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What Can I Do With a Major in Statistics?
What Can I Do With a Major in Statistics?

The fields of statistics and data science are growing exceptionally fast. As technology continues to reshape our world, more and more data are being collected on any number of subjects. There is a growing belief among decision-makers that these data can be useful. Yet the process of transforming data into actionable information is challenging.

To analyze these modern streams of data, government agencies, non-profits (NGOs), and private industries seek data analysts with technical skills (programming ability), the ability to reason quantitatively about data and uncertainty, and strong communication skills (in written, oral, and visual forms). People with these skills are in high demand — the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that:

Employment of statisticians is projected to grow 27 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected to result from more widespread use of statistical analysis to make informed business, healthcare, and policy decisions.

Statisticians use their deep understanding of mathematics and probability theory to reason about variation and uncertainty in data. For example, if a drug was observed to have a positive effect on patient outcomes in a clinical trial, was that effect large enough — given the sample size and our assumptions about how the data was collected — to justify concluding that the drug actually worked? Statisticians build, validate, and interpret models. They design experiments, and collaborate with scientists of all stripes to make precise estimates of unknown quantities.

Data science is an emerging field that combines elements of mathematics, statistics, and computer science to extract meaning from data. Data scientists work with large, complex, messy, and live data sources. Often working on questions that are not well-defined, data scientists use their creativity and technical ability to dig deep into "Big Data." They build models, make predictions, and develop static and dynamic ways to visualize data.

While at Smith, statistics students have created innovative classroom activities, authored honored theses, developed sophisticated statistical software, and contributed to the College's Office of Institutional Research. Recent graduates have found internships with the National Institutes of Standards and Techonology and the New York Mets, employment with MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and MassMutual's Data Science Development Program, and gone to graduate school at UC-Berkeley, The Harvard School of Public Health, The Ohio State University, and the University of Massachusetts.