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Grand Valley State University    
  Dec 18, 2017
2013-2014 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Statistics - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences  section in this catalog.

Chair: P. Stephenson. Professors: Curtiss, Downer, Gabrosek, Hong, Jinn, Reischman, Richardson, Rogness, Stephenson; Associate Professors: Anderson, Frobish, Otieno, Shoultz, Zeitler; Assistant Professor: Kapitula; Affiliate Faculty: Bergakker, Hahn.


Degrees Offered: Master of Science in Biostatistics; Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Statistics; Minors in Applied Statistics and Mathematical Statistics. The programs in statistics are offered by the Department of Statistics within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. All interested students are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of Statistics.

Statistics is the science of collecting, organizing, and interpreting data. Statistics is a scientific discipline through which researchers learn to make informed decisions in the face of uncertainty. Statistics students learn to define problems, to think critically, to analyze and to synthesize. Statistics students gain an appreciation for the integrity of data, the uncertainty of measurements, and the strengths and limitations of science. This background prepares them to explore widely throughout their professional lives, and to be creative and productive citizens regardless of the nature of their careers.

Mission Statement

The Department of Statistics informs and actively engages students and colleagues in the ethical practice of modern statistical science and further contributes to our society through active scholarship and effective service.

Vision Statement

The Department of Statistics is committed to advancing the science of statistics by maintaining an inclusive learning community that is characterized by:

  • faculty members who are dedicated to expanding the discipline of statistics, improving the pedagogy of statistics, and broadening the application of statistics and
  • students who are actively engaged in enhancing their understanding of statistics and its application.

All members of our community are encouraged to utilize their statistical skills to be ethical and productive professionals, lifelong learners and responsible citizens.

Career Opportunities

Statisticians look for patterns in data to help make decisions in business, industry, and the biological, psychological, physical and social sciences. Statisticians help make important advances in scientific research by using their quantitative abilities, statistical knowledge, and computing and communication skills to collaborate with other scientists to work on challenging problems, including:

  • Evaluating the environmental impact of air, water, and soil pollution;
  • Designing and analyzing studies to determine the safety and effectiveness of a new drug;
  • Estimating the unemployment rate for the United States;
  • Analyzing extremely big datasets to forecast consumer demand for new products or services; and
  • Planning studies for and analyzing the results of an agricultural experiment.

Employers are eagerly seeking men and women who have these types of skills. Grand Valley State University’s statistics programs will equip graduates with the skills needed to meet the increasing demands of business and industry for people who can provide leadership in making decisions based on disciplined data collection and statistical analysis.

Graduates will learn the theoretical foundations of the field and how to apply statistical methods to a variety of subject areas such as business, computer science, economics, engineering, psychology, and the biological, physical, and social sciences. They may use this knowledge to predict population growth, to forecast economic and business trends, or to analyze market research data on the viability of a new product. Statistical techniques are increasingly used to evaluate new teaching methods in education and cause and effect in the behavioral sciences. Medical and pharmaceutical research depends heavily on statistical methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of a drug or treatment. It is necessary to use statistics to evaluate sample surveys that measure public opinions or the extent of social problems in our society.

Another exciting area that requires the use of statistics is actuarial science. At this time, the majority of actuaries work in careers related to insurance, though the numbers of jobs are steadily growing in other industries. Actuaries are statisticians who use their quantitative skills to analyze and plan for future financial situations. For example, they estimate the impact of seat belt and airbag laws in automobile losses and determine appropriate rate discounts, they calculate the price to charge for insuring a satellite launch, and they project what the AIDS epidemic will cost life and health insurance companies in 5, 10, and 20 years. The demand for college graduates with these specialized skills is ever increasing. The major in statistics prepares students for such a career.

Many other applications exist, such as monitoring and controlling quality in manufacturing, determining the effects of environmental pollution, and aiding business managers and government officials in their decision-making process. In fact, any area that uses the scientific method in the decision-making process is a candidate for the application of statistics.

Not only will students receive an understanding of the theory and the application of statistical methods, but they will receive hands-on experience in the analysis of real-life data. Our program also gives training in oral and written communication skills, which are essential in today’s society. Finally, students majoring in statistics will be highly skilled in the operation of statistical computer packages such as SAS, SPSS, and JMP.

Scholarship Opportunities

The Department of Statistics awards an endowed scholarship(s) each year.  These scholarships are given to a statistics major to honor the student for outstanding performance and to encourage that student to continue their studies in Statistics.  Contact the Statistics Department for details regarding the application process.

Student Organizations

Math and Stats Club

Honors Organizations

Mu Sigma Rho

The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Statistics 

Applied Statistics Minor 

Mathematical Statistics Minor