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Statistics

You’re a mathematical whizz interested in a postgraduate qualification in statistics? What are the chances? A postgraduate qualification such as this could take you far in a finance career; particularly in financial analysis or in an actuarial role. Here’s a little on what is involved…

What will I study on a statistics postgraduate course?

You can bet on coming up against topics like this during your postgraduate statistics degree:

  • Stochastic processes
  • Graphical modelling
  • Stochastic optimisation
  • Applied probability
  • Monte Carlo methods (not quite the Bond-esque, casino tactics you could be thing of…)
  • Financial time series.

There aren’t just straight statistics courses available out there: there are also programmes that combine this subject with things like mathematics or financial mathematics too, so the options are pretty varied and flexible.

Over the stretch of the programme you will have to complete coursework; the course is usually topped off with a juicy dissertation. There are opportunities to study statistics within a taught programme structure (a similar format to an undergraduate degree) or as a research programme (independent research), and it’ll usually take around a year to complete on a full-time study basis.

Entry requirements…

You’ll need at least a 2:1 or equivalent in a degree discipline that’s related to statistics in order to be eligible for the majority of statistics postgraduate courses in the UK. The course content is technical and complex, so you’ll need to have a strong aptitude for mathematics. It’ll probably be a struggle to get onto a postgraduate statistics course if you haven’t done a degree with a strong mathematical or statistical focus.

Any international students without English as their first language will also have to pass an English language proficiency test before they can commence their course. Universities will set their own scores for this, so take a close look at their eligibility requirements before you apply.

Where could a statistics postgraduate qualification take me?

A postgraduate statistics degree will cover plenty of analytical bases that employers within the banking and finance sector are looking for in their prospective employees. By taking a postgraduate course in a subject such as this you’re filling a now essential requirement for eligibility for many top financial analysis jobs. Fancy being a quant (quantitative analyst)? The stochastic focus of this degree discipline will prime you up for it!

It’s also a particularly advantageous qualification if you’ve got your eye on an actuarial role, which could take you into either a public or private sector role in anything from pensions and insurance to asset management or investment banking.

In general though, strengths in statistics will make you an ideal candidate for the vast majority of roles in banking and finance. If you can pin down your target industry before applying for your course, you will have the opportunity to tailor your dissertation/research projects to align yourself with those industries in the best possible way.

Typical industries for statistics postgraduates…

The odds are in favour of graduates with a statistics postgraduate qualification being able to enter any of these career areas:

  • Actuarial (in practically any area of banking and finance, from pensions and insurance to asset management/investment banking)
  • Financial analysis
  • Investment banking (front office, back office or middle office)
  • Asset management
  • Financial planning and advice
  • Accounting
  • Risk management
  • Academia – further statistical research.

By Jos Weale, Editor, AllAboutFinanceCareers.com