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marbeach

Are there "cash cow" programs in Statistics?

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Hi all,

I've heard alot about other fields having these 'cash cow' masters programs that are more of a moneymaking venture than other degree programs. Do these exist in Stats? Any speculation on which programs it would be? Just want to make sure I don't end up misinformed and join a program that doesn't hold much clout.

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1 hour ago, marbeach said:

Hi all,

I've heard alot about other fields having these 'cash cow' masters programs that are more of a moneymaking venture than other degree programs. Do these exist in Stats? Any speculation on which programs it would be? Just want to make sure I don't end up misinformed and join a program that doesn't hold much clout.

If you're looking at fully established universities for a graduate degree in statistics, you should be totally fine.

The cash cows people tend to look down upon are things like Phoenix, definitely the best-known one, where the degree is not highly respected in a lot of fields. Granted, my brother got a master's in public health online through there and it's served him very well, so even things like that are situationally valuable.

I've also received a ton of emails from programs that don't seem well established, since I'm in math. Things like business analytics, data management, and some statistics-related fields. But the vast majority were from small schools I've never heard of, who tried to sell themselves to me with promises of things like a "free" laptop or no charge on applications. Those would probably fit in the cash cow category in my opinion.

If you're looking to go to grad school for statistics, I'd check this site for rankings: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-science-schools/statistics-rankings/page+4  Anything on there will certainly be acceptable, but the farther you go, the more important the prestige of the university and advisor you work with becomes. That list most likely isn't exhaustive, but I'm in math that isn't statistics so I don't know where to point you for a complete list. What you should be looking out for is receiving a fully funded offer- that means tuition should be covered, and you should also receive a stipend to live on (very meagerly) while in school. In STEM fields, statistics definitely included, anything less than a funded offer is questionable- receiving funding should be a top priority.

Finally, if you're hoping to study this fall and you haven't put in applications already, you are likely too late, and almost certainly too late if you want funding. Most applications go out in December or early January for programs beginning the following fall. Some programs out there have really late deadlines, but those generally also have rolling admissions and by this point are probably going to be full. If this is the case, definitely email the department to see if there's still opportunity to put in an application, and whether it's worth doing so.

Sorry for such a long post for your relatively simple question- there's tons of information around this site if you do some digging, and if you have any more questions I can try to answer them.

Edited by Euler

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There are actually more than you think. I know of friends who are enrolled in MS programs in statistics with ENORMOUS enrolment sizes (at least 80 students). A couple that come to mind are Columbia and Rutgers. Masters classes are typically taught by adjunct faculty, emeritus faculty or part time lecturers.

Here's a past thread with more info on Columbia's MA Statistics program:

http://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/48650-columbia-ma-statistics-review/

"It is not competitive, there was another post here that showed they had 280 graduates from the MA program in one year alone. It looks like if you have the basic requirements you will probably get in."

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Obviously, being a cash cow doesn't necessarily preclude students from receiving a good education. Columbia's Statistics department is highly regarded and I'm sure Masters students can really make the most of their degree by being proactive enough. 

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They are pretty much all cash cows for their respective departments!  Three separate people I talked to used the term "cash cow" without prompting to refer to the #1 program on the US News list.  But that doesn't mean a masters is not worth doing if it fits your academic and career goals, or even that those cash cows aren't selective and difficult to gain acceptance into.

Edited by DC1020

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They are not all cash cows.  Admissions to Berkeley's Biostat masters program is very competitive, and they enroll only about 6 - 8 new students each year.

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6 hours ago, DC1020 said:

They are pretty much all cash cows for their respective departments!  Three separate people I talked to used the term "cash cow" without prompting to refer to the #1 program on the US News list.  But that doesn't mean a masters is not worth doing if it fits your academic and career goals, or even that those cash cows aren't selective and difficult to gain acceptance into.

This is right on.

PhD programs are money losers, and Masters programs are money makers. So departments have an incentive to increase the size of the Masters program even if it means decreasing the quality of each individual's experience. Of course, a slightly sub-optimal experience at a very reputable program might still set you up well for the future.

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