As you prepare your packet, you should have several aspects of your application in mind. Your transcript should show that you satisfy the background academic requirements for the Program and degree. Your personal statement should make it clear why you want to obtain an advanced degree in Statistics, how your background makes you qualified to achieve your aim, and why the University of Arizona is a good fit for you. Thus, you will need to spend time exploring the Program webpages and the webpages of our faculty and imagining yourself participating in the Program. Personal statements are personal and so we have no absolute standard for a good statement. Look over some guidelines like here, here and here and prepare a statement that has your authentic voice. Sometime soon the Admissions and Recruitment Committee may meet you during a visit to Tucson or during a video chat. This statement is your introduction to us. Have trusted friends and associates look it over and provide construction criticism, especially if they have been through this process recently. Your goal should not be to get into every graduate program where you apply, but into the right program for you.
Graduate education has both advanced training in statistical theory and methodology and translation of this learning to teaching, consulting, and research environments. The assessment of your ability to handle the mathematical sophistication and communications challenges of an advanced degree will be central in decision making of our Recruitment and Admissions Committee. The first issue is especially important if you have a non-traditional background in the mathematical sciences and the second becomes more critical if you are not a native speaker of English.
A good personal statement, curriculum vitae, transcript and foreign language or graduate exam scores are important and establish that you have genuine interest in a program and have met standards that will merit a substantive review or your application material. Graduate schools will have some need-based awards. However, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and fellowships are largely merit based.
In almost every circumstance, the letters of recommendation are key documents in determining admission and the financial package. Good letter writers are those who will take the time to write a candid and thoughtful letter. You letter writer should be chosen so that they speak to the most important issues for the Admissions Committee, namely you academic achievement and you accomplishments during activities like internships and teaching and research experiences. Thus, focus the choice for letter writers among your instructors for the most advanced and relevant courses or your recent mentors. Make sure that your letter writers have all of your supporting materials – resume, transcripts and personal statements. Having this material readily available makes it easier for them to write an effective letter.
You need to make an effort to distinguish yourself beyond high scores on exams. So, stay engaged actively in the course both in the classroom and with your classmates, meet with your instructors, mentors and supervisors, and prepare assignments and projects carefully. Beyond helping you obtain a good letter of recommendation, this level of commitment is a good general approach to education. A good letter both describes your accomplishments and says something unique and original about you. This letter ought to complement and reinforce the points you made in your personal statement.
Good luck with your application and rest assured that the Statistics Program’s Admissions and Recruitment Committee will give your application very careful consideration. We hope to see some of you soon.