Frequently Asked Questions
When are terms held?
On August 26, 2013 RIT will move to semesters. The fall and spring semesters will be 15 weeks long. There will be a winter intersession and a 10-week summer session. Please see the Institute Calendar for details on holidays, exams, reading days, and breaks between terms.
Can I start taking classes in any term?
Yes. However, for both the graduate certificate and MS programs,
Fall is the natural entry point. See our
course schedules for more details.
Are your programs theoretical, in the mathematical
Our MS program in Applied Statistics and our advanced, graduate,
certificate program in Statistical Quality are both very
applied, not theoretical. Most of our students have undergraduate
degrees in fields of engineering or science, not mathematics.
We emphasize the application of statistical thinking
and statistical methods.
However, we do provide the theory for the methods,
so that students know when to use, and when not the use,
the methods. So, our courses are theory-based, but not theoretical.
As a result (with the possible exception of a few topics
in our Theory of Statistics sequence), we only cover topics
that we believe are useful in current statistical practice.
I have not yet matriculated. May I start taking
Yes, to a point. For the graduate certificate program, you
may take up to two courses before matriculating. For the
MS program, you may take up to four courses. However, we
strongly recommend you discuss the courses you plan to take
with the chair
If you plan on taking courses in a distance-learning format
and take courses in a
suggested sequence, this should be fine, but we still
suggest you contact the chair.
How many courses can I take each term?
If you are working full time, we usually recommend you only
take one course per term. This is what most students
do in this situation.
Some students take two courses per term. They include
students whose employers gives them one day of release time
each week to devote to school work, and students who can
devote a large portion of their non-working time to their
school work (e.g., highly motivated people who are single).
Also, keep in mind that not all courses (or instructors)
will require the same amount of work. An easier one-course
load one term may encourage you to try two courses in
the next term, but each of these later courses may require
far more work than you anticipated.
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Are GRE scores required?
GRE scores are not required. There are two reasons. First,
our programs do not emphasize research into statistical
methods, but rather the application of such methods.
Second, we don't want to put such an "extra hoop to
jump through" in the application process. We review
the applicant's overall grades, as well as grades in calculus
and other mathematics courses and when these courses were
taken, in order to make recommendations and decisions.
Fundamentals of Statistics I and II (711-712) or equivalent
are prerequisites for many courses. In addition, MS students
should take Principles of Applied Statistics (714) or equivalent
before taking most courses in the MS program.
Can 711, 712 (or 714) be waived based on statistical
experience at work?
No. We have found that most people who use statistics on
their job, but have no academic coursework, do not have
a strong knowledge of the theory and thinking underlying
what they do. This is not meant to be insulting, but rather
just what we have witnessed. The problem is that just about
everyone uses statistics to some extent on their job, but
very few such users have a good understanding of the theory,
good practices, and pitfalls associated with the methods.
For this reason, it is important to take the Fundamentals
of Statistics I and II sequence. Unfortunately, it is impossible
to verify, on a course-by-course basis, which students who
have registered for our other statistics courses have actually
met the prerequisites. As a result, students in some courses
inevitably either withdraw from the course after four or
five weeks (with no refund of their tuition) or finish the
course but earn a poor grade.
There are exceptions. It is possible to challenge the 711
and 712 courses. If you are interested, you should state
this request in your application and your rationale for
it. If these are, in fact, consistent with the material
covered in 711-712, either 711 or 711 and 712 may be challenged.
Each course may be challenged through a 90-minute exam.
There is no option to challenge 714.
I have taken a number of short courses and seminars
in statistics. Can I use this to meet the elementary statistics
requirement? As a substitute for a Design of Experiments
No. You are required to have academic credits. The reason
is simple -- taking a short course or seminar provides
no indication of what you learned. In addition, these usually
do not cover the material in an appropriate depth.
I have earned a Six Sigma Black Belt. Can I use
this to meet the elementary statistics requirment? As a
substitute for a Design of Experiments course?
No, for the same reasons as above.
I have taken an Introduction to Statistics course,
but a number of years ago. Do I still meet this prerequisite?
