According to current Statistics student Matthew DiSorbo, “Stat concentrators now have the world at their fingertips”. This increasingly common sentiment is reflected in the rising number of statistics concentrators at Harvard, which underwent steady growth over the last 7 years, to become the second largest concentration in the FAS Science division.
The growing interest in Statistics, explored in a recent article in the Harvard Crimson, is due to a several factors, including recent changes within the department designed to make statistics classes both more accessible and cross-disciplinary. One example is Statistics 110 “Introduction to Probability”, a course taught by co-director of undergraduate studies in Statistics, Joseph K. Blitzstein, which is currently the fifth most popular course at Harvard. Another is Statistics 102: Introduction to Statistics for Life Sciences,” which Professor David Harrington recently redesigned to hold greater appeal for life science concentrators and pre-med students.
Statistic’s rise in popularity is also due to external factors including the global rise of data science and related research opportunities. The flexibility afforded by statistics training was cited as a draw by Michele Zemplenyi, a former Statistics concentrator, who following graduation took a job in business data analytics and is now a second year Biostatistics PhD student. According to Zemplenyi, “What’s nice about statistics is that you don’t actually have to pick a statistics subject area right away because many of the tools that you learn as a Statistics concentrator can be applied to a number of areas”.