I know there is a thread related to this topic but I just want to know how does an MS in Pure Math or Applied Math look in a PhD Statistics application in top school (Ivy League, Stanford). I'm currently at the top 50-60 school in Math and I would like to know what a committee member of top PhD school look at me. Also, do you need to have research experience during master year since a lot of master program is intensively learning graduate courses in your first year. Thus, once you apply in the fall of second year in the Master program you might not have research experience or publication yet. I also have research experience during my undergrad year, with a perfect GPA in math major. Not sure how the master will turn out but I just want to ask how would people view my PhD application if I apply (assuming I would do decent or pretty well during my first Master year)

  • 1
    Why bother with a Master's at all? It sounds like you are already well qualified to start a PhD in the USA. Mar 23, 2018 at 18:53

2 Answers 2


I went from an MS in pure math to a PhD in statistics. My transition was just fine. Many doctoral programs in statistics, especially those at "elite" universities, tend to actually be rather math heavy. You will be well suited to pursue questions in mathematical statistics and probability theory. A robust understanding of linear algebra and real analysis are always helpful in statistics.

You will need to make sure that you have a background in at least a few things:

  • Be sure to perhaps take an introductory stats course if you can. This will allow you to learn the basics of the terminology.
  • Become competent in some programming languages. C++ is good. Python is good. R is great. You may struggle in some classes if you are completely inept at programming.
  • Try looking at the backgrounds of some of the students at your desired schools. LinkedIn or the school website can sometimes give you this information without excessive work.
  • As for research experience, every bit helps. It would maybe not be a disqualifier if you have no research, but you should look into how feasible it would be to join in on a project. This being said, the biggest thing a committee would look for would be potential to do quality research. This can be shown in more ways than just straight up research.

Also, may I second @astronat's thoughts on going directly to a PhD if you are so inclined? It's not a solution for everyone, but it can speed up the process of obtaining the terminal degree sometimes. Note that going directly for a PhD is more likely to allow you to obtain funding immediately for graduate school.

  • Hey. I'll be applying to PhD programs in Statistics, and I'm currently pursuing a master's in (Pure) Math. Would you be able to comment in more detail about your transition either here or some other place? My biggest concern is research experience.
    – user82261
    Jun 19, 2019 at 18:57
  • @user82261 I have created a chat room: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/info/95157/…
    – Vladhagen
    Jun 19, 2019 at 20:47

If you want to get drafted to the NBA, why you do you want to get trained in Barcelona FC soccer academy?

The simple answer is to go get a MS in Statistics (note that many places don't offer MS in math, and only give you that degree if you leave the PhD program prior to graduation). Moreover, it is unclear which institute you're planning on getting the MS from, I hope it is from a good one.

Nowadays there are some applied math programs with concentrations on "data science/big data", those might be relevant a bit more to statistics/data science, but again those things change from place to place, studying how to very accurate simulations of fluid mechanics for example won't help you much in statistics.

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