Source: University of Oxford
Source: University of Oxford

As our lives revolve more around technology, we’re using, storing and managing more data than any other point in history. From e-commerce and social media to the proliferation of sensors and devices, these are the key drivers behind the massive explosion of data on the Internet — so much so that by 2025, scientists predict humans will produce one trillion gigabytes of data in a year, or 75 zettabytes.

An equal amount of challenges await, such as information paralysis, security concerts, ethical dilemmas, bias and discrimination, and more. But there are opportunities too, for those who can make sense of, make predictions and make decisions in a highly sophisticated, data-driven world. To achieve this, an advanced degree in statistics, the foundation of data analysis, with high-level mathematical training is crucial. Below are three universities offering rigorous postgraduate programmes in statistics:

University of Oxford

If you’re looking for wide-ranging high-level training in applied and computational statistics, statistical machine learning, and the fundamental principles of statistical inference, the Master of Science in Statistical Science from the University of Oxford is for you. The University’s Department of Statistics provides a vibrant academic environment for students to thrive in. It is a world leader in research in areas such as computational statistics and machine learning, statistical methodology, probability, bioinformatics, statistical genetics and statistical epidemiology.

In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), an impressive 78% of the submission was judged to be 4* – the highest score available for research quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance, and rigour.

The Department is situated centrally in the historic city of Oxford, with its dreaming spires, ancient colleges, and open parks set around the river Thames. 63% of students are from outside the UK, and the Department’s modern facilities provide a welcoming place to meet and learn together.

In the Statistics master’s programme, students get the opportunity to learn from world-leading experts in the field of statistical science and machine learning, including its applications. The degree combines rigorous theoretical learning with hands-on practical experience, providing a strong basis for a wide range of data-driven careers.

This twelve-month full-time taught degree will equip you to choose the most appropriate statistical method to solve a given problem of data analysis, to implement the analysis on a computer and to communicate your results clearly and succinctly.

“The MSc in Statistical Science carefully balances the teaching of advanced fundamental concepts in Statistics with setting you up for a wide variety of careers at the intersection of cutting-edge disciplines,” adds a recent MSc student.

ETH Zürich is primarily devoted to the sciences. Source: ETH Zürich

ETH Zürich is primarily devoted to the sciences. Source: ETH Zürich

ETH Zürich

ETH Zürich needs no introduction when it comes to academic excellence. It is ranked ninth among the world’s top universities by the latest QS World University Rankings and sits at the 11th spot in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2023. A university that is primarily devoted to the sciences, it has produced 22 Nobel laureates among its alumni, including Albert Einstein himself.

Under the Natural Sciences & Mathematics department, the institution has a Master of Science in Statistics that applies the core theoretical developments of statistical modelling, applied statistics and mathematical statistics to practical scenarios. Subject-related and free electives are interwoven into this, creating room to specialise and deepen their knowledge in specific areas. A real consulting case culminates the end of their programme, allowing students to apply their learning to a real-world context.

The Master of Science in Statistics requires 90 credit points, broken up into 60 credits from core courses, elective courses from both statistics or mathematics and free electives, and 30 credits from the thesis. This usually takes three or four semesters to complete. 

Students conclude their study with a master’s thesis, which allows them to demonstrate the ability to work independently while keeping to a structure. For this, students will also use what they have learnt: from analysing and interpreting data to plan effective data collection. Their work can be applied (data analysis) and theoretical (method development). 

UC Berkeley, Graduation, Class of 2023

UC Berkeley, Graduation of Class 2023

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society has a stellar Department of Statistics. With bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees in Statistics available, the department has world-class resources for both study and research. This includes the expert and experienced faculty, extensive computational facilities maintained by the Statistical Computing Facility, and dedicated advisors.

The department’s statistics master’s is a full-time research programme for one year with a focus on tackling statistical challenges encountered by the industry rather than preparing for a PhD. Prominent research areas include artificial intelligence/machine learning, biology and medicine, causal inference and graphical models, high dimensional data analysis, non-parametric inference, physical and environmental sciences, probability theory, social sciences and statistical computing.

“Our programme is definitely one of the best statistics programmes in the world, with both rigorous theory and applied knowledge,” says Rachel Hu, who graduated with a statistics master’s in 2019. “Besides, the faculty support is so strong and makes me more confident to accept any challenges! I am so proud of being a graduate student here, and I will work harder in the future to enable more talents to join us.”

The job prospects after graduating from this university are pretty impressive. UC Berkeley’s alumni have entered fields like government, banking and finance, academics, environment, biotech and medicine, insurance, and engineering and manufacturing. Some starting salaries have been between US$60,000 to US$200,000 annually.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International