Addition of statistics programs will help SDSU students stand out in the crowd

Katrina Sargent

Katrina Sargent

“Statistics is becoming more important in a lot of industries,” said Dwight Galster, an associate professor of statistics in the Mathematics Department. “More graduates with statistics abilities are in high demand.”

This year, the SDSU Mathematics Department has added new degrees to its graduate and undergraduate programs. They will be available to students beginning in the fall of 2008. These new programs include a Ph.D. in computational sciences and statistics, master’s degree in mathematics with a specialization in statistics, a graduate minor in statistics and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with an emphasis in statistics.

The specialization is designed for math majors who want an emphasis in statistics and uses calculus as a basis for the coursework, said the head of the Mathematics Department, Kurt Cogswell. The minor is designed for non-math majors and has similar material, but it is based on college algebra.

“More fields are being dominated by data, from finance to science to economics,” said Cogswell. Statistical knowledge is needed to tell the meaning of information in these data intensive fields; as a result of this, some non-math majors now need a strong background in statistics.

“A statistics minor is a tremendous credential; it can help differentiate a biology major from other biology majors applying for the same job,” said Cogswell.

According to the American Statistical Association, statistics are used in fields such as astronomy, chemistry, genetics, pharmacology, ecology, forestry and agriculture. They are also used by the government in censuses, law and national defense, as well as in business fields such as marketing and computer science.

Some specific careers include portfolio analyst, business analyst, environmental scientist, pharmaceutical engineer, project manager, quality analyst and software engineer.

The additional opportunities to study statistics complement SDSU President David Chicoine’s research goals.

“Scientific research, business and finance rely heavily on an understanding of advanced statistical analysis techniques. Science and technology based economic growth demands a strong graduate program in statistics to provide the advanced statistical support those sectors require,” said Chicoine in a South Dakota Board of Regents press release.

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook put out by the Department of Labor, employment of statisticians is expected to increase nine percent from 2006 to 2016.

“The use of statistics is widespread and growing. Statistical models aid in decision making in both private industry and government. There will always be a demand for the skills statistical modeling provides,” said the handbook.

Biostatisticians are also expected to see an employment increase because of the increase in pharmaceutical business. Statistics related fields such as actuarial sciences and personal financial advisors are expected to grow 24 and 41 percent, respectively.