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Advice regarding applying to Canadian statistics masters programs


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I'm looking for advice from anyone familiar with Canadian stats programs... here is my situation:

I'm a 4th year undergraduate enrolled in a BSc (Hons) in Statistics and a BA in Economics at a Canadian university. This is a 5 year program, so I could finish it up next year and get both degrees. Alternatively, I could graduate May 2013 with a BSc in Statistics (no honours since I started that portion of the program too late) with a minor in economics.

Since I'm interested in Statistics graduate programs, not getting the Econ degree is of no huge concern to me. But I'm not sure how not having Honours looks to other Canadian universities. My school's honours program is just extra courses - all I would be missing from it at the end of this year is a course in Real Analysis and a first year proofs course. There is no research component.

If I were to apply to schools this year, this is where I'm standing:

BSc: Statistics

Minor: Economics

GPA: 3.53 (3.8 in the last year or so)

Courses: Calculus Sequence, Linear Methods Sequence, Theory of Interest, Intro Mathematical Probability (B+), Intro to Mathematical Statistics (A-), Mathematical Statistics (B-), Applied Probability (A-), Theoretical Probability (A-), Experimental Design (A), Nonparametric Statistics (A+), Applied Regression Analysis (ongoing), Monte Carlo Methods and Statistical Computing (ongoing), Complex Analysis (ongoing), Practice in Statistics (winter 2013), Sampling Theory of Surveys (winter 2013), Multivariate Analysis (winter 2013)

I have some not so great grades in my later Calculus courses and a couple actuarial science courses from one really terrible year, but I think I've improved enough since then.

I've taken almost every course that my school offers in statistics, and I hope that this huge breadth would be enough to get me into programs without having 'honours' attached to my degree. But I'm not sure.

Another one of my concerns is that I don't have research experience due to a tiny department with poor funding- I know this isn't a huge deal for Masters programs, but it scares me a bit. I hope to over the following summer, though.

I also have experience as a department TA for an introductory statistics course (running a couple of labs a week, grading, one-on-one help, etc).

Schools I'm looking to apply to: Carleton, McGill, U of T, York, UBC, Simon Fraser... maybe more, but no Prairie province schools.

I'm looking for a program with a thesis component, preferably (I know a couple of the above only have projects).

It basically boils down to this: apply now without honours, or stick it out one more year?

If anyone has any words of wisdom to offer, that would be great.

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I think you should go for the extra year. Because of the nature of Canadian undergraduate programs, virtually all math majors will have had exposure to proof-writing and real analysis before graduating, and these students make up the bulk of applicants to statistics Masters programs. You will likely stand a much better chance of getting into a top Masters program if you have these additional math courses under your belt.

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I am applying to Canadian Universities as well. Judging from the 2 professors which I talked with, I don't think it's that important to have graduated from an Honours. They are more interested in the courses you have taken at the 3rd/4th year level. You have taken many of those courses and got good marks, so I think you are competitive for any program which starts in Sept 2013. I can only wish I had the same breadth as you. Most departments usually have a list of recommended courses posted on their website (like McMaster, U of T), you can take a look at that and you will see you have met most criteria.

Good luck!

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cyberwulf - i was hoping that my courses in theoretical probability (a very proof heavy course) and complex analysis would be enough to cover this exposure, but i understand where you're coming from. i'll definitely have to think about that. unfortunately, the course offered on proofs in the winter semester is during other stats courses...

outliers - i guess i should talk to some profs here and see what they think about the honours. i'll definitely take a look at the list of recommended courses and see if i've covered most of them. best of luck to you as well!

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