Faculty of Science - Leading creativity and innovation in the sciences

Statistics (Operations Research) - Postgraduate options

Subject description


Statistics is important for anyone who wants to be able to look critically at numerical information and not be easily misled. It is important for anyone who has problems to solve, problems they won't be able to solve until they find out a little more about the world and how it operates - from finding ways to make a business more profitable right through to improving living standards and fighting cancer.

Investigation - asking questions, designing ways to collect data to answer those questions, collecting data, making sense of what that data says to produce sensible answers - this is the subject matter of statisticians and a set of general life-skills.

We live in an Information Age. Computers allow us to collect and store information in quantities that previously would not even have been dreamed of. But raw, undigested data stored on computer disks are useless until human beings can start to make sense of them. Statistics is the human side of the computer revolution, an information science, the art and science of extracting meaning form seemingly incomprehensible data. Statistics applies to almost any field. This is why some training in statistics can help make you more effective in almost any career.

The fascination of advanced study and the excitement of a career in statistics is one of the world's best kept secrets. What other discipline can accommodate people whose passions are as disparate as pure mathematics (well, almost pure), computer science, medical research, research in biology, social research, engineering, forensics, image reconstruction..., or encompass several of these? Statistics can provide a home for people who love playing with theoretical abstractions. It can also provide a home for people who are driven by the desire to solve practical problems - people who have little patience with abstraction unless they can see direct practical applications.

Few other areas can give you as wide a range of employment possibilities. Do you know yet whether you want to be an academic? Or to work in business or industry? In agriculture? The health sector? Private consultancy? Public sector analysis and planning? Postgraduate study in statistics can help prepare you for any of these. And to a large extent, you can postpone making such difficult choices.

Our recent graduates have found employment in industry, research institutes, medical research teams, government departments, market research companies, insurance companies, investment banks, and in universities. For many of these jobs, a postgraduate degree has been essential.


Structure and prerequisites

Bachelor of Science (Honours) (BSc(Hons)) - Statistics

The prerequisite is a major in Statistics and at least 90 points at Stage III and including STATS 210 or 225.



Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci) - Statistics

The prerequisite is a major in Statistics, or equivalent as approved by the Head of Department.



Master of Science (MSc) - Statistics

The prerequisite is a BSc(Hons) or PGDipSci in Statistics and STATS 210.


Research Masters

  • 90 points: STATS 798 Masters Thesis in Statistics
  • 30 points, subject to approval by the Head of Department, from 600 or 700 level courses in Statistics or related subjects

Taught Masters


Career opportunities

The sheer diversity of applications of statistics makes it exciting. In one week, a practising statistician could help to investigate a case of disputed authorship, design an experiment to evaluate the effects of a new treatment for a disease, analyse a set of data gathered by an ecologist, and help a freight carrier to study his or her work processes to find ways of making the company more profitable.

One of the more interesting applications of statistics which leads to employment is Operations Research. This involves the development of ways of managing large systems. This may involve cost minimisation or modelling and forecasting, and be applied to such fields as inventory control, scheduling problems, production planning or faming such as bids for contracts or political campaigns. It may deal with issues such as reliability of equipment, location problems, or how to service customers to best advantage.

Statisticians are found in all branches of Government and commerce, particularly those students who opt to do a conjoint degree with Commerce. Other avenues are in product testing, market research and advertising.


Help and advice

For further information, please refer to the Statistics Postgraduate Handbook or contact:

BSc (Hons) and Masters
Arden Miller
Graduate Officer
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 86830 or 85053
Email: a.miller@auckland.ac.nz

Postgraduate Diplomas
Brian McArdle
Graduate Officer
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 85845
Email: bmcardle@stat.auckland.ac.nz

PhDs and overseas enquiries
Thomas Yee
Graduate Officer
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 85055
Email: t.yee@auckland.ac.nz