Best Online Master’s in Statistics Programs

The field of statistics is growing at a rapid pace. Discover some of the best online statistics master’s programs, find out what you’ll learn, and discover the many in-demand jobs that await when you graduate.

In the field of statistics, the numbers do the talking. That’s not only in your work, but in your job and salary prospects, too. With a much-faster-than-average growth rate of 33% and median salaries nearing $100,000, an online master’s in statistics could be a great way to advance your career if you excel in mathematics and are interested in data science, analytics, or emerging technologies.

Studying statistics deepens your quantitative reasoning skills and prepares you for innovative work in various industries. Thanks to flexible classes and affordable online tuition, statistics master’s programs online make it easier to balance school, work, and life.

Here’s everything you need to get started: overviews of several top-ranked programs, details of what you’ll learn once you enroll, and outlines of several career paths with bright job outlooks. You’ll also learn more about the financial side of getting an online master’s in statistics and get answers to a few frequently asked questions. Keep reading to learn more.

College Spotlights: Top Online Statistics Master’s Programs in 2021

As you investigate statistics master’s programs online, you’ll want to consider important factors such as flexibility, curriculum, and total cost. Each school listed below sets itself apart by offering interactive learning experiences, in-demand specializations, and additional options for professional development. Below are three best-in-class online statistics master’s programs. These spotlights are a preview of the complete rankings arriving later this year, so be sure to check back for those.

Texas A&M University

texas-am-university-logo

Texas A&M University’s main campus in College Station offers an online master of science in statistics that consists of 36 credits, a diagnostic examination, and a capstone project. The program includes comprehensive training in quantitative research methods and computational statistics. Students select from a full range of electives that cover topics like biostatistics, sampling, data mining, and applied analytics. The program also offers an optional consulting course near the end of study in which aspiring professionals gain real-world experience solving statistical problems.

Taught by faculty in Texas A&M’s Department of Statistics, this fully online course replicates the rigor of in-person learning by using synchronous and asynchronous platforms. Students access recorded lectures and other study material whenever they’d like and meet once a week for a live discussion in a virtual environment. Exams are also delivered remotely and require an in-person proctor approved by the university. Prospective students must satisfy prerequisites in calculus and matrix algebra.

Colorado State University

colorado-state-university-logo

Students at Colorado State University can earn an online master of applied statistics in just 12 months. This 31-credit program develops the skills and knowledge for work in data analysis, machine learning, and statistical curation. Students with a clear sense of how they plan to use their degree can choose specializations in data science or statistical science. The curriculum includes instruction in regression modeling and experimental design, data visualization, multivariate analysis, and computational simulation.

Most courses for this online master’s in statistics last around eight weeks. Colorado State uses an intuitive and interactive learning management system to accommodate busy learners and working professionals. Faculty and peer interaction tools include asynchronous recordings, videoconferencing, chat rooms, and threaded discussion boards. Each step of the way, students learn to collect data, analyze patterns, and communicate findings to those without a background in statistics or quantitative reasoning.

North Carolina State University

nc-state-university-logo

North Carolina (NC) State University offers an online master’s in statistics that instills a firm foundation in statistical theory, programming, and data computation. The program requires 30 credits and includes concentrations in biostatistics, environmental statistics, finance, and statistical genetics. Online courses at NC State run concurrently with on-campus instruction. Students view recordings of lectures from faculty experts and use a range of virtual tools to complete assignments, communicate with other students, and interact with instructors. Potential courses look at Bayesian analysis, applied time series, and other topics.

Choose from three different start dates throughout the year. NC State expects students to graduate within six years, but most finish on a quicker timetable by taking advantage of summer sessions and other intensive offerings. Graduates develop a strong facility with multiple programming languages and build core skills in assessing predictive and inferential data models. In addition to affordable tuition, this program also offers training grants and research fellowships.

