statistics emphasizes a broad, solid foundation in techniques and underpinnings of mathematical statistics. Its focus on breadth and depth is intended to produce well-rounded, knowledgeable scholars. It is excellent preparation for academic positions in mathematical statistics and industrial or government positions that require broadly trained statisticians with a strong understanding of statistical theory.

STAT:6301 Probability and Stochastic Processes II 3
STAT:7301 Foundations of Probability II 3
STAT:7520 Bayesian Analysis 3
STAT:7560 Time Series Analysis 3

Biostatistics

Biostatistics emphasizes exposure to various biostatistical methods, such as survival analysis, categorical data analysis, and longitudinal data analysis. It prepares students for consulting and other positions in industry.

STAT:6530 Environmental and Spatial Statistics 3
STAT:6540 Applied Multivariate Analysis 3
STAT:7510 Analysis of Categorical Data 3
STAT:7570 Survival Data Analysis 3
BIOS:7310 Longitudinal Data Analysis 3

Actuarial Science/Financial Mathematics

Actuarial science/financial mathematics emphasizes the theory of actuarial science, finance, and risk management. It is excellent preparation for academic positions in universities that offer actuarial science programs and for positions in the insurance, pension, and financial industries. Most students who choose this concentration area are admitted after earning an M.S. in actuarial science at the University of Iowa.

ACTS:7730 Advanced Topics in Actuarial Science/Financial Mathematics arr.
STAT:6301 Probability and Stochastic Processes II 3
STAT:7301 Foundations of Probability II 3
STAT:7560 Time Series Analysis 3
FIN:7110 Finance Theory I 3
FIN:7130 Finance Theory II 3

Ph.D. Final Examination

Students typically take the Ph.D. final (comprehensive) examination at the beginning of the third year of graduate study, during the week before fall classes begin. Students who do not succeed the first time they take the exam may repeat it once.  Ordinarily, this second opportunity to pass the exam will occur one year later, during the week before fall classes begin.  However, a student who performs well on one area of the exam but not the other may, in consultation with their advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies, petition the department to move up their second opportunity to the week before the next spring semester's classes begin.  The department's decision on whether to grant this petition will take into account any extenuating circumstances.

The comprehensive examination consists of a written core examination and an oral examination in two of the following four areas:

statistical inference (topics in STAT:5100 Statistical Inference I, STAT:5101 Statistical Inference II, and STAT:7100 Advanced Inference I);

linear models (topics in STAT:7200 Linear Models);

probability (topics in STAT:6300 Probability and Stochastic Processes I and STAT:7300 Foundations of Probability I); and

statistical computing (topics in STAT:5400 Computing in Statistics,  and STAT:7400 Computer Intensive Statistics).

Ph.D. students in the actuarial science/financial mathematics concentration area have the option of taking only one of the four examinations listed above and an actuarial science/financial mathematics examination designed by their advisor and approved by the director of graduate studies.

Ph.D. Committee

Upon passing the Ph.D. final examination, the candidate chooses a committee of at least five members, which is approved by the advisor. At least four of the faculty members must be University of Iowa tenure-track faculty members. At least two of the faculty members must be from the major department (defined as faculty members who hold any appointment in the major department), and University of Iowa tenure-track faculty members.

The department may request the Graduate College dean's permission to replace one of the five committee members by a recognized scholar of professorial rank from another academic institution.

Prospectus

Within 12 months of passing the Ph.D. final exam, the candidate presents a written and oral prospectus to the committee. The prospectus describes the problems the student is considering for the thesis, relevant background material, ideas for solving the problems, and any preliminary results.

 

Application for Degree

The student must file an application for an anticipated degree with the Registrar not later than ten weeks after the start of the semester or one week after the start of the summer session in which the degree will be conferred. The student must have the application signed by his or her advisor. Failure to file the Application for Degree by the deadline will result in postponement of graduation to a subsequent session.

Ph.D. Timeline

The timeline below describes the key milestones in the Ph.D. program. Meeting these milestones on time constitutes "adequate progress" toward the Ph.D. degree. See also the sample schedule below. Note that the year numbers refer to those entering the program with a baccalaureate degree. Students who enter after some amount of graduate study elsewhere may in effect be starting in year 2 or year 3.

Year 1

  • Complete at least 18 semester hours of coursework with a GPA of at least 3.4, including courses needed to prepare for the M.S. Final Examination.

Year 2

  • Take the M.S. Final Examination before classes start in the fall. If necessary, re-take the exam in January.
  • Complete at least 18 s.h. of coursework, including all prerequisites to STAT:7100 (22S:253), STAT:7200 (22S:255), and STAT:7300 (22S:203) with a GPA of at least 3.4 -- in essence meeting the requirements of the M.S. program.
  • Satisfactorily complete the creative component requirement (draft by end of fall, polished and presented by mid-spring).
  • Begin working on identifying a potential dissertation advisor and dissertation topic.

Year 3

  • Pass the comprehensive examination. (In certain cases where it was not possible to take the needed 7000-level courses by the end of the second year, this may need to be deferred to the fourth year.)
  • Complete at least 15 s.h. of courses with a GPA of 3.4 of higher, including a seminar course [STAT:7190 (22S:291), STAT:7290 (22S:295), or STAT:7390 (22S:293)].
  • Identify the dissertation advisor, dissertation topic, and dissertation committee.

Year 4

  • Complete most remaining core and concentration-area courses with a GPA of 3.4 or higher, a seminar course [STAT:7190 (22S:291), STAT:7290 (22S:295), or STAT:7390 (22S:293)], and 3-6 s.h. of STAT:7990 (22S:299) Reading Research.
  • Present the dissertation prospectus.

Year 5

  • Complete all course requirements, including remaining hours of STAT:7990 (22S:299) Reading Research, with a GPA of at least 3.4.
  • Complete the dissertation, including meeting dissertation deposit deadlines.
  • File the Application for Degree during the final semester.
  • Defend the dissertation.

Sample Schedule for Ph.D. Students in Statistics

Year Fall Semester Spring Semester
1 STAT:5090 ALPHA Seminar

STAT:5100 Statistical Inference I

STAT:5200 Applied Statistics I

STAT:5400 Computing in Statistics

STAT:5101 Statistical Inference II

STAT:5120 Mathematical Methods for Statistics

STAT:5201 Applied Statistics II

2 [M.S. Final Examination]

STAT:6300 Probability and Stochastic Processes I

STAT:6990 Readings in Statistics (1 s.h.)

STAT:7100 Advanced Inference I, STAT:7200 Linear Models, or STAT:7300 Foundations of Probability I

one concentration course

STAT:6220 Statistical Consulting

STAT:6990 Readings in Statistics (1 s.h.)

STAT:7400 Computer Intensive Statistics

STAT:7101 Advanced Inference II, STAT:7301 Foundations of Probability II, or a concentration course

3 [Comprehensive Examination]

remaining courses from STAT:7100 Advanced Inference I, STAT:7200 Linear Models, and

STAT:7300 Foundations of Probability I

one concentration course

STAT:7101 Advanced Inference II, or STAT:7301 Foundations of Probability II

one concentration course

STAT:7990 Reading Research (3 s.h.)