Technically, yes. But if you are not sure whether you should
take our Introduction to Statistics I and II courses, 711
and 712, then you probably should. Some students take only
the second of the two courses, 712, if they have had a statistics
course a while ago. If you don't live in the Rochester,
NY, area, you may take these courses either through RIT
as online-learning courses, or take equivalent courses at
a local college. In any event, applicants who have taken
only elementary courses in probability and statistics or
who have not taken recent courses in these areas will be
required to take 714, Principles of Applied Statistics.
You don't want to be in the position of taking a course
such as Design and Analysis of Experiments I (801), for
example, and then find you are spending an inordinate amount
of time learning the material in 711/712 as well as 801.
It is important to concentrate your full attention to the
course at hand.
I do not have any university-level calculus, but
I want to pursue the MS degree. What should I do?
You will need to take the calculus courses. This must include
either two semesters, or three quarters, of university-level
calculus. Courses with titles such as "calculus for
technology" or "calculus for business" are
very unlikely to satisfy the requirements.
The courses should be equivalent to RIT's Calculus I, II,
III (1016-281, 282, 283) sequence. Investigate these courses
Mathematics department listing. Please note, however,
that the 281-283 sequence is not available in online learning.
In any event, you must first apply to the MS program. If
you are accepted into the MS program on a contingency basis
based on your need to take calculus, you will be given a
formal set of steps to follow to meet the calculus prerequisites.
While you are taking these courses, it is possible to start
taking courses in our program, if you have the time
to take more than one course at a time. However, if
your objective is to earn a MS degree, we strongly discourage
you from taking any courses in our program until the calculus
(and possibly other) prerequisites have been met.
I have taken one year of university-level calculus,
but years ago. Do I still meet the prerequisites?
This is a difficult issue. If you don't use calculus much
or at all in your job, we suggest two you first apply to
the MS program to see whether you are accepted. If so, see
if the acceptance letter includes a recommendation to review
calculus. The probability field, at least what we cover
in our MS program, uses integration and multiple integration,
including integration by parts, as well as derivatives and
partial derivatives. These are used especially for polynomial
and exponential functions, much less so for trigonometric
functions. Also, see if the acceptance letter includes a
recommendation (or requirement) to take Mathematics for
Statistics (751) before the two Theory of Statistics courses.
The 751 course has a good amount of calculus in it, and
so will help you get up to speed. But it should not be considered
a substitute for reviewing calculus on your own, and it
is definitely not a substitute for the prerequisite calculus
I have an Associates degree and would like to
pursue the advanced certificate program. What should I do?
One requirement for the advanced certificate is a baccalaureate
degree. So you would need to earn the baccalaureate degree
first, and then apply to the advanced certificate program.
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What is your recommendation of course sequencing
for the MS program?
For course sequence in semesters, please click here.
Our broad recommendation is as follows:
- (If needed) Fundamentals of Statistics I and II and
Principles of Applied Statistics.
- Core Courses. A reasonable sequence here, assuming you
take one course per quarter, is:
The Design sequence emphasizes the important of collecting
high-quality data; the Regression sequence addresses more
advanced analysis issues; and the Theory sequence contains
ideas that can be better appreciated after taking several
b) Design of Experiments I
c) Design of Experiments II
d) Regression Analysis I
e) Regression Analysis II
f) Theory of Statistics I
g) Theory of Statistics II
- Career-option courses and elective courses
- Capstone course
These are broad recommendations. Because of scheduling
issues, or because some students take two to four courses
per quarter, it is best for you to map out a course sequence
with your advisor.
I am considering working toward a Ph.D. after I
earn an MS. Can your degree be used toward a Ph.D.?
It depends. Because of its applied nature, our MS program
is designed more to provide what is called a "terminal
MS" rather than an MS toward a Ph.D. However, some
of our MS graduates have earned Ph.D.s and others are working
Our MS degree is not designed to be used toward earning
a Ph.D. in a Department of Statistics -- such departments
will emphasize mathematics per se much more than
we do and so are very unlikely to accept courses from our
applied program. However, a number of our MS graduates have
later earned Ph.D.s in Statistics.
