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Prospective Ph.D. Student FAQs

 

In order to protect our campus community and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Statistics Main Office is currently closed to visitors. However, all staff are working remotely and are best reached via email.

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 M-F from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm 

Q: What questions can Rackham help with with?
A: Rackham Admissions can help with questions about:

GRE & GPA for 2020-2021

Q: Is the GRE required for this program?

A: The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required to apply for admission for Fall 2021, due to testing difficulties caused by COVID-19.  Students who have taken GRE may send in their score if they wish.  If a GRE score is submitted, it will be considered as one part of a holistic evaluation of the application. 

Dates and places to take the examination may be obtained from the Educational Testing Service by creating a GRE account.  The University of Michigan code for the GRE is 1839.  The GRE scores are automatically added to applicant records as long as name and birth date can be matched.  Applicants must request that their scores be sent to the University of Michigan using the code above, on the GRE website

Q: Is there a minimum GPA required to apply, and what are my chances of being admitted if I have a low GPA?

A: No. All applications are reviewed and evaluated relative to other applications submitted in the same year. Grades in relevant courses (math, stats, computer science, etc.) are much more relevant than the overall GPA. We do not track GPA averages of applicants. Applicants with relatively low GPAs may be admitted based on other factors.

 

GRE & GPA previous to 2020

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 PhD 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.

 

Academic Background

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.

Admissions Process

Q: For what terms are students admitted to the Department of Statistics?

A: Ph.D. students are admitted for Fall only.

Q: What is the deadline to apply for admission?

A: The deadline for admission is December 15th. For more information, see the Application page.

 

SUBMITTED MATERIALS

Q: May I complete a paper application?

A: All applications must be submitted online.

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. If you believe you qualify for this waiver, please email statsphdprogram@umich.edu at least 10 business days before December 1. Note that receipt of an application fee waiver will not have an effect on an admissions decision.

Q: What if I submitted all my materials but one of my recommenders did not submit their letter by December 15th?

A: The system will still accept letters of recommendation after December 15th 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: Do I send any documents to the Department of Statistics during the application process?

A: No. All documents should be included in your online application. Instructions for submitting transcripts either electronically (preferred) or via mail can be found here. Electronic submission of letters of recommendation is strongly preferred, and instructions for submission can be found here.

Q: Do I need to submit official or unofficial transcripts at the time of application?

A: Applicants should submit current official transcripts to Rackham Graduate School at the time of application. Instructions for submitting transcripts either electronically or via mail can be found here. These should not be sent to the department. If there is anything you wish to explain about your transcript, please do so in the Statement of Purpose.

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.

 

ENGLISH PROFICIENCY TEST

Q: Do I need to take the TOEFL?

A: Non-native speakers of English 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 of your undergraduate education and earned an undergraduate degree at an institution where the language of instruction is English only.

  • You completed all of your graduate education and earned a graduate degree at an institution where the language of instruction is English only. If you completed a Master’s degree that was strictly research and no academic classes, that degree does not meet the exemption. This type of Master’s degree is generally awarded at a non-U.S. institution.

  • You are a current U-M student.

For more information, see the Rackham English Proficiency Requirements on the Rackham website.

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 the Rackham English Proficiency Requirements on the Rackham website.

General Admissions Questions

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 Harvard, University of Washington, Columbia, University of Minnesota, Purdue,  North Carolina State, UC Berkeley, Cornell University, UC Davis, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 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.

Q: Whom can I contact if I have more questions?

A: If you have questions that are not answered here or elsewhere on our website, please reach out statsphdprogram@umich.edu.

Financial Aid

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. Students may be eligible for FAFSA funding; this is outside of the department and does require an additional application.

Program Statistics

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 350 to 400 applications a year, made about 30-40 offers of admission, and enrolled entering classes of about 12-15.

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%.