Graduate and postgraduate studies
As well as statistics, there are degrees with a high statistics content such as mathematics, computing, economics, management science, business-related subjects, social sciences and political sciences.
The requirements for a degree course in statistics are usually at least two A levels, including mathematics, plus five GCSEs grades (A-C), or equivalent qualifications. Check the exact requirements with individual institutions. For entry at a more senior level, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, a PhD or master’s degree in statistics is required. For a postgraduate course, you may need a good first degree in a relevant subject.
For mature students (aged 21 or older) you can apply directly to the university for any of these courses. Most are happy to consider your application to see whether the your skills and motivation are such that success on the course seems likely. Write to the admissions tutors for the courses in which you are interested with your CV and ask for an interview.
Full-time MSc degrees could be suitable if you have a first degree in a statistics or mathematics related subject. More information is available in the guide to all postgraduate opportunities in statistics in all UK universities published by the Committee of Professors of Statistics. Some MSc courses are highly specialised, these courses may not be suitable for mature students. MSc conversion courses which are more general, are designed specifically for people whose first degree was not in statistics (but usually in a related subject).
Part-time undergraduate degrees are typically spread over 4-6 years (instead of three years full-time). Usually your week is broken up into mornings, afternoons or evenings instead of a full day. Another possibility might be to attend full-time for one academic session (or for a term or semester if these are self-contained) and then have a break. If you are interested in any of these possibilities, you will have to take them up individually with universities in which you are interested. Write to the admissions tutor and ask for an interview.
A part-time MSc degree often means attending for taught material for one day per week for two years after which, you prepare a dissertation. The degree programme can be broken down into three or six modules for each topic, and you can take only one or two of these each year over an extended number of years. Another variant is evening study; for example, Birkbeck College in London specialises in running MSc degrees by evening study, and it has an MSc in Applied Statistics and Operational Research.
Royal Statistical Society professional examinations
Adults with mathematical backgrounds can take RSS professional examinations in statistics (full-time and part-time available). There are three levels, of which the highest, the Graduate Diploma in Statistics, is widely recognised as equivalent to a UK degree in statistics. These aim to provide an alternative to degree level qualifications in statistics. They provide a sound grounding in the principles and practice of statistics, with emphasis on practical data collection, presentation and interpretation. A distance-learning programme for students preparing for these exams is available from the University of Southampton.
Open University – distance learning
Very few universities have as yet developed undergraduate material in this mode. But quite a number of MSc degrees can be taken entirely by distance learning study. If you do not possess the required qualifications to apply for a degree course, you can apply for an equivalent course at The Open University (OU). The Open University does not provide a full degree programme in statistics, but it does have excellent introductory and intermediate courses. These might be suitable stepping stones towards eventual study for a full degree elsewhere.
It is possible to begin a career in statistics straight from school. If you have GCSEs grades in mathematics and English, or A levels, you may be recruited as statistical assistants. You can gain experience, training and further qualifications on the job to allow you to be promoted to statistician posts.