Graduate Student Handbook


    Requirements for Master of Statistics (7LS registration)

    Requirements for Ph.D. Degree

    Qualifying Examination

    Academic Honesty

1   General

1.1  Admission Requirements

For applicants to be successful in the statistics graduate program they should have completed calculus III, have a GRE quantitative score in the mid 700 range and have a GPA of at least 3.00.

Students whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. Students must score at least 80 on the Internet-based, 213 on the Computer-format, or 550 on the Paper-format. However, for students who have attended an accredited U.S. institution for one year or longer, that requirement is waived.

The University of Florida and the Department of Statistics encourage applications from qualified individuals from all cultural, racial, religious, and ethnic groups.

1.2  Proficiency in English

The Department of Statistics at the University of Florida seeks to recruit the best graduate students from all over the world. Often, due to their English skills, first-year international teaching assistants (TAs) cannot be given teaching assignments. These students are typically given grading assignments.

The Department expects that after one academic year in the US, the English skills of the international TAs will be such that they can be given a teaching assignment. However, Florida law and University of Florida Graduate Council policy require international TAs to demonstrate oral proficiency before being appointed to teach. In particular, a score of 55 on the TSE or the SPEAK test permits unrestricted teaching. With a score of 45 or 50, the international TA may teach if concurrently enrolled in EAP 5836. For more details, go to the University of Florida's web pages on Academic Spoken English. International TAs are required to take either the TSE or the SPEAK test by the end of their first academic year. The Department will pay the $60 exam cost up to two times for each student.

1.3  The Graduate Coordinator

The Graduate Coordinator serves as an ombudsman and thereby opens lines of communication between the Graduate School and the student. He/she advises the students concerning the policies of the department and the Graduate School.

2   Requirements for Master of Statistics (7LS registration)

2.1   Minimum Course Requirements

Required Courses:

Course Title Hours
STA 6207 Regression Analysis


STA 6208 Basic Design and Analysis of Experiments


STA 6326 Introduction to Theoretical Statistics I


STA 6327 Introduction to Theoretical Statistics II


STA 6329 Matrix Algebra and Statistical Computing


STA 6246 Theory of Linear Models


Some of the course requirements may be waived if students have taken equivalent course work at another institution.

Master's students are required to complete at least six additional courses, at least four of which must be masters electives offered in the statistics graduate program. Courses taken outside of the department must be approved by the Graduate Program Committee.

A minimum of 36 credit hours are required for the masters degree. Up to eight semester hours of graduate level courses, earned with a grade of B or better, may be transferred from an institution approved for this purpose by the Graduate School.

There is no language requirement or thesis requirement for the M.S. degree.

2.2   Supervisory Committee

Students will be assigned an advisor during their first semester of study. If no minor is elected, advisors will be formally registered with the Graduate School as the only required member of their student's committee. When a minor is designated, committees must include an additional member from the minor department. Students' committees are responsible for conducting the final oral examination (see below), which is normally taken during the second half of the student's last semester of registration. At least three faculty members must be present at the final oral examination. It is the students' responsibility to make sure that their committees are properly registered with the Graduate School.

2.3   Master of Science in Statistics

Students may choose to write a thesis as part of their masters degree program. A student may count up to six thesis credits (STA 6971 Masters Research) towards a masters degree. These credits can be used in place of two elective courses. Students must give copies of their theses to each member of their supervisory committee at least 10 days prior to their oral exam.  The student must be registered for STA 6971 during the final semester of study.

2.4   First Year Examination and First Year Evaluation

The First Year Examination (FYE) will be offered every year in May and, if necessary, again in August. (The only students allowed to take the FYE for the first time in August are new students entering the Statistics Graduate Program.) The FYE will be a 4-hour written exam. Students may use calculators but no "formula sheets" will be allowed. There will be five questions on mathematical statistics (at the level of STA 6326-27) and five questions on applied statistics (at the level of STA 6207-08). Students will be required to do eight out of the ten problems subject to the restriction that they do exactly four mathematical statistics problems and exactly four applied statistics problems. The exam will be written by a faculty committee with input from the rest of the faculty. The purpose of the exam is to make sure students have a good understanding of core statistical methods and theory.