Advantages of Earning an Online Master’s in Statistics

Some of the major benefits associated with this degree include broadening your professional profile and developing new areas of expertise. Graduate-level classes show that you can go beyond the basics and apply your skills in situations that help achieve goals and solve real-world problems. In addition, online statistics master’s programs offer additional advantages like:

  1. Increased flexibility

    Online programs in any field can claim this benefit, but statistics sets itself apart by offering all learning experiences remotely for optimal flexibility. Study at your own pace, balancing your studies with other personal and professional responsibilities.

  2. Cutting-edge topics

    Statistics is a broad field, and new applications emerge all the time thanks to technological growth and development of new markets. The best online statistics master’s tailor their curricula to meet these changing demands and ready their graduates for emerging sectors.

  3. Robust networking

    A solid, reliable professional network is crucial these days and can often make a big difference when your job hunt begins. By earning an online master’s in statistics, you give yourself the opportunity to forge new connections while developing your skills. Developing good relationships with peers and faculty during your statistics master’s program online will serve you well in the future.

What You’ll Learn in Statistics Master’s Programs Online

These programs offer advanced training in statistical theory and techniques, mathematics, and methods of quantitative reasoning. You’ll learn how to interpret complex data sets to solve problems and meet organizational needs using applied tools and software packages. You’ll also gain additional skills in modeling, programming, and experimental design.

Courses and curriculum specifics differ a bit depending on the program and school. That said, most online master’s in statistics programs have a core group of classes. The ones listed below are popular and give you an idea of what may be available in the online master’s in statistics program that you choose.

Common Courses

  • Statistics Foundations

    This course introduces students to the basic principles of statistics and quantitative reasoning with special emphasis on probability and statistical inference. This is a foundational prerequisite in most programs. Material typically covers expectation and variance, sampling distribution, probability functions, and confidence intervals.

  • Data Science Discovery

    This class explores the intersection between statistics, computation, and data-driven decision making. Students select a research project and practice statistical analysis using hands-on methods from real-world case studies and data sets. Throughout the course students examine how social and privacy concerns impact data analysis. They also use experimental design methods to help communicate their findings.

  • Statistical Software

    Students in this course receive an overview of the main software packages used in professional statistical practice. The class builds proficiency in each package and looks at how to use built-in functions and develop new ones. Other subjects include data structures and manipulation, subsetting, looping and conditional execution, graphic macros, sorting and merging, and matrix arrays.

  • Data Visualization and Computational Theory

    This class prepares students for work visualizing data sets informed by computational statistics for unfamiliar audiences. It looks at simulation and numerical methods, graphic displays, and p-values. Students assess existing simulation studies and discuss results while pursuing individual visualization projects based on case studies.

  • Capstone/Thesis

    Most online statistics master’s programs culminate with an integrative thesis or capstone project. Specifics vary, but students who opt for a thesis must plan and carry out an original research project. The nonthesis capstone option usually involves addressing a real-world problem in an applied setting using methods of statistical inference.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Statistics Programs

Institutional accreditation is one of the first things you should look for when assessing potential schools and programs. Accreditation is a quality-assurance measure that verifies program excellence and validates your degree. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation establish guidelines for this process and recognize the independent agencies that carry it out.

Most nonprofit colleges and universities receive regional accreditation. Technical, vocational, and for-profit schools usually obtain national accreditation. If you see a school that does not hold either form of institutional accreditation, the school may not be legitimate.

Sometimes courses of study hold a supplemental credential called programmatic accreditation. This offers additional discipline-specific backing but it does not replace institutional accreditation. Currently there is no single entity that offers programmatic accreditation for online master’s programs in statistics.

What You Can Do with a Master’s Degree in Statistics

Experts in this field are in high demand. Exponential increases in electronic data mean that employers need skilled professionals to analyze that data. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in statistics and related fields will grow by at least 33% over the next decade. That figure significantly outpaces other occupations and foretells lots of jobs (and high salaries) for new students, recent graduates, and seasoned professionals.

Earning an online master’s in statistics helps you tap into these trends. The careers detailed below are examples of just some of the roles you can move into once you graduate.

