Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy in statistics is designed to prepare students for careers in teaching and research universities, industry or government. Students, through courses and other experiences, will develop facility in theoretical statistics and in several areas of application. Choices in electives allow the program to be designed to suit a variety of career interests.

Admission Requirements

A student may enter this program with a master’s degree or, for strong candidates, directly upon completion of a bachelor’s program. The degree should be in statistics or a closely related field. In addition to satisfying the general admission requirements of the Graduate College, the student must have acquired a sufficient level of mathematical training with satisfactory grades as determined by the Statistics Doctoral Committee. Mathematics coursework includes, but is not necessarily limited to, a complete calculus sequence and a linear algebra course. Upon entrance to the program students are expected to meet with an advisor who will assist with developing a plan of study until the student reaches the stage of candidate when all preliminary exams are passed.


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Program Requirements

Departmental Graduate Examination in Statistics

Prior to admission or during the first year, students must pass the Departmental Graduate Examination in Statistics at the doctoral level. This consists of two, three-hour exams in the areas of theoretical statistics (calculus-based mathematical statistics and probability) and applied statistics (regression and design of experiments). At WMU, this exam covers material in the courses STAT 6500, 6600, 6620, and 6640. The DGE is given once a year, usually in May during the first week of the summer I session.

Acquire at least 60 hours of course work

  • At least 30 credits must be earned at WMU.
  • Students admitted to the program with a master's degree in statistics or a closely related field may receive credit for as many as 30 of the 60 required hours.
  • Up to six credit hours in approved areas related to statistical applications (e.g., computer science, computational or applied mathematics, engineering, biological science, management or economics) may be substituted as electives upon approval of the Statistics Doctoral Committee.

Core courses

  • STAT 6500: Statistical Theory (four hours)
  • STAT 6600: Statistical Inference I (four hours)
  • STAT 6620: Applied Linear Models (three hours)
  • STAT 6640: Design of Experiments I (three hours)
  • STAT 6800: SAS Programming (three hours)

Doctoral Preliminary Examination courses

  • STAT 6610: Multivariate Statistical Analysis (three hours)
  • STAT 6630: Linear Models (three hour)
  • STAT 6650: Statistical Inference II (three hours)
  • STAT 6660: Nonparametric Statistical Theory (three hours)
Electives at the 6000 Level
  • STAT 6670: Introduction to Random Processes (three hours)
  • STAT 6680: Categorical Data Analysis (three hours)
  • STAT 6690: Studies in Probability and Statistics (three hours)
  • STAT 6810: Survival Data Analysis (three hours)
  • STAT 6830: Robust Statistical Analysis (three hours)
  • STAT 6840: Design of Experiments II (three hours)
  • STAT 6850: Applied Data Mining (three hours)
Note: A minimum of 21 hours must be 6000-level electives. STAT 6910, 6960 and 6990 may be substituted as electives with prior approval of the Statistics Doctoral Committee.
Electives at the 5000 Level
  • STAT 5610: Applied Multivariate Statistical Methods (three hours)
  • STAT 5630: Sample Survey Methods (three hours)
  • STAT 5650: Design of Experiments for Quality Improvement (three hours)
  • STAT 5660: Nonparametric Statistical Methods (three hours)
  • STAT 5820: Time Series Analysis (three hours)
Note: No more than nine hours of 5000-level electives can be applied to the program of study.

Three preliminary examinations

You must pass preliminary examinations in Multivariate/Linear Models (STAT 6610 and 6630) and in Statistical Inference (STAT 6650 and 6660). The third exam is satisfied by completion of project reports in an area to be chosen, with the approval of the Statistics Doctoral Committee, from two advanced statistics courses. Two failures on the same examination will result in dismissal from the program. You are expected to take the preliminary examinations as soon as they become eligible. Failure to do so can result in a failed attempt.

Competency in two research tools

In accordance with the requirements of the Graduate College, you are required to attain competence in two approved research tools. Normally, in statistics, these will consist of demonstrated competence in computer usage or a foreign language. Competence in computer usage can be demonstrated by obtaining a satisfactory grade in STAT 6800 or an equivalent statistics course. Competence in a foreign language can be demonstrated by passing a reading course at the 4000-level in that language or by translating from a language other than English a statistical paper to the satisfaction of the Statistics Doctoral Committee. A third option for a research tool is a cross-disciplinary research experience involving concepts and language of a discipline other than statistics (e.g., biology, chemistry or engineering) and resulting in documentation of your competence in the other discipline in a form of written reports or published papers. The Statistics Doctoral Committee shall determine the acceptability of the cross-disciplinary research experience.


Complete and defend your dissertation before your dissertation committee. This requires at least 15 hours of the following course:

  • STAT 7300: Doctoral Dissertation (15 hrs)

See Graduate College forms and resources.

Administration and Procedures

This program will be administered by the Statistics Doctoral Committee. This committee will be responsible for the scheduling, preparation, and grading of preliminary examinations in statistics and for arranging a Thesis Proposal Defense.

Each year the Statistics Doctoral Committee will review your progress. If you are not making satisfactory progress, you may be dropped from the program. Grades, performance on preliminary exams, the schedule of completed classes and exams, general progress towards completion of the degree, as well as possible other criteria will be considered in this decision. As an example, course grades below a B are undesirable and could be grounds for dismissal from our program or loss of department funding.

Chronological progression of the program

  1. Upon acceptance to the doctoral program in statistics, you will be expected to meet with a doctoral academic advisor annually for the purpose of developing and updating your program of study until you reach the status of candidate.
  2. During the first semester of study, complete the on-line plan of study form and arrange to meet with your academic advisor for approval. Selection of preliminary exams and research tools should also be decided upon and noted on this form.
  3. You are required to take preliminary exams at the first opportunity after the necessary course work is completed. Failure to take the exam when scheduled will result in a failed attempt. Preliminary makeup exams are scheduled in August. Two failures, on the same preliminary examination, will result in dismissal from the program.
  4. During the semester in which you attain the status of candidate, you will meet with the doctoral committee to select a dissertation advisor. You and your dissertation advisor will select the dissertation committee which will assign an initial research topic for the candidate. In each of the above situations final appointment is subject to the approval of the department chairperson as well as the Graduate College.
  5. You must also pass a Dissertation Proposal Defense, which is an oral presentation of a thesis proposal to your dissertation committee. This normally takes place at the end of the first year after passing all three preliminary examinations.