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Tips for completing a graduate-level statistics program

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Enrolling in a graduate-level statistics program is a big step. There’s a lot of commitment involved. Don’t let that deter you, but remember, the more prepared you are, the better chance you will have of being successful. Here are some tips to help you succeed.

Brush up on your skills

To qualify for a Master’s in Applied Statistics, such as the one offered by Michigan Tech, you will need to have completed a bachelor’s degree. You also require a strong understanding of statistics and a background in mathematics and algebra.

If your application is accepted, it’s likely you already have these. However, it may help to brush up on your existing skills. This could be by going through your old coursework notes, reading or rereading books on the subject, testing yourself to prevent your skills from going rusty, or watching YouTube videos by reputable sources.

The more prepared you are for the work involved, the more manageable it will be. It’s important not to get overwhelmed because this can cause you to struggle more than you need to. By refreshing your skills while you wait for the course to start, the knowledge you need will be easier to access. 

Consider what you want from your qualification

Before you apply for a graduate-level statistics program, it may help to consider what you want to achieve from your qualification. Have you thought about the job you want it to lead to?


This not only gives you a goal to work towards, but also confirms to yourself why you want to gain a master’s. You could also spend some time looking at the jobs that a graduate-level statistics program could lead to.

These can include working as a biostatistician, a data scientist, or a mathematician. Of course, it makes sense to do some research, to reassure yourself that the career you want to pursue and your chosen qualification fit together. This can also put your mind at ease and give you a clearer pathway forward.

Your chosen industry will have minimum requirements for candidates. If you know what these are, you can stay on track, or seek extra help if you feel you’re not reaching these in your coursework.

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Funding

Another factor to consider is money. Education can seem expensive, but it’s easy to forget that this is an investment in your future. So, while that doesn’t make it any easier to gather the funds you need, it helps to keep that in mind.

It’s worth looking into whether you qualify for any help, such as education grants or loans, or if the university where you wish to study allows payment plans. This can make it easier for you to pay for your master’s degree, as it’s more manageable than paying in one large lump sum.

You could also consider asking your employer if they have any schemes to cover part of your educational costs. If your new skills can benefit the business you work for, it may be in both of your interests for the business to contribute to tuition costs.

Alternatively, you may need to spend time-saving before you have enough money to begin your qualification. At least if you know how much you need and how long it will take you to save it, you have something to work toward.

Plan your study sessions

Planning your study sessions can help you prepare for your course. This will give you a better idea of how much time you need to set aside, and which other commitments you will need to rearrange. It lets you take some time to prioritize and devise a plan to ensure you stick to your study sessions.

Although it is tempting to fill every minute of your free time with studying, this might not be a good approach. Instead, try to create a balanced plan, which includes a set amount of time for studying and some personal leisure time. The latter could involve spending time alone and pampering yourself or spending quality time with family.

Try not to cram in your study time. Instead, stick to a limit of two-hour study sessions, unless you fall behind and need to catch up. It’s easier to learn when you study in bite-size chunks, then take some time to allow what you have just learned to sink in. A master’s in applied statistics can involve a lot of complex information, so don’t try to squeeze in too many longer study sessions.

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Find a mentor

Finding a mentor to help you with your studies can also be beneficial. This should be someone who is at a slightly higher level than you at least, and perhaps is a little more experienced. A recent graduate might be the ideal person to help you. Before asking them, make a list of what you need from a mentor. This will ensure you’re both aware of what to expect and that you don’t overstep boundaries by contacting them for help on smaller issues when they are dealing with other commitments.

To get the most benefit out of your mentor, listen to their feedback and take some time before responding. It is easy to instinctively become defensive, but if you consider their feedback, you will likely realize it has merit. This will help you learn and improve.

If you struggle to find a mentor, you could try networking, attending industry meet-ups, or looking online to see if there are any mentorship programs. Most importantly, your mentor is there to guide you, but the work you do should be your own.

A degree in Applied Statistics involves a lot of work. By being prepared, and knowing what you want to achieve, you stand a better chance of success. After you graduate, you will be rewarded with more opportunities to work in a career you’re passionate about.