For Prospective Majors

What is Statistics?

Statistics is the mathematical and computational study of randomness and variability of data. It is one of the few major disciplines in which the expertise of a professional can have significant effect in fields as diverse as bioinformatics and medicine, finance and insurance, telecommunication and manufacturing, management and marketing, astrophysics and climatology, agriculture and forestry, as well as economics and education. Wherever one can gather data, the field of statistics is used.

Professionals trained in statistics collect and analyze data based on samples from larger populations, then calculate and interpret results methodologically in order to make inferences about those entire populations. They use quantitative abilities, statistical techniques, and computing and visualization skills to draw and communicate conclusions.

Program Overview

Statistics majors receive a Bachelor of Science or Arts degree. As a statistics major you will begin with preparatory course work in calculus, algebra, statistics, and computer science. At the advanced level, you will take core courses in applied statistical methods and probability theory, special topics courses such as time series analysis, statistical computing, and categorical data analysis, and elective courses where statistics is applied. There are three options/emphases within the Statistics degree:

  • The Applied Statistics option is very flexible, facilitating a double major or extensive elective course work in a field in which statistics is applied.
  • The general Statistics option emphasizes statistical theory and is especially recommended as preparation for graduate studies in statistics.
  • The Computational Statistics option emphasizes computing and it is designed for students particularly interested in the computational and data management aspects of statistical analysis.

Learning Outcomes

The undergrad curriculum in Statistics provides majors with the skills needed to utilize statistical techniques for addressing quantitative, data-based problems in fields such as biological and social sciences, engineering and technology, business and finance, law, and health and education. Students graduating with a Statistics degree will learn the basics of

  • statistical reasoning and inferential methods
  • statistical modeling and its limitations
  • interpreting and communicating the results of a statistical analysis
  • data analysis using statistical computing tools and software
  • probability and the mathematical foundations of statistics

Why should you study Statistics at UC Davis?

  • Internationally renowned faculty
    The UC Davis Statistics Department has a number of internationally renowned faculty, and as a statistics major, you will have the opportunity to study with these experts at the cutting edge of the field.
  • Outstanding undergraduate teaching
    Our faculty are extensively involved in teaching in addition to research. Four Statistics Professors, Peter Hall, Hans-Georg Müller, George Roussas, and Frank Samaniego, have been recognized by the UC Davis Academic Senate’s Distinguished Teaching award. This award honors UC Davis faculty who combine extraordinary scholarship with outstanding undergraduate teaching, and both of the professors and other teaching faculty in the Statistics Department exemplify these qualities.
  • Interdisciplinary and collaborative learning environment
    Statistics at UC Davis is also an interdisciplinary program. Many of our students combine their statistics studies with another major or minor such as biological sciences, computer science, engineering, economics, psychology, or sociology, depending on the student’s area of interest. This double major makes use of the need for statisticians across a large and increasing number of fields.
  • Great future career prospects
    Probability models and statistical methods are used in a great many fields. The broad applicability of statistics has created in both the public and private sectors a strong demand for graduates with statistical training.
    Business & Industry: market research, insurance, quality control, financial planning, and operations analysis
    Health & Medicine: hospitals, research universities, pharmaceutical companies, and federal and state health agencies
    Government: statistical research, survey statistics, computing, survey methodology and design, quality assurance, operations research, law, and management
  • Close interactions with faculty, staff, and peers
    Because the undergraduate program in statistics is relatively small at UC Davis, students interact more regularly with faculty, staff, and peers to develop knowledge, skills, and important relationships.  

Department Rankings

  • Between #1 and #6 among 60 programs (National Research Council 2010)
  • #27 (U.S. News & World Report’s “America's Best Graduate Schools 2015”)
  • Between #12 and #24 among 61 programs (National Research Council 2010)
  • Statistics and operational research: #50(QS World University Rankings 2015)

What do the students say about the major?

"I have been so lucky to have called the UC Davis Statistics program, including all of its supportive students, faculty, and staff, home for the past four years. Studying statistics not only teaches many important skills necessary to succeed in today's data driven society, but also helps develop individuals capable of critical thinking, problem solving, and hard work."
--Brian Goebel, '16

"The amazing thing about statistics is how it can be applied in almost any field. What makes statistics at UC Davis special is the community. The professors and staff here genuinely care about your well being and want you to succeed."
--Lydia Tse, '16

“Learning statistics has given me a passion and drive that foster my understanding of how data analysis can be an essential factor in many career fields. My experience with the Department of Statistics has been invaluable; the knowledge I've gained will undoubtedly equip me with the know-how to succeed in the work field.”
--Alan Eng, '10

“The Department of Statistics at UC Davis was a wonderful fit for me because it was small enough that it was possible to meet and get to know some of the faculty as an undergraduate, but big enough that many interesting classes are offered constantly. The best of both worlds!”
--Luis Campos, '09

“The training in statistics I received was excellent preparation for both my employment and now for my doctoral education in finance.”
--Kyle Matoba, '10

“My double major in Statistics and Biological Science-Molecular and Cellular Biology has helped me to understand how strongly statistics impacts the sciences. It has been extremely helpful in my research and the skills obtained from these two fields will be life long.”
--Christabel Moy, ‘06

“Statistics is an integral part of everyday life as the uses encompass an array of applications and inferences including sports, business, and education. It’s benefited me in understanding the applicability and interpretations of countless results ranging from news reports to studies pertaining to my minor in education. The professors and graduate students are always very welcoming and willing to help, which creates an excellent learning environment.”
--David Gonzales,‘06

What did the media say about the professionals working with statistics?