Statistics is the science of collection, organization, analysis, and explanation of data. The field offers many opportunities for people who enjoy interpreting the world in quantitative ways using numbers, surveys, and computers. In this field, methods are developed and used to explain quantitative patterns observed in the social, physical, and natural sciences and in business and industry. The following is a summary of the Master of Science degree requirements in statistics.


The MS degree has been very successful in preparing candidates for careers in industry and government. The MS is broadly based with course work in statistical methodology, probability theory, mathematical statistics, and linear statistical models as well as a selection of courses from stochastic processes, time series, sampling, multivariate analysis, statistical computing, and other areas.

CSU’s MS program is our `academic-track’ master’s degree. Because it is also a building block toward our PhD program, its courses not only provide introduction to statistical methods and techniques but also provide the theoretical background necessary for further PhD work. Students interested in a more applied program should consider our Applied Statistics Program.


The undergraduate major of a prospective student is not important. Students are required to have had at least three semesters of calculus, a course in linear algebra, and at least one proof-based mathematics course such as real analysis. Additional background that is useful but not required for admission: Upper division statistics courses and experience in at least one computer programming language.

Course Requirements

In addition to meeting the course requirements below, an MS student must also meet any requirements of the Graduate School.

The courses leading to the M.S. degree are listed below. The course requirements are designed to cover the fundamental topics of probability, mathematical statistics, and statistical methodology, to provide an exposure to a range of areas in statistics, and to allow further specialization in a subject of the student’s choosing.

Please review our STAT Courses in the Colorado State University Catalog. Thank you.

Department of Statistics Graduate Degree Requirements for MS Program

  1. Completion of:
    • STAT 520 (4) Introduction to Probability Theory
    • STAT 530 (3) Mathematical Statistics
    • STAT 540 (3) Data Analysis and Regression
    • STAT 640 (4) Design and Linear Modeling I
  2. Completion of STAT 501 (1) Statistical Science
  3. Enrollment in STAT 592 each semester
  4. Completion of twelve credits from the following list of electives:
    • STAT 521 (3) Stochastic Processes I
    • STAT 525 (3) Analysis of Time Series I
    • STAT 555 (1) Statistical Consulting
    • STAT 556 (2) Directed Statistical Consulting
    • STAT 560 (3) Applied Multivariate Analysis
    • STAT 570 (3) Nonparametric Statistics
    • STAT 600 (3) Statistical Computing
    • STAT 605 (3) Theory of Sampling Techniques
    • STAT 620 (3) Introduction to Measure Theoretic Probability
    • STAT 623 (3) Spatial Statistics
    • STAT 630 (3) Advanced Statistical Data Analysis
    • STAT 645 (3) Categorical Data Analysis and GLIM
    • STAT 650 (3) Design and Linear Modeling II
    • STAT 670 (3) Bayesian Statistics
    • STAT 673 (3) Hierarchical Modeling in Ecology
    • STAT 675 (3) Topics in Statistical Methods
    • STAT 740 (3) Advanced Statistical Methods

Options for MS

In addition to completing the required coursework, students must either pass the Doctoral Candidacy Exams at the MS level or complete a project.

  • Project Option (Graduate School Plan A or B): Candidates must complete an independent studies project and submit a written report on it to his/her graduate advisory committee. Acceptable topics for a project include a thorough literature search in a selected area of applied or theoretical statistics, an original data analysis, and original research on a statistical problem. (In the latter case, the report may be used to satisfy the Graduate School’s thesis option for the master’s degree (Plan A).) The student’s project findings must be presented in an oral defense administered by the student’s graduate advisory committee. The student must register STAT 699 if they elect to do the project or thesis option for their MS degree.
  • Exam Option (Graduate School Plan B): Candidates must pass both M.S. comprehensive exams–one exam on Probability & Mathematical Statistics and another on Linear Models & Methods. In addition to passing these exams, the student must take an additional course from the list of electives in item (5) above.

Additional information

  • If a student wishes to deviate from the requirements outlined above, they must develop a plan of study with the help of his/her graduate advisory committee and petition the department graduate committee for approval.
  • Students must have a project and advisor before enrolling in STAT 699, and this information must be sent to the graduate committee chair.