The World's Top Universities to Study Statistics

19/10/20194 minute read
The World's Top Universities to Study Statistics

Statistics by definition is the “collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, as well as the effective communication and presentation of results relying on data”.

Studying statistics can bring forth a variety of opportunities, especially for future career pathways. Even taking one course in statistics gives you a further explanation of the age old saying “correlation does not equal causation”, which is a common theme often seen when analyzing data.

A degree in stat can also improve your decision making, by better understanding probability and chance as well as your ability to construct a scientific and ethical framework which can help you to answer social problems throughout your time at university and in your career.

Stat also equips you with an eye for detail and an overall understanding of all the ways to analyze and interpret research findings.

If you plan to pursue graduate or law school in the future, no matter where you apply, your application will likely ask you to showcase your data analysis skills.

Below we have listed the top 5 universities for pursuing statistics as a major, particularly popular Master’s degree programs in Statistics and Operational Research around the world, according to QS World Rankings.

The top three universities on this list are also ranked as three of the best universities in America according to this year’s US News Rankings.

5. University of Cambridge

Cambridge, England

Centre For Mathematical Sciences Building

The University of Cambridge offers a range of Master’s and PhD programs in statistics including Mathematical Statistics, Strategy, Marketing and Operations, and Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics. The courses range from 9 month programs to 3-4 year full-time courses. They are also offered in different settings, whether it be entirely research or taught, or split 50/50.

The Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics (DPMMS) is one of two Mathematics Departments at the University of Cambridge. The department boasts, 42 staff members, 50 postdoctoral researchers, 80 graduate students and 1000 undergraduates.

4. ETH Zürich

Zürich, Switzerland


The Master of Science in Statistics diploma at Zürich requires 90 total credit points - 60 credits from core and elective courses for statistics/mathematics and a student’s chosen field of application as well as 30 credits from their Master thesis.

The program usually takes 3-4 semesters for students to finish. ‘Tracks’ are not an official part of the degree, but the department suggests students focus their studies in a specific direction. Possible study tracks include: basic, data science, and biostatistics.

This program is an excellent start for future careers in universities, research institutes, pharmaceuticals, insurance, finance, marketing, statistical consulting or data science.

3. Stanford University

Stanford, California

Stanford A 1

The increased exposure of big data in engineering and applied science has generated a massive need for experts in statistics. Thus the birth of the M.S. in Statistics: Data Science, offered at Stanford. This program puts graduates on the right track to develop strong mathematical, statistical, computational and programming skills.

Students are required to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better and classes must be taken at a ‘200 level’ or higher. They also must demonstrate foundational knowledge by completing a variety of core course, data science electives, advanced scientific programming, specialized electives, and other courses related to statistics and data science.

2. Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard F

Students at Harvard who pursue a concentration in statistics are able to better understand complex data by acquiring skills in conceptual, computational and mathematical tools.

Harvard’s graduate program in Data Science aims to develop statisticians not only at the university level, but leaders in medicine, law, finance, technology and government.

The PhD program covers all aspects of statistics including research, teaching and career development. The department encourages research in theoretical and applied statistics. Students will also have the opportunity to work closely with faculty in their research efforts.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts


MIT’s Master’s Degree program in Operations Research teaches important techniques relevant to statistics and data, with an emphasis on practical, real-world applications of data research.

The curriculum includes seven graduate-level courses in optimization, applied probability, and statistics as well as advanced topics in research. Students are required to put their classroom theory into practice by writing a thesis based on independent research conducted under the guidance of a faculty advisor.

After completing this two-year program, students will have the skills to pursue a career in business, education, or research. Many recent graduates also secure jobs as technical staff members in business, government, and private consultancies.