Information for Prospective Students
Nationally Recognized Excellence in Undergraduate Statistics Education
Virginia Tech is a national leader in the development of undergraduate statistics programs. Having awarded more than 400 Bachelor of Science degrees in statistics over the past 35 years, the department has a long history of success in the training of professional statisticians. Furthermore, the undergraduate statistics program at Virginia Tech has earned the reputation of serving as a model for other programs that have been initiated in the U.S. during the past two decades. Today the program has about 35 statistics majors, a number that affords students the benefits of small class sizes, while the size of the faculty gives students the opportunity to profit from expertise in a wide variety of areas of statistics.
The Discipline of Statistics
Statistics has been called the science of decision making in the presence of uncertainty. Although many people think of statistics as just crunching numbers from the sports pages in the newspaper, statistics is actually a much more broad, challenging, and exciting field. Statistics is involved in all of the basic facets of scientific advancement: formulating research questions, designing experiments, surveys, and studies to gather information, analyzing the data obtained with appropriate statistical procedures, and writing conclusions and summarizing the results. Statistics helps people make important informed decisions based on quantitative information. Statistics is therefore a valuable partner to almost any field of study, including engineering, agriculture, social science, medical science, environmental science, forestry, business, and finance.
Skills Statisticians Need
Statisticians help scientists and other researchers formulate research questions and make decisions based on data. To fulfill that role, statisticians must be able to effectively communicate with others. The communication skills needed by statisticians include listening to others describe their work and their problems, translating problem statements made by others into statistical questions, formulating and solving the problems quantitatively using statistical methods for design and analysis, and reporting and discussing the results.
These tasks require that statisticians:
- be quantitatively literate, understanding the scientific method and how to think quantitatively,
- be proficient in the use of computers for statistical analysis, word processing, and electronic communication,
- communicate (in both written and oral forms) scientific findings in a manner that can be understood by persons who are without extensive statistical knowledge,
- work effectively with others in a team environment, and
- be interested in and learn quickly about other disciplines and fields of study.
How We Produce Professional Statisticians
The undergraduate statistics program at Virginia Tech prepares students to achieve the skills needed to be professional statisticians through:
- extensive training in the discipline of statistics and statistical methods,
- individual writing assignments that include written conclusions in the context of real problems,
- group projects that develop teamwork and interpersonal skills,
- presentations that ensure students' ability to communicate orally,
- extensive use of computers and a variety of statistical software packages in instruction, assignments, statistical analysis, reporting, and communication, and
- frequent use of and exposure to real examples from a variety of subject areas.