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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Math Department offers new statistics track

< saying that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians,” Google’s chief economist Hal Varian once told The New York Times. And now, with a new statistics track available to mathematics majors, Carleton students can prepare for one of the most sought after positions in the job market.

This program was introduced in early October due to a “growing interest in statistics offerings here at Carleton,” explained mathematics professor Laura Chihara, who along with Professors Katie St. Clair and Bob Dubrow, designed the statistics option. “We feel this track will be attractive to students interested in the field of statistics as well as to those interested in the interdisciplinary aspects of statistics.”

To satisfy the statistics track within a mathematics major, a student must complete the following coursework: Math 232 (Linear Algebra), Math 236 (Mathematical Structures), Math 245 (Applied Linear Regression), Math 265 (Probability), Math 275 (Introduction to Statistical Inference), Math 315 (Topics in Probability and Statistics), CS 111 (Introduction to Computer Science), 2 math elective courses above the Math 236 level, one of which must be taken outside of the Applied Mathematics area, and a senior comps. Math 321 (Real Analysis I) is recommended for those considering a graduate degree in statistics.

Students are also strongly encouraged to engage in real-world experiences in statistics either through internships involving data analysis, research with a statistician on or off campus, or a comps project that is explicitly statistical in nature. Past comps projects have analyzed real data from companies such as Northwest Airlines and Target Corp.

When considering the coursework, “The requirements for the statistics track are much more restrictive,” admitted student Julie Michelman ’11. “However, for someone interested primarily in statistics and applied math, this track would be a good choice. If you look carefully at the requirements, you notice that it would not be difficult to complete the math major both ways. Even though I am only a junior, by the end of the term, I will have completed the minimum number of classes for the regular math major.”

For Michelman, statistics classes are easier because they do not involve writing lots of proofs. “They focus on learning to choose appropriate probability models, properly employ statistical tests, and use software to perform tests and simulations,” said Michelman. The only limitations she sees are the lack of preparation for graduate pursuits in pure mathematics. However, math majors will be able to discern this difference and plan accordingly.

While the statistics track is only available to math majors, it may encourage other majors that utilize statistics – biology, economics, sociology, political science, and many others – to double major in mathematics. And although after graduation, the student’s diploma simply states “Mathematics major,” the favorable emphasis on statistics will be reflected on grad school or job applications.

According to, statistics is one of the top majors to ensure a job after college. This is because a myriad of companies in a variety of fields, from pharmaceutical agencies to well known names such as Google, are searching for statisticians. And with a doctorate in statistics, one can earn up to $125,000 within their first year on the job.

Statistics professors at Carleton hope that the statistics track program will soon become its own major. Until then, it continues to grow just like the expanding job market for statisticians in the real world.

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