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Graduate Program: Doctoral Degree

Our doctoral program in Statistics and Applied Probability prepares graduate students to expand the boundaries of statistical theory and practice. Graduates are trained for a career in academics or industry where they are at the forefront of new methods and technology. Our students are given rigorous mathematical training in statistics and probability that can be used to develop real-world methodologies. Recent dissertations have been written in the areas of smoothing splines, spatial statistics, micro-array analysis, functional data models, empirical processes, mathematical and statistical finance, Bayesian inference, and bootstrap estimation methods.

Degree Requirements for PhD in Statistics & Applied Probability

Course Requirements:
Students must complete 72 units of PSTAT graduate courses or approved graduate courses from other departments and pass two qualifying exams. At least 60 of the 72 required units must be in Pstat 200 level graduate courses (excluding P/Stat 263), and they must include PSTAT 207 A-B-C, 213 A-B-C and 220 A-B-C. Each required course must be completed with a grade of B or better. For non-FMS emphasis PhD requirements, please see the PhD Requirements Sheet. For the FMS emphasis, please see the FMS Requirements Sheet.

Qualifying Exams (Part of the area requirement):
Each student must pass two qualifying exams at the PhD level. Each student may attempt each qualifying exam twice. Each student must successfully pass two area exams within three years after joining the Department’s Graduate program regardless of having a Master’s degree or not.

There are four qualifying exam options:

  1. Mathematical Statistics
  2. Probability and Stochastic Processes
  3. Applied Statistics
  4. Pure Mathematics (administered by the Mathematics Department)

For more detailed explanations regarding the Area Requirements and Qualifying Exams, please see our Department Policies and Procedures.

Normative Time

The Department of Statistics and Applied Probability has a normative time of three years to advance to candidacy and five years to complete the Ph.D. degree. The expectation of the department is that students will follow this timeline:

First 2 years
• Core courses completed
• Qualifying Exams passed

By Winter of the 3rd year
• Nomination of dissertation committee
• Advanced to Candidacy

Detailed instructions for nominating your committee and advancing to candidacy

After 5 years
• Dissertation and degree finished

For more detailed explanations regarding the PhD degree, please see our Department Policies and Procedures.

Optional PhD emphasis in Bioengineering
Our department participates in the Bioengineering emphasis. Doctoral students from any department within the College of Engineering (Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials, and Mechanical Engineering) or from the following departments or programs within the MLPS Division of the College of Letters and Science (Chemistry and Biochemistry; Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology; Mathematics; Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology; Physics, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Statistics and Applied Probability, and the Biomolecular Science and Engineering Program) may petition to add an emphasis in Bioengineering to their current doctoral degree program.

Candidates pursuing the Bioengineering Emphasis must also fulfill the departmental and University requirements related to their home degree program. Bioengineering is a rapidly growing discipline and the emphasis is designed to prepare current doctoral students to undertake research at the interfaces of engineering, physical sciences, biology, and medicine. The emphasis features a structured set of core courses that are taught collaboratively by faculty across disciplines that are engaged in bioengineering related research. Additionally, the emphasis aims to provide a community of support and a vehicle for exchange of ideas for enrolled students.


Doctoral students in good academic standing (3.0 GPA or higher) are eligible to apply to the emphasis upon completion of the first year in their home department/program. The application should consist of the following:

  1. A completed cover page to the application with an endorsement signature from the individual's current Ph.D. advisor (template available from CBE).
  2. A one-page description of the doctoral research area.
  3. A completed Graduate Division petition to add the emphasis with necessary signatures.
  4. An unofficial copy of the student's graduate UCSB transcript to date.
Students must have a doctoral research area and/or advisor identified in the field of Bioengineering. Additionally, applicants are expected to have completed one or more foundational undergraduate or graduate courses in biochemistry and/or cell biology. A graduate admissions committee comprising 3 CBE faculty members will be responsible for reviewing petitions and admission materials.

Optional PhD Emphasis in Financial Mathematics and Statistics

The department offers an optional emphasis in Financial Mathematics and Statistics (FMS) for students pursuing a Ph.D. The FMS emphasis allows students to specialize in the emerging field of financial mathematics and statistics. The Center for Financial Mathematics and Actuarial Research provides students a great opportunity to work with a thriving group of researchers taking a cross-disciplinary approach to financial mathematics. For more information on the emphasis, please see the FMS Requirements Sheet.

Optional PhD Emphasis in Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences

The department participates in the Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences (QMSS) interdisciplinary PhD emphasis. The QMSS emphasis offers students an opportunity to apply cuting-edge statistical techniques to research in anthropology, communications, education, geography, political science, psychology, or sociology. The QMSS curriculum is designed to provide a broad interdisciplinary perspective on the use of quantitative methods in the social sciences. For information on the curriculum, please visit the QMSS curriculum. See also the directions on how to join QMSS.

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Statistics & Applied Probability
University of California
Santa Barbara, California 93106-3110
(805) 893-2129
South Hall 5607A