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Reputation of Illinois (UIUC) PhD Statistics Program


ducky500
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Hi,

I was wondering if anyone was familiar with Illinois Urbana Champaign's PhD Statistics Program, if they could comment on how strong the department is (in particular the strengths and weaknesses of the department) and how the program compares to other state universities such as Wisconsin's PhD Statistics, Penn State's PhD Statistics, NC State's PhD Statistics, UCLA,? Thank you very much.  

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I think it is a solid department, with some really good professors who have great PhD placement: Annie Qu, Xiaofeng Shao, and Yuguo Chen are particularly good and publish consistently in AoS, JASA, JRSS-B, Biometrika, etc. Qu and Chen seem to be doing particularly interesting current stuff on network analysis and recommender systems.

It is a bit smaller department but definitely solid IMO.

Edited by Stat PhD Now Postdoc
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9 minutes ago, ducky500 said:

Thanks, @Stat PhD Now Postdoc how would you say the program compares to other state universities such as Wisconsin's PhD Statistics, Penn State's PhD Statistics, NC State's PhD Statistics, UCLA,?

NC State and Wisconsin are better programs and among the best in the country. In my personal opinion, UIUC is comparable to PSU and UCLA though, and certainly a quality department. 

I think if you are choosing between these schools, you may want to consider whether you would prefer attending a smaller PhD program or a bigger one. Each has its pros and cons. 

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Based on anecdotal evidence and if that is your preference for future employment, I don't think the reputation of the program itself will matter as much then (to a point... I think any top 60ish stat/biostat program will probably be fine). So you can feel free to attend the program where you feel the most comfortable and feel is the right "fit" for your personality.

My PhD alma mater is a smaller department (though it has been growing quite a bit in recent years) that is about the same rank as UIUC, and there are PhD alumni from my department who are currently working at Apple, Amazon, and Google as data scientists or research scientists. It seems like it is not a big problem to attend a school like UIUC if that is your ultimate goal.

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5 hours ago, ducky500 said:

@Stat PhD Now Postdoc thanks. i would probably prefer a program that has strong placement for statistician/data scientist jobs at google/facebook/amazon, etc.

If you have a PhD from any remotely reputable program, you will be able to get a data scientist interview at these places, and once you hit the interviews your program reputation will not matter.

Edited by bayessays
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4 hours ago, bayessays said:

If you have a PhD from any remotely reputable program, you will be able to get a data scientist interview at these places, and once you hit the interviews your program reputation will not matter.

Agreed with this. As long as the people hiring are somewhat familiar with your PhD institution (this would encompass most of the top public universities in the country, in addition to the top private universities), chances are good for at least getting an interview. People from my PhD department were able to get interviews for data scientist/statistician jobs at Netflix, Apple, Google, Amazon, Lyft, and all those kinds of companies. Chances might not be as good if your PhD is from a more regional school.

Edited by Stat PhD Now Postdoc
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On 1/14/2019 at 5:45 AM, Stat PhD Now Postdoc said:

Based on anecdotal evidence and if that is your preference for future employment, I don't think the reputation of the program itself will matter as much then (to a point... I think any top 60ish stat/biostat program will probably be fine). So you can feel free to attend the program where you feel the most comfortable and feel is the right "fit" for your personality.

My PhD alma mater is a smaller department (though it has been growing quite a bit in recent years) that is about the same rank as UIUC, and there are PhD alumni from my department who are currently working at Apple, Amazon, and Google as data scientists or research scientists. It seems like it is not a big problem to attend a school like UIUC if that is your ultimate goal.

Anecdotally speaking, do you (or anyone else with a better perspective than mine) find that the prestige of an institution correlates to salary at all? I have heard that at those big companies which you mention, salaries are mostly well defined per role, so perhaps in that space there isn't much of a difference. But in general, across all Stat PhD graduates, I wonder if prestige of institution leads to higher salaries.

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1 hour ago, galois said:

Anecdotally speaking, do you (or anyone else with a better perspective than mine) find that the prestige of an institution correlates to salary at all? I have heard that at those big companies which you mention, salaries are mostly well defined per role, so perhaps in that space there isn't much of a difference. But in general, across all Stat PhD graduates, I wonder if prestige of institution leads to higher salaries.

The only places this would happen are consulting/finance where they specifically want name brands or at smug startups.  Established tech companies, pharma etc, it rightfully won't make a difference. 

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6 hours ago, galois said:

Anecdotally speaking, do you (or anyone else with a better perspective than mine) find that the prestige of an institution correlates to salary at all? I have heard that at those big companies which you mention, salaries are mostly well defined per role, so perhaps in that space there isn't much of a difference. But in general, across all Stat PhD graduates, I wonder if prestige of institution leads to higher salaries.

Nah. For STEM-related majors, average earnings don't vary much among the college categories. There is definite correlation between prestige of degree granting institution and salary for some fields, e.g. law or MBAs, but not usually for STEM.

As bayessays pointed out, there are some hedge funds and consulting companies that may be biased towards hiring Ivy League/Stanford/MIT/UChicago/etc. PhD graduates, but I would say these places are the exception rather than the rule in industry.

Edited by Stat PhD Now Postdoc
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Hmm. I would say the end of that article indicates that it doesn't matter. I mean, they aren't plotting a regression or anything, so there's no way of knowing, but if we're speaking strictly of the correlation between prestige and pay, the prestige of the schools listed there for highest pay vary wildly. Their findings look more regional (look at the cluster of schools near Amazon HQ).

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