Our MS degree has proven more useful toward earning a Ph.D.
in departments in which statistics is used as an important
tool. This would include departments of Industrial Engineering,
Educational Measurement, and Finance.
Can I earn both the advanced certificate and the
Yes. Also, the six courses required for the advanced certificate
may be applied directly toward the MS degree. However, few
students choose to do this. One reason is that you would
need to apply separately for each program. (You may only
be in one program at a time.) Also, the advanced certificate
is a subset of the MS degree.
However, some students do enroll in the advanced certificate
program first. Later, if they decide to try to earn the
MS degree instead, they contact
the graduate coordinator and request a change of program
(assuming the additional requirements have been met). This
request must be made before the advanced certificate is
earned, however, and does not earn the student the advanced
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Is the degree earned by online learning the same
as the degree earned on-campus?
Most certainly. You would receive a diploma that is identical
to the one received by students who take courses on campus.
We want you to obtain the same knowledge as those students
(or even more, if you work very hard!) In fact, some students
take some courses on campus and other courses in the online-learning
format. There really is no "online-learning degree"
-- some courses are simply offered in an online-learning
You recommend that enrollment in online-learning
courses be restricted to students over 25 years of age with
at least three years of professional employment. Is this
This is a recommendation, not a requirement. The reason
for the recommendation is that online-learning classes,
by their very nature, work best for students who have a
high level of motivation -- we simply used "25 years
of age" as a yardstick. In addition, students with
several years of professional employment will find it easier
to see the value of the material we are teaching, and this
helps motivation and the ability to integrate course material.
I want to see how online learning works. Can I
take a "test drive"?
Well, somewhat. On our web site, we have tried to answer
many general questions
about online learning.
Are all of your courses offered in an online-learning
Almost. The only regular graduate courses that we do not offer
online are 824 (Probability Models), 851 (Nonparametric Statistics),
and 886 (Sample Size Determination).
I don't live near RIT, but I would like to take
some courses that are not in the online-learning format.
How can I take these?
At this point, I'm afraid you can't. The problem is that
instructors very rarely consider having students take a
course for independent study, which is how you would need
to take it. Even for students who can meet regularly with
the instructors, independent study requires a large time
commitment from the instructor. Actually, a number of students
taking courses through online learning would also like to
take the on-campus-only courses. But we simply don't have
the resources here to handle this.
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What kind of statistical software is required?
How do I learn to use it?
Any course using statistical software will include how to
use the software for the specific needs of the course.
We use MINITAB® as the basic software package. It's
easy to use, performs most of what students need to in all
of our programs, and is available at a discount for students.
Students in the MS program are required to take the Statistical
Computing course, which emphasizes SAS® and includes
MINITAB® as well.
Rather than require students to use a certain package,
we simply require that they use a package that can perform
the functions needed for the courses. Packages that will
work for most of our courses (possibly after purchase of
features in addition to the base software) include MINITAB®,
Our programs stress the power of the design and analysis
of experiments -- a friendly yet powerful package that specializes
in this is Design-Expert®.
Excel, while an excellent package, is not a statistical
software package, even with its statistical (Analysis Tool
Pack) add-in. It will not be able to perform the functions
required in many of the courses.
I want to get a copy of MINITAB®. How do I do this?
As a student, you may purchase a copy of MINITAB® at
a greatly reduced price from RIT's bookstore. If you live
in the Rochester area, simply go to RIT's bookstore with
your student ID card. You must specify the platform -- Windows
If you don't live in the Rochester area, simply call the
computer section of the bookstore (585-475-2211) and tell
them you are an online-learning student and want to purchase
MINITAB®. Use a credit card and the bookstore will check
your student number for eligibility. The software will be
shipped (with a small shipping charge) to you.
Please note that you should ask for full version
of MINITAB®, not the student version (which is a
greatly limited subset of the full version).
You could instead buy MINITAB® as a student directly
from Minitab, but our bookstore will likely give you a lower
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