PhD in Statistics

A male student listens in a statistics classroom

The STEM-designated PhD in Statistics program provides advanced training in topics including probability, linear models, time series analysis, Bayesian statistics, inference, reliability, statistics in law and regulatory policy and much more.

Nearly all GW statistics PhD graduates have secured job placements in the statistics or data science industry, with employers including Amazon, Facebook and Capital One. During the program, PhD students work closely with faculty on original research in their area of interest. 

The degree provides training in theory and applications and is suitable for both full-time and part-time students. Most graduate courses are offered in the early evening to accommodate student schedules. 

    Application Requirements

    Prospective PhD students typically have earned a master’s degree in statistics or a related discipline. Students need a strong background in mathematics, including courses in advanced calculus, linear algebra and mathematical statistics.

    Complete Application Requirements


    "GW encouraged me to tap into expertise from within as well as outside the university while researching my dissertation topic. I learned about the value of collaboration throughout my doctoral studies. Collaboration is so important in science, and it’s been instrumental in our success at Emmes."

    Anne Lindblad
    PhD ’90
    President, The Emmes Company


    Students in their first semester of the PhD in Statistics program must meet with the program director prior to signing up for classes. Students should continue to seek advice from the advisor throughout the program, particularly when determining whether any previous coursework can be applied toward their degree.


    General Examinations

    The general examination consists of two parts: a qualifying examination and an examination to determine the student's readiness to carry out the proposed dissertation research.

    Qualifying Examination

    Each PhD candidate is required to take and pass the PhD qualifying exam. The written exam is given at the beginning of the fall semester each year. It consists of two papers:

    • Inference: STAT 6202 and 8263
    • Probability: STAT 6201 and 8257

    The written exam is required for the first attempt. If a student cannot pass it, then there are two options for the second attempt.

    • Option #1 for the second attempt: after approximately a year, the student will retake the written exam (see above for exam description).
    • Option #2 for the second attempt: within approximately half a year, based on the scope of the written exam (see above for exam description), the student must demonstrate satisfactory improvements through (open-book, take-home) problem solving and an oral exam (with questions and answers).

    No more than two attempts are permitted.

    Readiness Examination

    After passing the qualifying examination, the candidate should select a dissertation advisor. In consultation with the advisor, the candidate should pass a readiness examination, usually consisting of a research proposal and an oral examination. A committee of at least two professors should administer the readiness examination.



    Students are required to complete a written dissertation that should be defended before an examination committee of at least four examiners. The dissertation should contain original scholarly research and must comply with all other GW rules and regulations. For more guidance on dissertation process, review the CCAS PhD Student Handbook. For formatting and submission guidelines, visit the Electronic Theses and Dissertations Submission website.

    Past Theses


    Course Requirements 

    The program requires 72 credit hours, of which at least 48 must be from coursework and at least 12 must be from dissertation research. Up to 24 credit hours may be transferred from a prior master’s degree (contrary to general GW doctoral program requirements, which allow up to 30 transfer credit hours).

    Course List
    STAT 6201Mathematical Statistics I
    STAT 6202Mathematical Statistics II
    STAT 6223Bayesian Statistics: Theory and Applications
    STAT 8257Probability
    STAT 8258Distribution Theory
    STAT 8263Advanced Statistical Theory I
    STAT 8264Advanced Statistical Theory II
    At least two of the following:
    STAT 6218Linear Models
    STAT 8226Advanced Biostatistical Methods
    STAT 8259Advanced Probability
    STAT 8262Nonparametric Inference
    STAT 8265Multivariate Analysis
    STAT 8273Stochastic Processes I
    STAT 8274Stochastic Processes II
    STAT 8281Advanced Time Series Analysis
    A minimum of 21 additional credits as determined by consultation with the departmental doctoral committee
    The General Examination, consisting of two parts:
    A. A written qualifying examination that must be taken within 24 months from the date of enrollment in the program and is based on:
    STAT 6201Mathematical Statistics I
    STAT 6202Mathematical Statistics II
    STAT 8257Probability
    STAT 8263Advanced Statistical Theory I
    B. An examination to determine the student’s readiness to carry out the proposed dissertation research
    A dissertation demonstrating the candidate’s ability to do original research in one area of probability or statistics.