The PhD Program in Statistics provides students with a broad based course of study in applied statistics, theoretical statistics and probability, as well as numerous advanced topic courses.  The breadth and depth of the program has served graduates well in their subsequent careers in academia, industry and government.   Doctoral students pursue a wide range of dissertation research, ranging from applied statistics to theoretical probability.  Many students are involved in interdisciplinary research that puts them in regular contact with faculty and students in other departments at UNC, and in some cases, other institutions.  Past interactions with other units at UNC have included Environmental Sciences, Biology, the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Computer Science, Biostatistics, Economics, and the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences.



Note: the following requirements apply to all students entering the program beginning in 2011.

Completion of the PhD degree requires at least forty-five (45) semester hours of graduate coursework. To meet this requirement, students typically take fifteen three-credit courses.  The course requirements for the PhD are divided into five basic areas:

1. A Series. These are the six basic first-year courses. They are divided into three sequences of two courses.  The first course in each sequence is taken in the Fall, the second in the Spring.

Applied statistics: STOR 664 and 665
Theoretical statistics: STOR 654 and 655
Probability: STOR 634 and 635

PhD students must pass each of the six A series courses and successfully complete the Comprehensive Written Exams on these subjects.

2. B Series.
There are 11 courses in the B series, divided into two groups.  The first group includes basic courses on stochastic modeling and optimization.  The second group includes intermediate level courses in different areas of statistics. PhD students must take and pass at least one course from the first group, and at least two from the second.

Group 1: Stochastic Modeling and Optimization (One or more courses required)

STOR 612 Models in Operations Research
STOR 641 Stochastic Models in Operations Research I
STOR 614 Linear Programming
STOR 642 Stochastic Models in Operations Research II
STOR 762 Discrete Event Simulation

Group 2: Intermediate Statistics (Two or more courses required)

STOR 754  Time series and multivariate analysis
STOR 755  Estimation and hypothesis testing
STOR 756  Design and robustness
STOR 757  Bayesian statistics and generalized linear models
STOR 765  Consulting

STOR 767  Advanced Machine Learning
STOR 831  Advanced Probability

C series.  The C series comprises all graduate level Statistics Program courses that are not included in the A or B Series (excluding STOR 992 and 994):

STOR 851, 852, 853, 854, 855, 832, 833, 834, 835, 836, 856, 857, 881, 890, 891, 930, 940, 950, and 960.

PhD students must take and pass at least three C Series courses.

4. Courses Outside Statistics.
  PhD students may count up to nine credit hours of coursework outside the Statistics program towards the forty-five credit hours required for the doctoral degree.  Outside coursework can come from other fields including Biostatistics, Operations Research, Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics.  Coursework outside statistics needs to be approved by the Graduate Curriculum Committee in order to count towards the PhD degree.

5. Thesis Research Course.
  All PhD students must take six or more credits of STOR 994, PhD Thesis Research, and must be registered for STOR 994 during the semester that they take their Final Oral Exam.  Credits for STOR 994 do not count towards the forty-five credit total needed for the PhD degree.


Students develop and pursue their dissertation research under the guidance of a core member of the Statistics Faculty.  In some cases, a student may be co-advised by two core faculty members, or by a core faculty member and a co-advisor from another department.

Time limit.  Students are expected to complete their coursework and thesis research within five years of entering the program.   The University does not provide tuition remission beyond five years.  In addition, the Department cannot provide assistantships for students after the end of their fifth year.

NOTE: For more information on the University’s requirements and procedures for the PhD and PhD dissertations, see the Graduate School Handbook.




Written: The Comprehensive Written Exam (CWE) consists of three papers, one for each of the basic first-year course sequences (STOR 634-635, STOR 654-655, and STOR 664-665). The CWE is usually taken just prior to a student’s second year of study.

Preliminary and Final Oral Examinations:  Under normal circumstances, students take the Preliminary Oral Exam by the end of their third year of study.  During the Preliminary Oral Examination students present a general, prospective outline of their thesis research, which may include preliminary results.  The Final Oral Examination is the student’s formal thesis defense, and usually takes place during the fifth year of study.