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Prospective Ph.D. Student FAQs

Q: What questions can the department help me answer?

A: Check with the graduate program for questions about:

  • Letters of recommendation
  • The application requirements, including deadlines (see below)
  • Status of your application’s review 
    • All decisions will be made by April 15th
  • All decisions will be sent to the e-mail address listed on your application
    • Please notify the department of e-mail address changes and update your wolverine access profile. 
  • The department is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Q: What questions can Rackham help with with? 

A: Rackham Admissions can help with questions about:

Q: For what terms are students admitted to the Department of Statistics?
A: Ph.D. students are admitted for Fall only.

Q: May I complete a paper application?
A: All applications must be submitted online.

Q: What is the deadline to apply for admission?
A: The deadline for admission is December 31st. For more information, see the Application page.

Q: Can the application fee be waived?
A: In some circumstances, you may be able to apply for a fee waiver from Rackham; see details here. Additionally, a limited number of fee waivers are available from LSA for US citizens or permanent residents who meet RMF eligibility criteria, on a first come, first served basis. If you believe you qualify for this waiver, please email stat-grad-coordinator@umich.edu at least 10 business days before December 1.

Q: What if I submitted all my materials but one of my recommenders did not submit their letter by December 31st?

A: The system will still accept letters of recommendation after December 31st, and if your application is complete apart from the letters, we will still consider it. However, if there are missing letters at the time your application is reviewed by the committee, it will reduce your chances for admission. Please make every effort to have your recommenders send their letters on time.  

Q: Is there a minimum GPA or GRE score required to apply?
A: No. All applications are reviewed and evaluated relative to other applications submitted in the same year. Applicants with relatively low GPAs may be admitted based on other factors (e.g. GRE scores, research accomplishments, etc.). Also, grades in relevant courses (math, stats, computer science, etc.) are much more relevant than the overall GPA. Conversely, applicants with low GREs may be admitted based on other factors. No single measure plays a deciding role in the admissions process.

Q: What are the average GRE scores for Applied Master applicants?
A: We do not keep track of GRE averages.

Q: How long are GRE scores valid?
A: GRE scores are valid for 5 years.

Q: Do you require both General GRE scores and the Advanced Math Subject score?
A: Only General GRE scores are required. The Advanced Math Subject score is not required.

Q: Do I need to take the TOEFL?
A: Non-native speakers have to take the TOEFL or IELTS unless English was the official language of instruction at the institution where they received their undergraduate degree. Applicants can qualify for an exemption from taking an English proficiency examination if one of the following criteria are met:

  • You are a native speaker of English.
  • You completed all four years of your undergraduate education at an institution in the United States and earned a degree from that institution.
  • You completed all of your undergraduate education and earned an undergraduate degree in one of the following countries, Australia, English speaking Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom.
  • You completed all of your undergraduate education and earned an undergraduate degree at an institution where all classes are taught exclusively in English.
  • You completed all of your graduate education, a minimum of two years duration, and earned a graduate degree in one of the following countries, the United States, Australia, English speaking Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or the United Kingdom. Graduate education includes Master's, Ph.D., and professional degrees. Graduate degrees that are exclusively research based are excluded.
  • Current U-M student. 

Q: How long are TOEFL scores valid?
A: TOEFL scores are valid for 2 years. We accept TOEFL scores expiring in late fall or early winter as long as the official report from ETS is received before the deadline.

Q: What is the minimum TOEFL score required?
A: The minimum TOEFL total score required is 84 on the Internet based test.

For more information, see Required Tests for Non-native English Speakers on the Rackham Website.

Q: My TOEFL score is below the minimum, but I have other evidence of English proficiency. Will my application be considered?
A: The only acceptable evidence of English proficiency is a score on a University-approved English test see Required Tests for Non-native English Speakers on the Rackham Website. If your score is below the minimum required by the University, your application will be automatically rejected. The department cannot waive this requirement.

Q: Do I send Official Transcripts to the Department?
A: No, scanned copies of official transcripts should be uploaded with the application online. Official transcripts from degree-granting institutions only should be mailed directly to Rackham Admissions; see Instructions for Submitting Transcripts. Use the Academic Records/Transcript Submission Form to submit your official transcript so that it is quickly associated with your application. Be sure to include your University of Michigan ID number on all documents. If there is anything you wish to explain about your transcript, please do so in the Statement of Purpose.

Q: Do all admitted Ph.D. students receive funding?
A: Yes. We offer guaranteed financial support for 5 years in the Ph.D. program to all admitted Ph.D. students, provided they remain in good standing. The financial support comes in the form of Graduate Student Instructorships (GSI), Graduate Student Research Assistantships (GSRA), and fellowships. All forms of support include a stipend, a tuition waiver, and benefits. First year students are typically supported by GSIships and fellowships.

Q: Do I need to fill out a separate application to be considered for funding?
A: No. All Ph.D. applicants are automatically considered for funding.  

Q: Must all of the letters of recommendations be academic?
A: No, but the majority should be academic. All recommendations should address your ability and potential for Ph.D. studies in statistics.

Q: Do I need to specify the faculty member I want to work with for my Ph.D. in my application?
A: No. Typically, students do not need to choose their thesis advisor until their second year in the program.

Q: On average, how many students apply and are admitted to the Ph.D. program?

A: The number of students admitted to the Ph.D. program varies from year to year. In recent years, on average, we have received about 300 applications a year, made about 30-40 offers of admission, and enrolled entering classes of about 10–14.

Q: If I am denied admission to the Ph.D. program can I be considered for the Applied Master's program? 

A: Yes, on the Ph.D. application you can indicate that you want your application to be considered for the Applied Master's program if you are not admitted.

Q: What is the percentage of international students in the Ph.D. program?
A: It varies from year to year, and averages out to about 60–70%.  

Q: What academic background do the students in the Ph.D. program come from?
A: The majority of our Ph.D. students come from mathematics, statistics, electrical engineering, and computer science majors, but some also come from economics, sociology, and marketing. Most Ph.D. students enroll immediately after completing their undergraduate or Master’s degree, but we also have some students who return to school after a few years of working in industry.

Q: What are the prerequisites needed to apply to the program?
A: As a general rule, a good background in calculus and linear algebra and some courses in probability and statistics are the prerequisites. A course in real analysis is also very useful, as are good computing skills. However, we evaluate each application from all angles and strengths in a particular area can compensate for lack of preparation in others. Students also have the opportunity to take some prerequisites in their first year of study if they did not take them as undergraduates.

Q: How many years does it take to complete the Ph.D. program?
A: Most students take 5 years to complete their Ph.D., although it is possible to do it in 4 years.

Q: What do the graduates of the Ph.D. program do after they graduate?
A: About half of our graduates go on to tenure-track faculty positions in peer institutions, many immediately after graduation and some after postdocs. In recent years, we have had students go on to jobs at HarvardUniversity of WashingtonColumbiaUniversity of MinnesotaPurdue,  North Carolina State, and other well established universities both in and outside the U.S.. Other Ph.D. graduates go on to jobs in research labs, government, and industry, particularly in finance and technology companies.