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College of Letters & Science


Requirements for the Major
Honors in the Major

Room 1220 MSC, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-2598; office@stat.wisc.edu; www.stat.wisc.edu

Professors Yandell (Chair), Chappell, Clayton, Larget, Loh, Keles, Newton, Nordheim, Qian, Shao, Tsui, Wahba, Y. Wang, C. Zhang, Z. Zhang, Zhu; Associate Professors Ané,  S. Wang; Assistant Professors Hanlon, Raskutti, Rohe.

Undergraduate advisors for the major:
Rick Nordheim, 1110 MSC, 608-263-5812, nordheim@stat.wisc.edu
Kevin Packard, 1214 MSC, 608-263-3615, packard@stat.wisc.edu
Gina Benninger, 1217A MSC, 608-262-7478, ginab@stat.wisc.edu

Faculty diversity liaison: Contact department office. 

Modern statistics is an exciting subject that affects most aspects of modern living. It has been developed to deal rationally and objectively with the uncertainty that accompanies variation in phenomena as highly complex as the interplay of the many factors that affect our environment. It derives vitality in coping with practical problems arising in all fields of scientific activity, including the social, business, biological, agricultural, medical, natural, and engineering sciences. Investigators' efforts to learn about a specific phenomenon, be it the response of a patient to a certain medical treatment or the effectiveness of a particular instructional program on a student's learning, are impacted by the presence of natural variation. The field of statistics is concerned with valid and efficient ways to learn more about these phenomena in the presence of such variation. It is an inductive science in which information is extracted from sample data in order to draw inferences. This process most often involves planning experiments or designing studies to ensure that valid answers to questions are obtained from the sample.

Requirements for the Major

In addition to the general degree requirements, a major in statistics must complete (1) A through G, and (2) either Option 1 or Option 2 below. Each course in A must be completed with grades of C or higher):

A. Calculus

Math 221 (5 cr), Math 222 (4 cr), and Math 234 (4 cr) (see note 1)

B. Linear algebra

Math 340 (3 cr) or Math 341 (3 cr) (see note 1)

C. Computer programming

Comp Sci 302 (3 cr) or Comp Sci 412 (3 cr) or Comp Sci 525 (3 cr)

D. Introductory statistics and basic statistical language

Stat 302 Accelerated Introduction to Statistical Methods (3 cr)
Stat 327 Introductory Data Analysis with R (1 cr)

E. Linear statistical models

Stat 333 Applied Regression Analysis (3 cr)
Stat 424 Statistical Experimental Design (3 cr) 

F. Mathematical statistics

Stat 309 Introduction to Probability and Math. Statistics I (3 cr) or
Stat 311 Introduction to Theory and Methods of Math. Statistics I (3 cr) or
Math 431 Introduction to the Theory of Probability (3 cr)


Stat 310 Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics II (3 cr) (see note 2)

G. Statistics electives (a minimum 9 credits from the courses listed below)

Stat 349, 351, 411, 421, 456, 471, 479 (see note 3), 575, 641, or other Statistics Department courses as approved by the major advisor. (see note 4)

In addition, a major in statistics must complete either Option 1 or Option 2:

Option 1 (Mathematics option)

Students intending to pursue graduate study in statistics are strongly advised to take more math classes than the minimum requirements. Linear algebra and real analysis are typically the most important areas of mathematics needed for graduate study in statistics.

At least 6 additional credits from the following courses:
Math 421 The theory of single variable calculus (3 cr)
Math 443 Applied linear algebra (3 cr)
Math 475 Introduction to combinatorics (3 cr)
Math 514 Numerical Analysis (3 cr)
Math 521 Analysis I (3 cr)
Math 522 Analysis II (3 cr)
Math 541 Modern algebra (3 cr)
Math 605 Stochastic methods for biology (3 cr)
Math 629 Introduction to measure and integration (3 cr)
Math 632 Introduction to stochastic processes (3 cr)

OR other courses above Math 300 as approved by the major advisor.

Option 2 (Area of application option)

At least 12 credits of coursework at the 300 level and higher in an area of application of statistical methods as approved by the student's major advisor. This area of application can represent study areas where statistical methods are applied, such as in the natural and social sciences and engineering. This requirement can often be met by the completion of a major in such a study area.

All students must fulfill the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. Courses that count toward this requirement are any statistics course numbered above Stat 302 excluding Stat 324, 371, 441, 571, and 572.


  1. An acceptable equivalent for all four of the required mathematics courses is Math 275, 276, 375, and 376. Math 275 and 276 are acceptable equivalents for Math 221 and 222, respectively. Math 211 and 213 are NOT acceptable equivalents for Math 221, 222, and 234. (Students who have completed Math 211 and 213 are encouraged to take the Department of Mathematics’ Calculus Exam to determine placement in the Math 221–222–234 sequence).
  2. Stat 312 will not be accepted in lieu of Stat 310.
  3. Stat 479 (Special Topics in Statistics) can be repeated for elective credit when enrolled for different topics.
  4. Up to 3 credits of Stat 699 can count toward these 9 credits. No course identified in Option 1 of the major can count towards these 9 credits

Honors in the Major

To be considered for acceptance into Honors in the Major in Statistics, a student must have completed Stat 302, 309 and 333 with a grade point average of 3.3 or higher. Listed below are the requirements for Honors in the Major in Statistics.

  1. The student must successfully complete all the requirements for the major in statistics.
  2. The student must complete all L&S requirements for Honors in the Major.
  3. At the time of graduation, the student must have a grade point average of 3.3 or higher in statistics department courses and also in all courses taken at UW–Madison.
  4. The student must complete at least 2 courses from major requirement (G) for “Honors” credit using courses other than Stat 699.
  5. The student must complete the Stat 681–682 sequence (6 cr) and produce a Senior Honors Thesis under the supervision of a member of the faculty of the Department of Statistics. A list of faculty members in statistics who have expressed interest in supervising Senior Honors Theses can be found on the department website.

This page was updated 9/14/15.