The FYE will be used by the Graduate Program Committee in two different ways for two different types of student:

    A student entering the Statistics Graduate Program with a BS will be required to take the FYE in May (after completing two semesters in the program). The Graduate Program Committee will review the student's performance on the FYE as well as the student's performance in the first year classes and will issue the student one of three "First Year Evaluations":

    • PhD-level Pass: The student has demonstrated fundamental understanding of the MS level material and the Graduate Program Committee believes he/she will be successful in the PhD program. The student is encouraged to go on for a PhD.

    • MS-level Pass: The student has performed adequately in his/her first year and is encouraged to finish the MS program. The Graduate Program Committee does not view the student as a potential PhD candidate and the student will not be admitted into the PhD program. A student desiring admission into the PhD program, but only achieving an MS Pass will be allowed to take the FYE a second and *final* time in August. The Graduate Program Committee will reevaluate the student after the August exam.
    • Fail: The student shows a definite lack of knowledge in basic statistics. In some cases, the student will be offered the opportunity to take the FYE a second and *final* time in August and will be reevaluated after the August exam. In other cases, the student will not be allowed to take the FYE again and will not be allowed to continue in the MS program.

    A student entering the program with an advanced degree will be encouraged to take the FYE immediately upon arrival in August. If the student takes the FYE in August and performs at the PhD Pass level, the student will be encouraged to skip the MS level classes and go straight into the PhD level classes. The student need not take the FYE again. If the student performs at a level lower than PhD Pass, they will be encouraged to take some or all of the 6326-27 and 6207-08 sequences. These students must take the FYE again the following May and will be evaluated as are the students entering the program with a BS.

    If the student entering the program with an advanced degree does not take the FYE in August, he/she may be required to take some or all of the standard MS track classes (STA 6326-27, STA 6207-08, etc.) during the first year and must take the FYE in May after two semesters in the program. The student will be evaluated as are the students entering the program with a BS.

2.5   Final Exam

Students are required to take an oral exam in the semester they plan to graduate. See the Graduate Catalog for deadlines. The oral exam will consist of a presentation by the student on a statistical topic not covered in depth in their regular coursework. The student should consult with their advisor about the choice of a topic, and present a written report on the topic to their Master's Supervisory Committee at least one week prior to their exam date. A typical report should be about 8-10 pages, and is not to exceed 12 pages. During and following the presentation the student's committee may ask questions related to the topic of the presentation. The Master's Supervisory Committee must consist of at least three members of the faculty, including the student's advisor. It is the student's responsibility to set up a date and time for this examination.

2.6   Residence

All work applicable toward the master's degree must be completed during the seven years immediately preceding the date on which the degree is to be awarded. Students must be registered for at least 3 credit hours in the semester in which they plan to take the final oral examination. No more than six semester credit hours may be taken elsewhere.

3   Requirements for Ph.D. Degree

3.1   Permission

As described in Section 2.4, the Graduate Program Committee's decision to admit MS students into the PhD program is part of the "First Year Evalaution."

3.2   Minimum Course Requirements

The following four courses are required for all Ph.D. students.

STA 7466 Probability Theory I
STA 7467 Probability Theory II
STA 7249 Generalized Linear Models
STA 7346 Statistical Inference I

In order to be successful in Probability Theory I & II (STA 7466-7), students must have a solid understanding of Real Analysis, which also goes by the names "Mathematical Analysis" and "Advanced Calculus." The classical textbook on this material is Walter Rudin's "Principles of Mathematical Analysis." Students will not be allowed to register for STA 7466 until they have either (i) completed Modern Analysis I (MAA 5228) or Math Analysis (STA 6934) with a grade of "B" or better, or (ii) passed the Basic Analysis Exam, which is offered annually in mid-August.

Doctoral students are also required to complete at least four additional courses, three of which must be Ph.D. level courses offered by the Department of Statistics.

The Department typically offers at least three of PhD elective courses every year in addition to the core courses. Other courses will be selected by students in consultation with their supervisory committees.

A minimum of 90 credits beyond the bachelor's degree is required for the doctoral degree. Formal course work accumulated by students (beyond the bachelors degree) should be in the neighborhood of 60 credit hours. The remaining hours will be in STA 7979 or 7980 registration.

Students are admitted to Ph.D. candidacy (9LS registration) after passing the qualifying exams. The format of the qualifying exams is described in Section 3 of this document. Students who have not been admitted to Ph.D. candidacy can register for STA 7979. While preparing for Part II of the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam, students may register for STA 7980 in the semester they expect to take and pass the Part II exam.

