I have a choice of Master's programs in statistics, one of which is formally a program in applied statistics, the other is formally in math with an applied statistics "track".

The courses in the 2 programs are about the same, so I am wondering how much the label of the degree really matters (I most likely will not work in academia unless I am doing contract work).

Thank you for any insights you may have,


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    Could you please supply more details? For instance, what are the precise differences in the programs? Also, and probably more importantly, what are your goals after graduation? Would you like to work in a particular field? As your question currently stands, it is difficult to give a sensible and focused answer. – J W Feb 26 '14 at 15:00
  • Agree that some more info is needed. Check the works of the faculty members and see which program resonates with you better. If you're not going to work in academia, evaluating if they provide internship projects in non-academic organizations may give you some extra information as well. – Penguin_Knight Feb 26 '14 at 16:36
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    The "label of the degree" probably doesn't matter much at all, unless you are running the gauntlet of a clueless HR dept. Having said that, having a Statistics degree might be marginally more marketable than a Math degree, assuming anyone cares, simply because Statistics is more marketable than Math in general. Of course, this would only help you (if at all) if you are applying for a Statistics job. – Faheem Mitha May 29 '14 at 18:17
  • How much does it matter to whom? – JeffE Jul 29 '14 at 13:15

Well, do you want to end up applying for a job that is looking for a "Degree in Statistics (or related field)," or a job that is looking for a "Degree in Mathematics (or related field)?"

Employers don't usually ask for transcripts and don't look at your list of courses, they just look at your resume/CV, which will just have the title of your degree and perhaps your GPA (or some other summary grade if not in the US). If you look like you don't quite have the right qualifications on paper, you'll need to explain how a "mathematics" degree qualifies you for a job in statistics, or vice versa.

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  • I've spent most of my 20 years in basic research solving math problems in many fields. I don't know that I can find such a job any more. In statistics at MS level, the jobs are specialized & skill oriented so it's hard figuring out what you need for a career if you lack formal training in biostats or finance. Most likely,I will enter a PhD program in an environmental science that will allow earn a MS in stats at the same time.This way, I can do the higher level work I enjoy, have content knowledge in a specific field, while doing statistics on some very interesting and challenging problems – Gremlin Brenneman Jul 30 '14 at 15:20

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