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BA in English, PhD in Statistics?


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Hi everyone - Thanks for any insights!

I'm trying to figure out how to transition from a language arts background into Statistics. While in high school, I excelled in quantitative classes like Calc and Physics. Then at a liberal arts school, I basically earned a critical thinking degree through English, Spanish, and History classes. I've been working in the financial services sector since I graduated, and I've come to realize ignoring my natural math talents was a mistake. I find myself drawn to reporting, analysis, data collection, and numbers in general. I'm interested in pursuing an education in Statistics so that I can collect and analyze data at very sophisticated levels full time. I'll probably want to do this in a market research capacity.

Since graduating, I've taken a couple of undergrad stats courses at a local college. I've read suggestions to take Linear Algebra and some more Calculus as well, which I will take this upcoming spring semester. Other than that, I'm not sure what the best route is to find out next steps. What sort of resources are out there to help me supplment my lack of math background? What do I need to do to get there? Looking at faculty pages and reading some of their articles seems like a good idea. Any suggestions are more than welcome! Thanks so much!

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First of all, congrats on finding something that you are really excited about!!

I am not familiar with statistics graduate programs, but I am certainly familiar with pursuing graduate work in a field different than your Bachelors. I like the way that you presented your language arts degree as a "critical thinking degree." That is a great angle to take when applying to programs. I've learned that's it's really important how you present yourself to your potential advisors and schools. For example, I did my undergrad in music but am applying to science PhD programs. At first, I was approaching my application sort of like, "well, I wanted to do music, then that didn't work out, so then I thought I wanted to go to med school, but then I changed my mind and settled on this." It made me seem unfocused and negative, which I wasn't at all. I ended up putting a positive spin on it, "I studied music because it was my passion and I knew that whatever I ultimately decided to do, the humility and determination necessary for my music degree would benefit me. Then I had X, Y, and Z, experiences that led me to this application."

I guess what I'm really trying to say is don't focus on what your application DOESN'T have. "I've come to realize that ignoring my natural math talents was a mistake." You didn't make a mistake. You just took a longer journey to realize that math was ultimately what you wanted to do. Focus on what you DO have in your application: a unique degree that gave you some skills and knowledge that you can use to be an even better statistician.

Logistically, of course, I'm not sure what you need to add to your transcripts to be able to apply graduate programs. I would suggest contacting a few schools you might be interested in and explaining your situation. You might be surprised with their answers. Real-world experience and passion can count for a lot, and it sounds like you have both.

I ramble. Good luck to you!

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I studied statistics as my major when I was an undergraduate and struggled to obtain a BA degree of statistics. Quite the opposite of your situation, I transisted from statistics to history of education for my MA because statistics was too hard for me and I thought I need more knowledge of social science and humanities.

I don't know what courses students learn in U.S.,but in China I learned higher algebra and calculus as basic courses in statistics major, then "applied random process" ,"topology","abstract algebra" and so on, all very pure and tough theory... Some of my classmates went to universities in U.S. after graduation. As they said, the Ph.D. courses were as" easy" as what we 've learned before. ..

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