Statistician

Statisticians use quantitative theories and methods of research to gather, organize, and analyze data. They often summarize the data for nonexperts and translate it into useable information for their employer. Many statisticians work to develop new means of collecting data based on target audiences and organizational goals.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$52,690

$91,160

$146,770

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Mathematician

Mathematicians conduct applied research and use principles drawn from algebra and geometry to solve real-world problems. Some develop new concepts and theorems, while others implement existing research in fields like engineering, business, and the sciences. They also design experiments, develop forecasting models, and prepare summary reports that interpret data correlations.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$52,860

$103,010

$161,900

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Survey Researcher

These professionals rely on statistical expertise to design surveys, collect information, and draw conclusions that enhance organizational outcomes. They often conduct preliminary background research on topics, develop test surveys, interview subjects, and determine sample sizes. Many create new algorithms and use digital tools to help communicate their conclusions.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$32,150

$59,170

$108,860

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Data Scientist

Data scientists work to make sense of data and determine its value for their employer. They rely on statistical theories and quantitative research methods and often use machine-learning tools to help automate processes and facilitate information analysis. Depending on the context, they may develop new analytical tools alongside other experts.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$52,720

$94,280

$158,060

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Market Research Analyst

These professionals combine the skills of survey researchers and statisticians. They monitor marketing trends and make research-based predictions designed to enhance the products and services offered by their employer. They also analyze data, evaluate research tools, and conduct opposition research to better understand competitors.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$34,350

$63,790

$122,630

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Costs and Financial Aid for Statistics Master’s Programs Online

Graduate-level study in any subject can be expensive, and statistics master’s programs online are no exception. The good news is there are plenty of financial aid opportunities out there. Most online statistics master’s programs offer scholarships or other opportunities to incoming students. Many professional organizations also provide support, as do businesses and nonprofits.

It’s important to understand the potential costs of online statistics master’s programs before you begin your studies. As you can see in the table below, tuition rates fluctuate widely depending on the type of school, your enrollment status, and where you live. Once you’ve narrowed your school search, be sure to consult individual programs for the most up-to-date rates.

What Your Online Master’s in Statistics Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

Pennsylvania State University

Master of Applied Statistics

30

$924/credit

$27,720

Stanford University

Statistics MS Degree

45

$1,352/credit

$60,840

Oklahoma State University

Applied Statistics, MS

32

$230/credit (in-state)

$876/credit (out-of-state)

$7,360 (in-state)

$28,032 (out-of-state)

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Statistics Master’s Programs

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in statistics?

The best plan is to consult the specific departments at the schools you’re interested in, because programs often adhere to their own admissions processes and may ask for different components. In general, prospective students should plan to provide the following:

  • A completed application
  • A professional resume detailing relevant work experience
  • Letters of recommendation from past professors, mentors, or supervisors
  • A written personal statement that discusses the student’s interests in the field of statistics, career goals, and fit with the school
  • Recent GRE scores (these could be optional or waived in some cases)

Pay close attention to any course prerequisites. The details may vary, but most online master’s in statistics programs call for coursework in calculus or matrix algebra. If you don’t satisfy these prerequisites up front, then completing your degree could take longer.

How long does it take to complete my master’s in statistics online?

Timeframes for completion will largely depend on you and your circumstances. Many online statistics master’s programs expect full-time students to graduate in one to two years, and some offer accelerated or intensive options to expedite studies. If you have credits to transfer you may be able to reduce your timetable even further. On the other hand, if you study part-time because of work responsibilities, family, or other commitments, completing your degree will take longer.

Can I earn a master’s in statistics completely online?

Unlike other fields that often require in-person components, statistics master’s programs can be completed entirely online. In fact, most online master’s in statistics programs assume that you will do just that. They offer convenient tools to help you study at your own pace and don’t have residency requirements. As mentioned in the program spotlights, some programs offer some immersive, hands-on learning opportunities that take place in person, but these are strictly optional. You won’t have to travel to campus unless you want to.