US statistics degrees have more than doubled in last 5 years

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  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 20 September 2013
  • Copyright: Image appears courtesy of iStockPhoto

Marie Davidian, President of the American Statistical Association has announced that the number of students earning bachelor’s degrees in statistical science has more than doubled in the last five years, topping 1,000 for the first time in 2012.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), students applying for Master’s and doctorate degrees in US education institutions have continued to grow, reflecting a growth trend that began ten years ago.

“Most, if not all, of this growing interest in statistics by post-secondary students is being driven by the promise of readily available and well-paying positions in the private and public sectors after graduation, says Davidian, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Statistics at North Carolina State University.

thumbnail image: US statistics degrees have more than doubled in last 5 years

The emerging interest in Big Data and the need for statisticians to manage and comprehend the data has led to fierce competition to the point that many employers are not able to fill all available positions. According to a report by research firm McKinsey Global Institute, it is predicted that the US will need 190,000 professionals with statistical skills to manage the amount of data.

“Students are examining the expected future job market and making an informed decision to study statistics at all levels—beginning at the high-school level in the AP Statistics program and continuing through the doctorate level in our nation’s colleges and universities,” explains Davidian. “These are exciting times to be in the statistical science profession, and we are encouraged that the data show growing numbers of college students will be joining the profession in the near term.”

‘The data from the NCES also reveal a larger percentage of statistics degrees—40% in total—are conferred to women when compared to graduates in many other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. An interesting corollary trend the NCES data revealed is that, in 2012, the number of students earning a master’s degree in statistics is more than double that of those earning a bachelor’s degree—nearly 2,500 versus approximately 1,100’ (ASA press release, 19th September 2013). The press release also points out the potential earnings a statistics major could expect with a survey finding that professionals dealing with Big Data earn an average salary of $90,000.

“This finding suggests that college students who earn a bachelor’s degree in another field of study are choosing to pursue a master’s degree in statistics because of the overwhelming number of career positions expected in the profession and the promising and rewarding careers that will be available to them after they complete their studies,” says Davidian.

A video interview with Professor Davidian will appear online next week.

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