Statistics Sequences at Duke, UNC & NCSU


At Duke, prerequisite-level statistics is covered in a variety of undergraduate statistics courses (e.g., STA 101, 102, 103, and 111), as well as in introductory statistics courses offered to beginning graduate students in a number of departments. (There are some other introductory-level statistics courses in the statistics department, but most are not suitable for Nicholas School students because of prerequisites or theoretical orientation.)

Beyond the prerequisite level, ENVIRON 710, Applied Data Analysis for Environmental Science, serves as both a comprehensive applied statistics course for those students who take only one statistics course during their NS program and as an entry point into more advanced statistics courses and other analytical courses, such as ENVIRON 850, Program Evaluation of Environmental Policies.

Other options for statistics study at Duke include undergraduate statistics courses offered by Statistical Sciences, including STA 210 Regression Analysis and STA 340 Introduction to Statistical Decision Analysis (suitable for those who have completed the NS statistics prerequisite).  Other topics, such as STA 320 Design and Analysis of Causal Studies and STA 321 Design and Analysis of Surveys, require regression as a prerequisite (e.g., STA 210 or ENVIRON 710).

At the graduate level, Duke has two departments offering statistics courses: the Dept. of Statistical Sciences and the Dept. of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics (note, two semesters of calculus are prerequisites for Biostat courses). Some departments offer a sequence of courses for their graduate students. In the case of Public Policy, they offer a prerequisite-level course (PUBPOL 812), followed by PUBPOL 813, which combines some experimental design and some regression. Sociology offers a sequence of second- and third-level courses (SOCIOL 722 and 723) that emphasize regression techniques useful in the social sciences. (Sociology also offers other methods courses in demography, survey research, etc., that aren’t part of the statistics sequence described here, but may be useful to NS students.) These departmental courses are often filled up by the department's own graduate students.

Students who switch back and forth between sequences in different departments may encounter either some redundancy or some gaps in preparation. Also, departmental courses will naturally emphasize the techniques most widely used by their disciplines. In addition, different departments may use different computer programs. Most STA and ENVIRON courses use R or Stata; SOCIOL courses often use SAS.


UNC has two statistics departments, Statistics and Biostatistics; the former is mainly for graduate students in statistics; Nicholas School students are more likely to be interested in Biostatistics. The Biostatistics courses most often taken by graduate students in biological sciences are BIOS 600, a prerequisite-level course, and BIOS 545, a second-level course combining experimental design and regression (similar to ENVIRON 710). BIOS 610 is similar to BIOS 600, but requires calculus and focuses on experimental biology. BIOS 664 covers sample survey methods (similar to ENVIRON 557). BIOS 665 covers analysis of categorical data. 

Other departments at UNC offer their own sequences of statistics courses, some of which may be useful to Nicholas School students. The Department of City and Regional Planning offers an introductory level data analysis course (PLAN 720) that satisfies the statistics prerequisite in the Nicholas School. Sociology has a two course sequence covering statistical methods for sociologists including basic topics in statistical inference (SOCI 708) and regression and path analysis (SOCI 709),


NCSU has a large and well-respected applied statistics department. Statistics for graduate students begins with a two-semester introductory sequence. There are different pairs of courses emphasizing different applications areas; the most suitable for most Nicholas School students are ST 511, 512, for biological sciences. The first of these, ST 511, is a prerequisite-level course. The second, ST 512, is a second-level course combining regression and experimental design. ST 507 (prerequisite level) and ST 508 are a parallel sequence for social and behavioral science, as are ST 513 and 514 for management science.

Most, but not all, other statistics courses at NCSU require ST 512 as a prerequisite. Those requiring only ST 511 (or another prerequisite-level course) as preparation are ST 505, Nonparametric Statistics, and ST 506, Sampling Animal Populations.

Beyond ST 512 (or equivalent preparation in another course, such as ENVIRON 710), there are many applied statistics courses. Stick with those that say "applied" in the title. One of the most likely to interest Nicholas School students is ST 524, Statistics in Plant Science (mainly experimental design). Of the 700-level courses with 512 as a prerequisite, 708 (Applied Least Squares), 711 (Design of Experiments), 715 (Survey Design), 730 (Applied Time Series), 731 (Applied Multivariate) and ST 733 (Applied Spatial Statistics) may interest some Nicholas School students. Although they are labeled "applied,” these third-level courses may be more theoretical than many Nicholas School students want or need.

When in doubt, check the syllabus and consult with the instructor. Comments on your experiences will be helpful for future advising.