The Department of Statistics at the University of Virginia was officially formed in 1989. Prior to that date, the statistics graduate program was housed within the Department of Mathematics. Three degrees are offered: the Bachelor of Arts with a major in Statistics, the Master of Science in Statistics and the Doctor of Philosophy in Statistics. There are seventeen faculty members in the department: eleven full-time faculty and one faculty member with a joint appointment in Statistics and in Mathematics. In addition, there are two affiliated faculty with primary appointments in other departments. The graduate program is kept to a small size so as to encourage close interaction between students and faculty; we have tried very hard to continue this practice, so as to nurture the mutual benefits of this interaction!
A major expansion to the statistics community occured in March 1996 with the formation of the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology within the School of Medicine. The Division of Biostatistics has fourteen full and adjunct faculty members, three staff biostatisticians, one research associate and one clinical program coordinator. Statistics and Biostatistics cooperate on a Biostatistics option to the Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Statistics. Courses in Biostatistics have been offered since the 1996-97 academic year. In 2009-2010, in cooperation with Biostatistics, three graduate level courses will be offered: courses in Clinical Trials, Bioinfomatics and Bayesian Methods. Biostatistics students may choose a dissertation advisor from the Biostatistics faculty. All students benefit from the joint colloquium of the two departments and from the close interaction of their faculty. Research Assistantships in Biostatistics are also available, on a competitive basis, for advanced Statistics graduate students.
The Department of Statistics operates a consulting service as part of its graduate degree program in Statistics. Consulting is generally done by graduate students under the close supervision of the Statistics faculty. Prospective clients should see the consulting link for details.
The consulting service has a central role in statistical education: through actual experience students learn lessons that they can never learn from books alone. It plays much the same role in statistical education that Legal Aid clinics play in legal education. All graduate students in statistics are required to register for at least three credit hours of statistical consulting.
Fact: It is a common misconception that Statistics arose as a branch of Mathematics. The origins of Statistics are as a study of the techniques for collecting data. The Royal Statistical Society was founded in 1834 and the American Statistical Association shortly afterwards in 1839. However, the reformulation of Statistics as a branch of Mathematics is entirely a 20th century development.
As a consequence of consulting projects, some of the student consultants have co-authored research articles with investigators from other disciplines such as the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Cardiology. Thus far, two graduate students have written their Ph.D. theses on topics relating to endocrinology. Their theses were jointly supervised by a Professor within the Department of Statistics and a Professor in the Department of Endocrinology of the School of Medicine. Two other graduate students are currently working on research relating to endocronology and pediatrics respectively. One of these students was the recipient of a research assistantship from the GENENTECH foundation.