Probability and Statistics Concentration

Statistics is the science of learning from data, and of measuring, controlling, and communicating uncertainty; and it thereby provides the navigation essential for controlling the course of scientific and societal advances (M. Davidian and T. A. Louis, Science, April 6, 2012). On the other hand, probability forms the mathematical foundation for development of statistical methods, and computational tools provide for the implementation of these methodologies. Statisticians work involves collecting data, exploring data with the aim of extracting information, and building models that incorporate variability and assess the level of uncertainty with the aim of discovery and prediction.

Today, statisticians contribute to almost every facet of scientific, technological, and societal advances. There is a considerable demand for the development and application of complex statistical methods in biological sciences such as genetics and neuroscience. Statisticians contribute in studies involving disease identification, disease prevention, medical imaging, and drug discovery. They help form public policies:

“Without good statistics, the development process is blind: policy-makers cannot learn from their mistakes and the public cannot hold them accountable.” (World Bank, 2000: Report on Developmental Indicators, Washington D.C.) 

Statisticians play crucial roles in different areas of business and finance, including predicting financial market fluctuations, developing market strategies, and estimating unemployment rates. Additionally, researchers in a number of disciplines such as education, psychology, sociology, and engineering constantly seek statistical expertise in solving their multi-layered, and complicated data-analytical projects.

Students in the Probability and Statistics concentration in the Mathematics Department at CSUF would benefit from one or more of the following program goals: (1) To equip students with the knowledge of probability theory in order to understand and properly apply statistical methodology. (2) To offer courses that will teach students state-of-the art statistical methods and statistical software and prepare them to join the workforce in industry, government, business, or education. (3) To prepare students with a level of knowledge required to continue their studies in graduate programs in statistics or related fields.



In addition to the university and departmental requirements, the Probability and Statistics concentration requires completion of the following courses with a grade of C or better:

       Math 338 Statistics Applied to the Natural Sciences (4 units)

       Math 435  Mathematical Statistics (3 units)

       Math 436  Advanced Statistical Models (3 units)

                 or Math 437 Modern Approaches to Data Analysis (3 units)

       Math 438  Introduction to Stochastic Processes (3 units)

       Math 439 Intermediate Data Analysis (3 units)

And one of the following courses:

       Math 340  Numerical Analysis (3 units)

       Math 370  Mathematical Model Building (3 units)

       Math 390 Introduction to Actuarial Science (3 units)

Please see the prerequisite diagramPDF File Opens in new window of the courses required for this concentration. 



Hal Varian, an emeritus professor of economics at UC Berkeley and current Chief Economist at Google calls statistics “the dream job of the next decade.” In the age where data is ubiquitous and easily available, naturally statisticians are in high demand. Almost in every sector of the workforce from academic settings and industrial companies to governmental agencies employ statisticians. The 2008 National Employment Matrix, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reflects sharp presence of statisticians in a variety of labour segments:

(1) manufacturing areas such as chemical, pharmaceutical and medicine, computer and electronic product, and medical equipment and supplies manufacturing;

(2) information sector in sub-areas such as publishing industries, data processing, hosting online servers, and related services;

(3) finance and insurance, credit intermediation, securities, commodity contracts, and insurance carriers;

(4) professional, scientific, and technical services such as architectural, engineering, computer systems design, scientific research in physical sciences, engineering, life sciences, social sciences, and humanities;

(5) management companies and enterprises;

(6) administrative support and waste management and remediation services;

(7) educational services, public and private;

(8) health care and social assistance;

(9) civic, social, professional, and similar organizations;

(10) government, including federal government, postal service, state and local government;

(11) self-employed statisticians.

The following governmental agencies and their many branches frequently have open positions for statisticians at the level of Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D.: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, National Institute of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Security Agency (NSA), Rand Corporation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Environmental Protection Agency, Justice Department, Weights and Measures Office, NASA, and U.S. Navy. 

A glimpse at the existing job openings in private industry would lead us to a large list of nationwide employers, constantly seeking statisticians’ expertise:  Smith Hanley Consulting Group, Astra-Zeneca international pharmaceutical company, Novartis AG , Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Amgen, Biogen, Children’s Hospital Boston, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Accenture  Information Group, SAS Database Company, Thomson Reuters, Cytel, Novartis Institutes For Biomedical Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Vanguard, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Amazon, Google, Bank of America, and Yahoo, only to name a few. 

The versatility of statistics-related jobs only adds to their popularity and attraction. The vast applicability of statistical analyses and consequently the high demand for statisticians’ skills contributes to robust job environments so that “statistician” is often ranked as one of the nation’s best jobs. To give an example, one of the most reliable professional desirability surveys conducted by the private group ranked “statistician” as the 4th best job among 200 different professions in the country in 2011. The survey was based on a variety of factors such as employment growth potentials, income growth potentials, and hiring outlooks. In addition to accommodating job environments, statistical jobs are known for their competitive salary compensations.



The following is a list of the faculty members in statistics with their area of specialization:

Mansour Abdoli, Lecturer, Control Systems, Software Applications, Engineering Statistics

Sam Behseta, Professor of Mathematics, Bayesian Statistics, Statistics in Neuroscience, Bayesian Modeling of Multiple Point Processes, Statistics in Biology, Foundations of Statistics

Gulhan Bourget, Professor of Mathematics, DNA Sequence Analysis and Motif Findings in Upstream Regions of Genes, Genetic Linkage Analysis using SNPs with Missing Data for Complex Traits, and Microarray Data Analysis. 

Mortaza (Mori) Jamshidian, Professor of Mathematics, Statistical Computing, Simultaneous Inference, Analysis of Missing Data, Sample Surveys, Data Modeling

Jessica Jaynes, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Statistical Methods and Applications, Experimental Design and Discrete Choice Experiments

Andrew Loc Nguyen, Lecturer, MCMC, Simulation, Risk Management, Financial Derivatives, Actuarial Sciences, Statistical Software

Kevin Nichols, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Spatio-Temporal Statistics, Point Processes, Environmental Statistics 

Valerie Poynor, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Bayesian Nonparametric Statistics, Survival Analysis, and Neoural Data Analysis

Dwight Wynee, Lecturer, Statistical Methods in Biomedical Engineering



The Statistics faculty actively pursue research programs in diverse areas of statistical theory and application. Undergraduate research is highly regarded, resulting in a significant number of undergraduate poster presentations in local and national conferences, as well as jointly contributed publications by undergraduate scholars. Many of our students participate in Research Experiences for Undergraduates programs, funded by the National Science Foundation. Undergraduate research provides an edge for obtaining admission to graduate schools as well as competing for jobs upon graduation. Our department has had an impressive record in successful admissions of our students to highly regarded Ph.D. programs in top universities such as Carnegie Melon, Penn State, UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, University of Minnesota, and Rice. Moreover, many of our undergraduates obtain continue their graduate studies at CSUF to obtain a Master of Science in Statistics.Opens in new window