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 coursework, including four courses in one of four concentration areas: actuarial science/financial mathematics, biostatistics, data science, or probability/mathematical statistics (see "Concentration Areas" below for area descriptions and course lists). They may take coursework 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, data science, or probability/mathematical statistics 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 evaluate the student's body of work and assess the student's potential for research. The body of work will include the M.S. final examination in statistics, the creative component, and coursework. 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 evaluate the student's body of work and assess 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 plan of study that does not conform to the requirements described below but is of high quality may be approved by the director of graduate studies.

The Ph.D. with a major in statistics requires the following coursework.

Required Coursework

Actuarial Science/Financial Mathematics Concentration Area

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.

One of these sequences:
STAT:4100-STAT:4101Mathematical Statistics I-II (same as IGPI:4100-IGPI:4101)6
STAT:5100-STAT:5101Statistical Inference I-II (for well-prepared students)6
All of these from the M.S. in actuarial science program:
ACTS:4130Quantitative Methods for Actuaries3
ACTS:4180Life Contingencies I3
ACTS:4280Life Contingencies II3
ACTS:6480Loss Distributions3
ACTS:6580Credibility and Survival Analysis3
STAT:4560Statistics for Risk Modeling3
And all of these:
STAT:5120Mathematical Methods for Statistics3
STAT:7100Advanced Inference I3
STAT:7101Advanced Inference II3
STAT:7200Linear Models4
STAT:7300Foundations of Probability I3
STAT:7400/IGPI:7400Computer Intensive Statistics3
STAT:7990Reading Research19
Seminars chosen from STAT:7190, STAT:7290, and STAT:73902
At least four of these, with at least one numbered 7000 or above:
ACTS:7730Advanced Topics in Actuarial Science/Financial Mathematics3
STAT:6301Probability and Stochastic Processes II3
STAT:7301Foundations of Probability II3
STAT:7560Time Series Analysis3
FIN:7110Finance Theory I3
FIN:7130Finance Theory II3

Biostatistics Concentration Area

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.

All of these from the M.S. in statistics program:
STAT:5090ALPHA Seminar1
STAT:5100Statistical Inference I3
STAT:5101Statistical Inference II3
STAT:5200/IGPI:5199Applied Statistics I4
STAT:5201Applied Statistics II3
STAT:5400/IGPI:5400Computing in Statistics3
STAT:6220Statistical Consulting3
STAT:6300Probability and Stochastic Processes I3
STAT:6990Readings in Statistics (two consecutive enrollments)2
And all of these:
STAT:5120Mathematical Methods for Statistics3
STAT:7100Advanced Inference I3
STAT:7101Advanced Inference II3
STAT:7200Linear Models4
STAT:7300Foundations of Probability I3
STAT:7400/IGPI:7400Computer Intensive Statistics3
STAT:7990Reading Research18
Seminars chosen from STAT:7190, STAT:7290, and STAT:73902
At least four of these, with at least one numbered 7000 or above:
STAT:6530/IGPI:6530Environmental and Spatial Statistics3
STAT:7510/BIOS:7410Analysis of Categorical Data3
STAT:7570/BIOS:7210/IGPI:7210Survival Data Analysis3
BIOS:6650/IGPI:6650Causal Inference3
BIOS:6720Statistical Machine Learning for Biomedical and Public Health Data3
BIOS:7240High-Dimensional Data Analysis3
BIOS:7310/IGPI:7310Longitudinal Data Analysis3

Data Science Concentration Area

The data science track emphasizes the theory, methodology, and application of techniques for working with and learning from data. This concentration area prepares students to develop new methods for visualizing and modeling data, managing reproducible data analysis workflows, and collaborating with scientists and other data stakeholders. It is excellent preparation for students interested in academic, industrial, or government positions that involve data visualization, modeling, and analysis.

All of these from the M.S. in statistics program:
STAT:5090ALPHA Seminar1
STAT:5100Statistical Inference I3
STAT:5101Statistical Inference II3
STAT:5200/IGPI:5199Applied Statistics I4
STAT:5201Applied Statistics II3
STAT:5400/IGPI:5400Computing in Statistics3
STAT:6220Statistical Consulting3
STAT:6300Probability and Stochastic Processes I3
STAT:6990Readings in Statistics (two consecutive enrollments)2
And all of these:
STAT:4540/IGPI:4540Statistical Learning3
STAT:4580/IGPI:4580Data Visualization and Data Technologies3
STAT:5120Mathematical Methods for Statistics3
STAT:7100Advanced Inference I3
STAT:7200Linear Models4
STAT:7400/IGPI:7400Computer Intensive Statistics3
STAT:7500Statistical Machine Learning3
STAT:7990Reading Research18
Seminars chosen from STAT:7190, STAT:7290, and STAT:73902
At least three of these, with at least one numbered 7000 or above:
STAT:6530/IGPI:6530Environmental and Spatial Statistics3
STAT:6560Applied Time Series Analysis3
STAT:6970Topics in Statistics3
STAT:7101Advanced Inference II3
STAT:7300Foundations of Probability I3
STAT:7510/BIOS:7410Analysis of Categorical Data3
STAT:7520Bayesian Analysis3
STAT:7560Time Series Analysis3

Probability/Mathematical Statistics Concentration Area

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.

All of these from the M.S. in statistics program:
STAT:5090ALPHA Seminar1
STAT:5100Statistical Inference I3
STAT:5101Statistical Inference II3
STAT:5200/IGPI:5199Applied Statistics I4
STAT:5201Applied Statistics II3
STAT:5400/IGPI:5400Computing in Statistics3
STAT:6220Statistical Consulting3
STAT:6300Probability and Stochastic Processes I3
STAT:6990Readings in Statistics (two consecutive enrollments)2
And all of these:
STAT:5120Mathematical Methods for Statistics3
STAT:7100Advanced Inference I3
STAT:7101Advanced Inference II3
STAT:7200Linear Models4
STAT:7300Foundations of Probability I3
STAT:7400/IGPI:7400Computer Intensive Statistics3
STAT:7990Reading Research18
Seminars chosen from STAT:7190, STAT:7290, and STAT:73902
At least four of these, with at least one numbered 7000 or above:
STAT:6301Probability and Stochastic Processes II3
STAT:7301Foundations of Probability II3
STAT:7500Statistical Machine Learning3
STAT:7520Bayesian Analysis3
STAT:7560Time Series Analysis3
BIOS:6650/IGPI:6650Causal Inference3
BIOS:7240High-Dimensional Data Analysis3

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 ISTAT: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/IGPI:5400 Computing in Statistics and STAT:7400/IGPI:7400 Computer Intensive Statistics.

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.

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 with a recognized scholar of professorial rank from another academic institution.

Prospectus

Within 18 months of passing the Ph.D. final exam, the candidate should present 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. Failure to successfully complete the prospectus within 24 months of passing the Ph.D. final exam will jeopardize the continuation of a student's financial support.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website.

Funds are available to help support outstanding Ph.D. applicants. Fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships provide an attractive stipend plus tuition at the resident rate and tuition scholarships for students who are appointed at least one-quarter time. In most cases, full tuition waivers are granted.

Students who wish to be considered for financial assistance for their third year in the program should request to go through the Ph.D. qualifying process no later than the spring semester of their second year.

Statistics and probability are vital to many fields, so the demand for well-trained statisticians is strong. Statisticians work in medicine, engineering, law, public policy making, marketing, manufacturing, engineering, agriculture, varied social and natural sciences, and numerous other areas.

The program prepares students for careers in research, applications, and teaching. To learn more about job opportunities, see ASA JobWeb on the American Statistical Association website.

The Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.