Earn an M.S. Degree in Applied Statistics and Lead Change During a Pandemic

by Ben Kissam

When crisis strikes, statisticians often take a leading role in helping society recover and advance. Using data and leadership skills, professionals in this field work behind the scenes—often with some of the world’s largest governing bodies—to inform the public and keep people safe.

If you’re thinking about pursuing a leadership role as a statistician, there are multiple reasons you should consider working toward a Master of Science in Applied Statistics and Analytics at Azusa Pacific University. Here’s more information about the important work of statisticians and how a master’s degree can set you up for future success.

What Does a Statistician Do?

Statisticians use data to solve problems and predict trends. By applying statistical formulas and models to real-world issues, a statistician works with a team to brainstorm solutions that help improve businesses, schools, various departments in the government, and even sports teams.

In some cases, the role of a statistician is very time-sensitive. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, health organizations rely heavily on statistical data before disseminating information to the public.

An increase in digitally stored data, and a growing need for statisticians to analyze that data, are both reasons why statistics jobs are expected to grow 30 percent by 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This equates to about 14,400 new jobs, which is much higher on average than most fields.

What Role Do Statisticians Play During Pandemics?

“In pandemic situations, data is collected from diverse sources at various levels, and it is especially important to make informed decisions based on that data,” explained Soeun Kim, Ph.D., the director of the M.S. in Applied Statistics program at APU. “Statistical tools are essential for quantifying and understanding the current situation as well as how things change over time, and can help understand what the underlying factors might be.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many feeling uncertain and fearful of the unknown. Eventual policies and guidelines such as physical distancing, wearing masks, and the stay-at-home orders imposed by many states were developed primarily from analyses performed by statisticians.

In fact, data analysts worked hand-in-hand with massive agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow and stop the spread of the coronavirus. The United Nations released a statement weeks after the shutdown noting how statisticians were saving lives.

How Can a Statistics Degree from APU Help You Succeed?

An M.S. degree in Applied Statistics from APU can set you up for future success as a statistician for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, the BLS notes that statisticians typically need a master’s degree. Attempting to enter the field with only a bachelor’s degree could be a major hindrance to landing your first job.

Second is the focus on customization within the program. Students can choose to specialize in either biostatistics or business analytics, depending on their career aspirations. Biostatistics may be the better choice if you’re interested in a crisis management position; however, the BLS outlook on business analyst jobs is just as promising and widely applicable to finance and business related fields. No matter which program you’re in, you’ll gain extensive practical experience with software like SAS, STATA, R, and Tableau.

Finally, the program at APU also addresses the moral issues within the field, helping to give students a deeper understanding of the ethical side of data analysis. You’ll graduate with leadership skills and a spiritual framework as a foundation, both of which are tremendous assets during a crisis.

Where Else Do Statisticians Work?

Kim noted that individuals with a graduate degree in applied statistics have many professional opportunities.

“Medical research institutions, organizations that deal with crises or disruptive events, public health-related government agencies, academic institutions that conduct research in pandemic or crisis management,” said Kim. “These are among the many types of agencies that have a need for data analysts who are prepared for data that arise from pandemic situations.”

Statisticians have also found work as:

  • Data scientists
  • Sports analysts
  • Industrial statisticians
  • Environmental statisticians

Curious to learn more about how a statistics degree can prepare you to lead change in public health and other fields? Contact the Department of Mathematics, Physics, and Statistics, and explore Azusa Pacific University’s M.S. in Applied Statistic and Analytics.