Feb 24, 2024  
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2021-2022 
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2021-2022 [-ARCHIVED CALENDAR-]

Statistics, M.Sc.

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Areas of Specialization

With the approval of the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies, students in the Master Program in Statistics have the opportunity to specialize in the areas of:

  • Medical Statistics (Biostatistics)
  • Applied Statistics
  • Statistical Theory
  • Applied Probability

A variety of elective courses will be available to cater to individual interests. All students will be required to complete core courses on the foundations of statistics. Students interested in a particular application area may receive graduate credit for certain courses given in other departments.

Although a student with a good undergraduate background in statistics should be able to complete the requirements for the M.Sc. degree in one calendar year of study, it is expected that some students will require longer. Students entering the program after receiving an undergraduate degree in science or engineering with minimal preparation in statistics may be required to take some background courses. Students with a good undergraduate background in statistics may want to study statistics as applied to a particular application area. These students will be required to take courses outside of statistics to become familiar with the application area of interest. For example, a program in medical statistics would involve taking courses in health research methodology. Students will also be expected to develop their report-writing and presentation skills and become familiar with the use of statistical packages on microcomputers and workstations.

The particular areas of specialization to be emphasized in the program will be those in which the faculty members have special expertise. Statistics faculty drawn from five different faculties and schools make this program uniquely interdisciplinary. Since several of the faculty are biostatisticians in the Health Sciences Centre, one of the major areas will be health and medical statistics. Students specializing in this area will learn the various issues involved in the conduct of large multi-centre clinical trials, and the methods for analyzing survival data and multi-dimensional contingency tables. These students will interact closely with their peers enrolled in the Health Research Methodology Program, and will take courses in medical sciences. Through thesis work supervised by members of the biostatistics faculty, they will have opportunities to gain experience in statistical consulting in a health sciences context.

Students who do not wish to specialize exclusively in health and medical statistics, but rather in a broader area of applied or theoretical statistics, may obtain training in one or more of the following areas: stochastic processes, distribution theory, environmetrics, time series analysis, stochastic models in biology, statistical methods in genetics, economics, nonlinear models, applied statistics, order statistics, reliability, analysis of censored data, the booststrap and other resampling methods, non-parametric methods, comparative inference, and quality control. Our Research Data Centre, a Statistics Canada unit at McMaster, holds large real-life data sets from longitudinal surveys that are suitable for statistical analyses for theses and other research projects. Students interested in business or industrial applications may arrange to do their thesis work off-campus.

The Graduate Program in Statistics is subject to all existing University regulations and specifically to the general regulations governing Master’s degrees as established by the School of Graduate Studies and set out near the front of this Calendar. Either a full-time or a part-time program of study may be undertaken.

A. Admission Standards

B.A. or B.Sc. honours degree, B+ standing, or equivalent, with a good background in statistics and mathematics. Students with a degree in engineering, science, health sciences, or social sciences will enthusiastically be considered, provided they have a B+ average with sufficient mathematics and statistics background. Students coming from other areas may be required to take additional undergraduate courses to make up any deficiencies.

B. Program Requirements

Students can earn the M.Sc. degree following one of the options below. In both options students can take up to two 600-level courses to fulfill their graduate course requirements. All Master statistics students entering the program are required to take the zero credit statistics seminar course STATS 770 .  In addition, the following requirements apply to students in different options. 

Thesis Option

Students choosing the Thesis Option are required to complete six one-semester graduate courses (consisting of three compulsory and three elective courses) and a thesis. Equivalent in work to two one-semester courses, the thesis is written under the supervision of a faculty member of the program in a topic of mutual interest to student and supervisor. The degree requirements are normally completed in four academic terms.

Coursework Option

The Coursework Option requires completion of eight one-term graduate courses (consisting of four compulsory and four elective courses). The degree requirements are normally completed in two or three academic terms.

C. Examinations

No examinations will be required except as stipulated by individual instructors in individual courses.

D. Thesis

For those in the Thesis Option, a thesis will typically be 50 to 150 pages in length, exclusive of tables, graphs and appendices, written and bound in the usual format for a thesis. Standard statistical analyses applied to a novel application, or original contributions to statistical methodology with adequate presentation of background material will be acceptable thesis work. Students will be required to defend their theses orally.


Required Courses

 In the Statistics Program, there are required, elective, and special topics courses. Required courses cover the basic theoretical concepts that are considered essential for all students. Another required course develops a broad knowledge of statistics through attendance at research seminars as well as report-writing skills through critical written reviews of the seminars. The elective courses are traditional statistics courses covering a sufficient variety of topics to offer students a choice based upon their individual interests. Approved courses from other graduate programs may be taken as elective courses for graduate credit.

Medical Statistics

Students concentrating in Medical Statistics will be required to take courses in Health Research Methodology, such as:

Addtional Information

Some Medical Sciences courses have prerequisites and limited enrolment, so students should contact the Health Research Methodology Program office at ext. 27718 before registering. Special topics courses are intended to be highly flexible and vary from year to year. They are usually offered in the areas of specialization of individual faculty members.

Graduate/Undergraduate Courses

Graduate students taking the following combined graduate/undergraduate courses for graduate credit will be required to do more work than undergraduates in the same class. The additional work may include a project, an essay, a class presentation, or a more difficult examination, at the discretion of the instructor. For the M.Sc. in Statistics, at most two 600-level courses may be taken for graduate credit. The following 600-level courses are available for the Statistics Program.

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