Frequently Asked Questions
When are terms held?
Fall semester starts in late August, Spring semester in late January, and each are 15 week terms. The summer semester is a 10 week term. 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 advanced certificates and MS programs, Fall is the natural entry point.
Are your programs theoretical, in the mathematical sense?
Our MS program in Applied Statistics and our advanced certificate programs are both applied, not theoretical. We emphasize the application of statistical thinking and statistical methods.
However, we do provide enough theory, so that students know when to use, and when not the use, the methods that we teach. 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), our aim is to cover topics that we believe are useful in current statistical practice.
I have not yet matriculated. May I start taking courses anyway?
We strongly recommend you apply to our program first. However, for the advanced certificate programs, you may take one course before matriculating. For the MS program, you may take up to two courses before matriculating. If you decide to do this, we strongly recommend you discuss the courses you plan to take with the chair of CQAS.
How many courses can I take each term?
Graduate students who are full time typically take 3 classes a semester. 9 credits is considered full time for a graduate student.
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 give them some release time each week to devote to school work, and students who can devote a large portion of their non-working time to school work.
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.
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 toward them.
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, in fact, 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.
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. However, GRE scores may be beneficial for some students.
Can the one course in probability and statistics 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.
I have taken a number of short courses and seminars in statistics. Can I use this to meet the elementary statistics requirement?
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 requirement?
No, for the same reasons as stated above.
I have taken a Probability and 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 retake such a course, then you probably should.
You don't want to be in the position of taking a course such as STAT 741 Regression, for example, and then find you are spending an inordinate amount of time learning basic statistics material in as well as the 741 material. 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 Project-Based Calculus I and II (MATH-181, 182) or Calculus I, II, III (MATH-171, MATH-172, MATH-173) sequence. Investigate these courses in the Mathematics department course listing.
In any event, you should 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 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 to retake a calculus course before the two Theory of Statistics courses.
I have an Associate’s degree and would like to pursue the advanced certificate program. What should I do?
The 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.
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 statistical needs of the course. The instructor will likely assume that you can read in and (to a simple extent) reshape the data to use the statistical parts of the software correctly.
MINITAB® may be used as the basic software package in some courses. It's easy to use, performs most of what students need to do in some courses, and is available for free students.
MS students are required to take the 611 Statistical Software course, which emphasizes SAS® and R.
Rather than require students to use a certain package, some instructors may require that they use a package that can perform the work needed for the course. In that case, packages that will work for most work in many of our courses include MINITAB®, SAS®, JMP®, R, S-PLUS®, and Statistica®. Other instructors may require that certain software be used, or that it be used by our MS students.
I want to get a copy of MINITAB, R, and SAS. How do I do this?
As an RIT student, you can download Minitab annually for free from https://www.rit.edu/its/services/software_licensing/#minitab. R is free software, available at http://www.r-project.org/. Click on CRAN, and follow the links. SAS is not available for free; however, a version of it that runs on the SAS cloud is available to students for free. The instructor for a course will provide you with information on how to access this version.