What is statistics? According to the American Statistical Association, statistics is “the scientific application of mathematical principles to the collection, analysis, and presentation of numerical data.” This can include data from surveys, experiments, and other kinds of observed or recorded information. Their website notes that statistical methods are used in many fields, including “biology, economics, engineering, medicine, public health, psychology, marketing, education, and sports” and that “many economic, social, political, and military decisions cannot be made without statistical techniques.” In addition, statistics is a fundamental tool for most scientific enterprises. For many fields, it is important to be able to use statistical methods directly, and for even more, it is essential to be able to read and understand research that uses statistics.

Why take statistics? There are three main reasons: it is required for a number of majors; it is useful or necessary background for various graduate programs and careers; and it is important to know in order to be an informed citizen.

Which statistics course should I take first? Math/Biol 141 (if you expect to go in a math or bio direction), Psyc 200 (if you expect to head toward psychology, neuroscience and behavior, or cognitive science), or Econ 209 (if economics or another social science interests you most; if you’re also interested in pursuing math, talk with a faculty advisor).

What is the purpose of this website? This website was compiled by a group of Vassar faculty who teach statistics in one form or another.  Its primary goal is to help students navigate through the statistics courses at Vassar, with suggestions on the role different statistics courses might play in a variety of student academic programs.  Feel free to contact one of us if you have questions.

Flow Chart of Statistics Courses at Vassar. Click here for a schematic overview of the statistics courses and their general relationships.