Question about Applied Master's via Distance and Potential Jobs

Hello Everyone:wave:,

So I have a couple of questions that I am hoping to bounce off of some people in order to help make a couple of decisions about my stats path.
Right now, I am a Math with a concentration in Probability and Statistics major in a college in Denver, CO. I am towards the end of my degree and I am starting to consider graduate school in Statistics.
Unfortunately, I am experiencing severe burnout of academia life, and I am considering going the non-traditional route of doing a distance masters since I would like to do classes where I don't have to be sitting in a classroom for hours at a time and I can go back to working a full-time job. I already have a program in mind which is the Master's of Applied Statistics at Colorado State University, but what I am afraid of with this degree is that with this MAS I won't be taken really seriously out in the job market. The description of the courses is listed here: descriptions.html
I have no intentions of ever getting a PhD, and I really do not dig theory enough to get a regular MS in Stats, but I am just worried about being looked down upon by others since I didn't get a full blown MS. I was wondering if someone could give me some perspective into how something like a MAS is perceived in the job market and whether or not I should go for it?
Also, I am a Women Studies minor, so I would like to get into a job that would probably be in the nature of Social Science research or work. I was hoping if anyone would have any suggestions of where I could go to start looking for that type of work.


Since I'm a grad student, and therefore not in charge of actually hiring people, I don't know how much my thoughts on the subject will be worth, but I'll give it a shot. ;)

Offhand, I don't think the MAS will do you any harm compared to a regular MS. It might make things a little harder if you were planning to go for a PhD in stats, but since you've said that's not your plan, that aspect probably isn't worth worrying about. My experience as a biostatistican working in bioinformatics has been that having any Master's-level degree in statistics puts you ahead of the game. In social sciences, the vast majority of your co-workers won't have your qualifications; they'll mostly (at a guess) have had a few "this is how you do a t-test" type stats classes as part of their degree work, but that's about it. If anything, the main problem you'll have is that everyone will be coming to you for statistical consulting, which is a nice ego-boost but can take a lot of time away from your own research!

BTW, are you at Metro? I was class of 2001, math with CS emphasis.
OMG, yes, I am a Metro student as well. ;) What a small world! :cool:
I'll be graduating this summer, and I am uber excited to move onto grad schol. I have just survived two Boneh classes, but I am going to have three classes with him next semester. I am not sure if you ever had Boneh for Stats, but you probably have heard how hard he is if he was there when you were around. :)
Thanks for your reply though. :) I have also thought about doing biostats, but I was worried that it would limit me in terms of if I wanted to switch industries. How did you get into that field? Where are you going to grad school at? UCD Anschutz?
Pleased to "meet" you. :)

I never had Dr. Boneh -- I think he started just a little before I graduated. I actually only had one stats class at Metro, MTH 3210, with Prof. Yarar. As for how I got into biostats, the answer is, I bounced around a lot. I did a MS in CS, along with the bioinformatics certification, at UCD downtown, then decided I needed to know a whole lot more statistics for my job, so I went off to the U. of Minnesota for a biostats MS. I had intended to stay there for my PhD, but the grant I was on ran out suddenly, and fortunately UCD Anschutz had just received a big bioinformatics training grant, so I came back to Colorado for that. My CV either says "really smart person who's done a lot of stuff" or "dilettante," I can never decide which. ;) I don't think I'm unusual in this, actually -- the department chair at Minnesota, who ended up in biostats via a postdoc after getting a PhD in topology, of all things, once remarked that nobody really sets out to be a biostatistician, it just kind of happens.

FWIW, I don't think a biostats degree would be at all limiting. Most job listings for statisticians say something like "degree in statistics, biostatistics, or a closely related field," whatever the type of job. And while most of my classmates at UMN either stayed for their PhD or went on to biostats-specific industry jobs (mostly in pharma) a number went into non-bio-related jobs in other sciences or in finance. Really, a biostatistics degree is a statistics degree with a few targeted classes like survival analysis and clinical trials, and that's about the only difference.

If you're interested in the biostats program at Anschutz, and you want to know more about it, I'll be glad to tell you what I can. I'm formally in the bioinformatics program, but my advisor is in biostats and I know a fair number of the faculty and students. They don't offer a distance degree option like CSU does, but AFAIK there are a fair number of MS students there who are working in the "real world" and the program is pretty accomodating.
We don't have Dr. Yarar anymore. We have Dr. Grevstad and Dr. Boneh for our Stats program here.
Well, when I originally started down the track of looking into my master's degree, I thought about going to UCD Anschutz for biostats because I thought that would be the perfect marriage of my interest in Women's Studies and Stats. This thought mostly arose from when I took my Design of Experiments class since I could help out with I know I could be involved in things like design of experiments where I could see how I could help with experimental design and making sure that experiments are not biased against either gender. Unfortunately, I didn't see any funding options for MS or PhD students so I decided against it.:shakehead Unless you know of any TA or RA options for that program....;)
I know you said that there are some of the students that have jobs in the real world, but I remember when I looked at the schedules for the Biostats program that there were not a lot of options for evening classes. Unless this has changed as well. :)
Could you let me know? :D
Thanks for answering all of my questions. I really appreciate it!
Hi, sorry it took me so long to reply --

I've e-mailed my advisor to ask about TA/RA opportunities for Master's-level students (either MS or MPH.) The program web site doesn't give many details, does it? I know such opportunities exist, I'm just not sure how they work.

The class schedules aren't all that flexible, I agree. Pretty much one session of each class per semester, and you can either take it or you can't. I was lucky both in my undergrad work and in my computer science MS work (both at Auraria) to have an employer who was willing to let me work around my classes, which may color my view of how easy it is to integrate (traditional, on-campus) graduate studies with the "real world." ;)

Another option you might want to look into is the statistics program through the math department at UCD, either the MS with statistics emphasis or the Statistics Certificate ( ) which I think would probably make a good springboard for future work. One of the UCD-Auraria statistics faculty, Stephanie Santorico ( ) is on my committee, and although her specialization is a lot closer to mine than yours, she can probably give you general information about the opportunities available in statistics at Auraria and what kind of support graduate students can get there. FWIW, if there had been a flourishing statistics program at Auraria when I finished my CS work, as there is now, I'd probably have stayed there rather than heading off for Minnesota.

Understand, I'm not arguing against the MAS at CSU at all -- it looks like a good program, and as I said originally, I really don't think it would be a bad degree to have, at all. Just looking at some other options ...