Master’s Degree in Statistics for Political Science Ph.D. Students

The Master’s Degree in Statistics is a tailored master’s degree program in statistics within the Department of Mathematics and Statistics for graduate students in Political Science. Note that while the program is designed to serve political science graduate students, it is run by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Students interested in the program will need to begin their additional coursework in their third year (or before). Students are encouraged the apply for the program in their third year, but may prefer to try the additional courses first.


Requirements for admission:

  • To be eligible for this program you must have already passed PS5052 (Math Modeling), PS581, and PS582. You must have earned a grade of A- or A in these courses. Although exceptions have been made in the grade requirements at the request of political science faculty, this decision is up to the Math & Statistics department.
  • You must obtain permission from the methodology field committee in the Department of Political Science.
  • Students must formally apply to the Department of Mathematics AM program. Be sure to note you are applying for the tailored AM in Statistics for Political Science PhD students:
  • Note that you must have three letters of recommendation. Students should seek letters from one or more methods faculty in the political science department for this step.


Modified course requirements for the degree:

Students must meet the core course requirements for the traditional AM in Statistics (typically 5 courses) with two exceptions:

  • L24 Math 439 may be replaced with PS581 and PS582 with 3 additional credits produced.
  • Practical training L24 Math 591 is not required.

There are 3 political science courses that count towards this AM degree in statistics that are required of all political science graduate students

  • PS 506 (Game Theory)
  • PS 581
  • PS 582

This makes a total 21 credits from: 15 required credits from statistics courses, plus 3 additional credits from substituting PS581 and PS5582 for Math 439, plus 3 credits from PS506. Outstanding students who wish to not make this substitution can take M439 and one additional math elective, but only with permission.

The remaining 15 credits are completed through electives and an optional thesis. Students may choose any electives acceptable for the traditional Masters in Statistics. The following additional electives are also available for students in this program:

  • PS 5024 Causal Inference
  • PS 4625/5625 Applied Statistical Programming
  • PS 583 Computational Social Science



To be eligible for the thesis option, a student must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or above in the first two semesters (or 18 units) of course work satisfying the program requirements. A maximum of 3 units may be used for thesis research. The thesis must be supervised by faculty with an appointment in Mathematics and Statistics (e.g. a faculty member with a joint appointment in Political Science and Mathematics and Statistics). You will need to follow instructions from Mathematics and Statistics to form your committee, schedule your defense, and complete the process in an orderly manner. The only current Political Science faculty with a (courtesy) appointment in Mathematics and Statistics is Betsy Sinclair, and students are encouraged to work closely with her early in this process.

A thesis will not typically be like an “applied statistics” paper or even a standard methods paper in political science. Students should expect to write a paper that makes a contribution to knowledge in the field of statistics (or related areas like machine learning). The framing, literature review, and structure of the thesis should reflect this orientation. While some of the same underlying work can appear in your dissertation and thesis, the master’s thesis itself is unlikely to simply be a chapter of your dissertation. Students are encouraged to start the process of drafting their thesis early (at least a year in advance of the defense) and meet regularly with their supervising faculty during the drafting process to make sure the eventual draft meets the expectations of Mathematics & Statistics.