3.3   Supervisory Committee

Students should define, in consultation with members of the faculty, the area in which they wish to perform research. At least four members of the Graduate Faculty will be required for all new or changed supervisory committees of doctoral candidates. At least three members (including the Chair) must be from the Statistics Department. At least one member must be from a different educational discipline. The committee must be formally filed with the Graduate School after completing the Part I qualifying exam. The responsibilities of the members of the supervisory committee are outlined in the Graduate Catalog.

3.4   Transfer of Credits

Doctoral students may receive 30 semester credits for a master's degree earned in statistics from an accredited American institution of higher education. Acceptance of transfer credits requires approval of the student's supervisory committee, the Graduate Coordinator, and the Graduate School. The supervisory committee should state its recommendation for the transfer of credits in a petition to the Graduate School through the Graduate Coordinator. Supervisory committees may, of course, recommend that no credit or only partial credit be allowed.

Credit for foreign master's degrees will be considered on a case-by-case basis, with each student's academic records receiving a careful evaluation. An official transcript must accompany the supervisory committee's petition requesting acceptance of the degree.

3.5   Final Exam

Students are required to take an oral examination at the end of their Ph.D. programs. In this exam, students will be expected to defend their dissertations and demonstrate substantial knowledge in the area of their research. At least five members of the faculty, including all members of the supervisory committee, must be present during this examination.

3.6   Period of Concentrated Study

Doctoral students must satisfy the minimum requirements for a period of concentrated study, beyond the first 30 hours counted toward the doctoral program, by registering for (a) 30 semester credits in one calendar year, or (b) 32 semester credits in four semesters within a period of two calendar years on the Gainesville campus of the University of Florida. In addition, students must be registered for at least 3 credit hours in the semester in which they take the final oral exam.

3.7   Seminar Presentation

Doctoral students are required to present a seminar on some aspects of their dissertation research. Students have the option of giving a seminar as part of their dissertation defense. The Graduate Coordinator will withhold his/her signature from the Final Examination Form until this requirement is fulfilled.

4   Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination has two parts: Part I and Part II. Part II may be taken only after successful completion of Part I.

The written (Part I) qualifying exam will be offered every year in August and, if necessary, again in January. Students must attempt the Part I qualifying exam by the end of their third year.

4.1   Part I

The objective of the Part I exam is to test the knowledge of basic statistical tools commonly needed to develop a dissertation in statistics. The exam consists of questions from the core PhD courses: STA 6246, STA 7466-67, STA 7249 and STA 7346. Students are not eligible to take the Part I exam until they have completed all the core PhD courses with an average grade no lower than "B."

The examination will be about four hours duration. There will be two questions from each of the four areas (linear models, probability, generalized linear models, and inference). Students will be required to answer six out of the eight problems subject to the restriction that they do at least one from each of the four areas. The faculty will review each student's performance and will issue one of two scores: "Pass" or "Fail". Students who do not pass the Part I exam in two attempts will be suspended from the Ph.D. program and must petition the Graduate Program Committee to remain in the program.

4.2   Part II

The objective of the Part II exam is to test the student's ability to

  • comprehend statistical research literature;
  • write technical material in a style suitable for publication in standard journals of statistics; and
  • to propose new areas for dissertation research.

Students should conduct a thorough literature review of the research area selected for their dissertation and prepare a written report which both summarizes the literature and identifies a well-defined research problem. Students are also expected to present some ideas for solving the research problem in this report. There is no absolute limit on the length of the written report. However, it is suggested that the length be kept modest, say, between 15 and 20 double-spaced pages, excluding references.

The examination shall be administered by a committee of at least four faculty members, including members of the supervisory committee. There will be two phases to this examination. In the first phase, the supervisory committee will examine the written report submitted by the student. If the written report is judged to merit a pass, then the student will be given an oral examination which will also constitute the oral portion of the Ph.D. qualifying examination required by the Graduate School. Students are responsible for scheduling the oral examination, and it is suggested that at least two hours be reserved for this purpose. However, the oral examination should not be scheduled until the written component of the Part II exam has been completed to the satisfaction of the supervisory committee. Students will be recommended as a candidate for the Ph.D. degree to the Graduate School if their performance on the oral examination is judged to merit a pass.

5   Academic Honesty

The Department of Statistics expects students to be honest in all their university work. Students are expected to work alone on class assignments and exams, unless given permission by the instructor to do otherwise. It is the policy of the University that failure to comply with this commitment may result in expulsion from the University. The student should refer to the Graduate Catalog for further information on this policy.