Dept Information

Statistical Science at SMU

The Department of Statistical Science, located in the Heroy Building in the North end of the campus, provides students with an education in the science of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data. Because data impact all areas of learning, statistics is truly an interdisciplinary science. It is an excellent double major or minor. The department has a long and distinguished record as a graduate department. The graduate programs integrate both theory and practice. They provide a strong theoretical foundation through coursework in mathematics and probability and educates students in the intricacies of the practice of statistics through courses with an applied orientation augmented by hands-on experience in statistical consulting and computing.

Highlights: The curriculum is designed to serve students seeking careers in industry, government and business, as well as those preparing for graduate study in statistical science. Professional statisticians with either undergraduate or graduate degrees are in demand. Government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, industries, banking firms, automobile manufacturers, and many other employers have formed statistical service units within their companies. Careers in statistics can be financially rewarding and intellectually challenging, can provide exciting opportunities to work in state-of-the-art technological areas and with a variety of interesting people, and can offer interaction with others in formulating decisions of major local, national, or global importance. The faculty is distinguished. Students will be taught by professors at the forefront of exciting new vistas opening up in the field and will benefit from the experiences of faculty consultants to industry, government, and business.

A Nationally Recognized Faculty

The 10 faculty members of the Department of Statistical Science are prominent scholars, researchers, and consultants, as well as dedicated teachers.

Four have been honored with the title of Fellow of the American Statistical Association. Three members serve as editors or associate editors of statistical journals, and five have published one or more books on statistical topics.

All are actively engaged in research which is being published in professional journals. Their research has been funded by major grants from private organizations and governmental agencies, including the Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Department of Education, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the National Institutes of Health, Department of Veteran Affairs, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Students have the opportunity to pursue common interests with faculty members through informal discussions and joint research activities.

Dynamic Faculty-Student Interaction

The faculty-to-graduate student ratio in statistics is only about 1:2.5. In keeping with a long-standing SMU tradition, all statistics faculty, including senior professors and researchers, teach undergraduate and graduate classes and regularly present seminars.

Students in the program are encouraged to interact with the faculty and each other. To facilitate this, all graduate students are provided with offices within the department. Faculty offices are located across the hall and an informal faculty "open-door" policy is the rule rather than the exception.

Weekly seminars within the department expose students to research efforts by other students, faculty members, and departmental visitors. The seminars also are a forum for discussing statistical topics not covered in regular courses.

Center for Statistical Consulting

The Center provides graduate students with invaluable practical experience in learning how to solve statistical problems, perform as consultants, and communicate with clients. Students assist on- and off-campus researchers in actual - not simulated - research projects involving statistical data collection and analysis.

Because mastering these skills is so essential, all graduate students must take at least one consulting course, unless they have prior consulting experience.

A Superb Library Collection

SMU's Science Library has one of the most extensive collections of statistical literature in the Southwest, including more than 150 statistics and mathematics journals and all major abstracting services. Students have open-stack access. The Don Owen Library, located within the department, has more than 500 key reference books on statistics and a collection of over 20 statistics journals.

Excellent Computer Facilities

Because computers are indispensable tools in statistical analysis, the statistics department has its own computer lab where graduate students can complete course assignments, conduct research projects, and complete consulting assignments.

The department computer lab contains several workstations and personal computers. These all have high-speed internet connections to other campus computers, and state, regional, national and international networks. These networks provide access to electronic mail, national super-computer centers, worldwide library collections, and specialized databases.

The lab also is supported by a variety of software such as the statistics packages S-Plus, SAS, SPSS, IMSL, Matlab, and graphics and word processing programs.

Professional Enrichment Activities

In addition to department-sponsored weekly seminars, students have the opportunity to attend monthly meetings of the North Texas Chapter of the American Statistical Association (ASA). Students can hear an outstanding array of speakers from academia, business, and industry, and they can network with professional statisticians in the area.

The Southern Regional Council on Statistics promotes the improvement of postsecondary education in statistical science.  About 40 member graduate programs coordinate a Summer Research Conference for which there are student fellowships.