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Employability of MS stats vs MPH epi/biostats


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Currently weighing up options between these two kinds of programs.

Main questions are:

1. Experience: MS in stats doesn't provide an internship experience, I don't have experience in the field, the only experience it would provide is the opportunity to do some consulting - of which there will be a limited number of opportunities available. MPH provides a internship for one or more semesters (which they help you find/find for you.)

2. Skills: Stats provides you with specific skills that are sought after. From what I've heard, SAS and experience with R and MatLab etc, are what will get you employed. Having the skill-set that an MS in stats provides makes you an employable candidate in many different sectors. MPH has a more general curriculum that is less aggressive/less rigorous, and therefore may be problematic in providing the skills that an employer is looking for.

Overall the issue is: experience with a work place, versus a specific skill-set used in multiple fields?

I'm leaning towards the stats.

One more point: I don't have an undergrad degree in math/eng/science - is that likely to hamper me in my efforts at finding work in stats/analysis if I only have the MS?

Thanks.

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  • 1 year later...

What are your career goals? That might be helpful in determining whether an MPH or an MS would be more helpful to you.

 

If you have adequate mathematics skills (i.e. you did well in Calculus I-III and linear algebra), then you can probably get into a Statistics MS program even without an extensive math/science background. If you don't have these prerequisites, you would either have to take these before you begin the program, or in some cases, a program might allow you to take the prerequisites before enrolling in the Master's level classes.

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Personally, I would go with the MS.  I think it's always better to go the more quantitatively rigorous route.  If the internship is a concern (or lack thereof), make it a point to get one anyway or to research with a professor on campus.   

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Applied Math to Stat is right--we would need to understand your career goals in order to ascertain which program you should take. In the public health field, I imagine practical experience is very valuable. If you applied to the program just to get the analytical skill set (a lot of people apply to MPP or MPH in lieu of an MBA, and often compete for the same jobs at the top consulting firms), then I would say the stats program is better.

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Thank you all for replying!

I have just recently become aware of the field of stats/biostats and the employment opportunities and am very interested in pursuing this as a career.  As I am just starting to research this path, at this time I am not 100% certain on career goal specifics, however I am fairly certain that I am not interested in academia.  I (think) I would like to work in the pharmaceutical industry/clinical trials.

 

A little about my background: BS in Biology (2010), mediocre-to-low GPA without any hard math courses (i.e., I have not taken Calc). I took Biostats as part of a public health graduate certificate and made an A in the course…Enjoyed the Biostat class and the epidemiology course as well, which is what led me to start exploring this as a career option. 

 

I live in an area where my options are MS in Stats or MPH in Biostat, and I am unable to relocate. Two local schools do offer a PhD in Biostat, if I decide later that I’d like to take that route. Although I am more interested in Biostat and believe I would thoroughly enjoy the MPH program, it seems that the MPH does not prepare students as well for PhD in Biostats. Additionally, having the MS in Stats would open employment doors in other industries besides bio/medical in the event that I am unable to find Biostat specific employment in my geographic area... there's tons of Stat/Data Scientist job openings around here all the time. The downfall to going the MS route is that I would need to take at least 4 undergrad courses before I would even be considered…and probably need to retake my GRE as I didn't exactly prepare for it the first time around..

 

MPH Bios Pros:  (1.) I did my PH certificate at that school, so I am almost a shoe-in to the program. (2.) At most I might have to take Calc 1 for this program, if even that.. so the need for undergrad classes before starting grad-level is minimal

 

I guess I am just nervous to move forward with the MPH for fear that it will limit my options in the future... but at the same time I am impatient and ready to get started on my grad work!!

 

Thank you in response for entertaining my questions and my mixed-up mind that won't stop racing!!

PS I apologize for any poor grammer, etc.. I work nights and am typing this as I attempt to stay awake for the rest of my shift... :unsure: 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, I know this is a little late to the game, but I'm actually coming from a similar background (I work in a medical lab) and will be pursing a MS stat in the fall. I thought about an MPH, but decided against it.

 

One of the nice things about the MS is that it gives you the quantitative/practical skills that get you a job. There are a lot of people that go into an MPH program because it has a lower barrier to entry, since you don't need the math courses, The material in a good MPH program can be fascinating, but I've met a lot of people with an MPH that went back to working at the same job they had in the hospital before they left. If you have the bio/health background, it doesn't seem like you learn that many more skills unless you go to a top program and throw yourself into the internships.

 

If you're not sure about what you want to do, I would go for the degree that opens up more options.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi statsgirl, Thank you for the response!  :)

I am feeling the same as you... I have health care background so I kind of feel like I could still end up in a Biostats job with the BS bio + MS stats.  I have taken some Pub Health courses previously and loved the content, but as you said.... having the MS stats will open many more doors.... typing 'public health' in a job search does not yield many results, and the majority of the results are jobs that don't really require an MPH.  Additionally, It seems as though good Biostat jobs are concentrated in particular areas of the country, and I am not really willing to relocate at this time. 

 

I do hate to have to take so many undergrad courses for the MS entry, but I'd hate even MORE to have a degree (and student loans) and no job!

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I think you wouldn't have to worry about finding a job in either field frankly. People with statistical knowledge are certainly being sought after (admittedly, however, the trend seems to be that employers are looking for PhDs rather than masters graduates), but public health is one of the hottest fields right now. I guess statistics is the better long-term investment as far as knowledge itself goes, but I also feel like experience matters a lot more when you get to mid-career levels, and I believe you will have better short-run experience with an MPH than a Masters in Statistics. This is all speculative, however.

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I've heard/read a lot about public health being a hot field right now, but what's the earning potential?  From what I can see, aside from Biostats, it's not that great (at least where I live).  Frankly, I don't care to take on 2-3 more years in school and the loans that come along with it, if I am not going to get a good return on investment... Money/income isn't everything but it does play a role in decision making.  Seems like with stats, the option to work across various fields might make earning potential higher (?)  I don't know... I don't have really any statistical knowledge from undergrad so I am also kind of leery of going into MPH where many courses are based outside of learning the practical skills needed on the job. 

 

I'm also terrible at decision-making when it comes to my life/career in general...not much of a risk taker.. ha!  *sigh*

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I've heard/read a lot about public health being a hot field right now, but what's the earning potential?

 

 

Pretty comparable. MS Statistics MPH

 

 

Seems like with stats, the option to work across various fields might make earning potential higher (?)  I don't know... I don't have really any statistical knowledge from undergrad so I am also kind of leery of going into MPH where many courses are based outside of learning the practical skills needed on the job. 

 

Economic theory suggests that higher salaries go to those who specialize actually. It's good that you're risk averse. My point is that you can probably develop a lot of on-the-job skills in public health that can be transferable to outside public health. I guess my advice would be go where your interests are. I'm sure you would do well either way.

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If you get an MPH in biostat, your job opportunities will probably be closer to what another public health student would get, with a little more statistical analysis.  You will not be considered employable for a lot of statistics jobs (especially if the program only required you to take Calc 1 to get in).  If you want to be a statistician, get the MS in stats.  If you want to be a public health professional and maybe use SAS a little more than the epidemiologists, get the MPH.

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