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Mathematical Statistics An MSc (Dissertation) in Mathematical Statistics offers students who have excelled in their undergraduate and honours studies an opportunity for advanced study in Mathematical Statistics. The course prepares students who are keen to learn further statistical techniques to deal with data and undertake independent statistical research under the guidance of academic staff.
Mathematical Statistics An MSc (Dissertation) in Mathematical Statistics offers students who have excelled in their undergraduate and honours studies an opportunity for advanced study in Mathematical Statistics. The course prepares students who are keen to learn further statistical techniques to deal with data and undertake independent statistical research under the guidance of academic staff.

Qualification: MSc

Faculty: Science

Duration: 1 -2 years

School: Statistics and Actuarial Science

Study mode: Full-time; Part-time


The degree also offers students an opportunity to go on to do a PhD in mathematical statistics on completion.

Past students graduating from the MSc in Mathematical Statistics Programme have been highly successful in professional practice and a number have progressed to PhD studies in a number of statistics topics like Biostatistics, Reliability, Survival modelling, Statistical modelling, etc. 

Why study Mathematical Statistics?

An MSc Mathematical Statistics should:

  • Prepare you for doing a PhD in Mathematical Statistics, Applied statistics, Statistical modelling, etc.
  • Help you build expertise in analytical approaches and the classical and underpinning theory of mathematical statistics
  • Offer options to focus on applied mathematical statistics if that is your interest and intended career path
  • Provide experience in conducting and communicating statistical investigations and the use of statistical software
  • Prepare you in conducting independent research
Why is this a good programme to do?

This programme teaches you how to handle data, model data, discover patterns in data and make good decisions based on available data. It also gives you the theoretical and applied underpinnings of modern and classical statistical methods  

Why study Mathematical Statistics at Wits?

Wits is one of the top universities in South Africa. It has produced some of the best world-renowned academics. Some of the former lecturers in the school of Statistics and Actuarial science are:

  • John Edmund Kerrich, first head of the Statistics department. Famous for experiments in probability performed while interned (in Denmark) during the Second World War. He was one of the 12 founders of South African Statistical Association.
  • Herbert Sichel developed the Sichel-testimator for the lognormal distribution's t-statistic. He also made great leaps in the area of the generalized inverse Gaussian distribution which became known as the Sichel distribution.
  • Danie Gerhardus Krige  was a South African statistician and mining engineer who pioneered the field of geostatistics. The technique of kriging is named after him. Krige's empirical work to evaluate mineral resources was formalised in the 1960s by French engineer Georges Matheron.
  • Gordon V. Kass, developed the Chi-square automatic interaction detection (CHAID) a a decision tree technique, based on adjusted significance testing (Bonferroni testing).
  • Frank Beichelt a professor in the School whose research focuses on probability theory and mathematical statistics. He is the author books on stochastic modelling in reliability, maintenance, and safety analysis etc..
  • Paul Fatti - Emeritus Professor - University of the Witwatersrand, a former head of school and respected statistician.
What does Wits have to offer?

Wits offers a variety of statistics courses which gives the student a good foundation to excel in a wide range of areas. The statistics staff are versatile, passionate and progressive in their teaching, supervision and research. The environment and culture is supportive and empowering, giving students the confidence to push their boundaries. 

  • Statisticians
  • Data Scientists
  • Ecologists (environmental monitoring, water quality control, species management)
  • Image processing (computer vision, face detection, remote sensing)
  • Biostatistician (designing and analysing clinical trials and epidemiological studies)
  • Financial analysts (designing investment strategies and managing risks in finance)
  • Market researchers (conducting surveys and experiments etc.)
  • Econometricians (investigating the economy at all levels from businesses)
  • Epidemiologist (examine patterns in health and sickness)
  • Operations research and optimization
  • Bio-informatician (study DNA data)
  • Programmer (statistical computing is a highly sought-after skill)
  • Psychometrician (educational measurement or psychological measurement)
  • Statistical physicist (use of statistical mechanics to study thermodynamics)

The MSc (Dissertation) requires a student to do research (Dissertation) totalling 180 credits.

The course duration is a minimum of one year for full-time students and two years for part-time students. 

Students are required to register and submit a research proposal within three months. All MSc (dissertation) students are expected to start working on their research after registration, and are charged supervision fee in both years of registration for part-time students and full-time students.Once, registered a student is expected to consult lecturers in the school to

•       A Bachelor of Science Honours in a related field with a minimum weighted average of 65%.
•       A supervisor from the School must be identified and approached prior to application.

The school considers all applications to the programme, basing on availability of supervisors and minimum academic requirements. These include an Honours degree in Mathematical Statistics, with the Research component contributing at least 25% of the degree (assessed at University of the Witwatersrand equivalence).

The mark requirements are the same as for the MSc (CWRR), but with the additional requirement of a mark of at least 70% for the Statistics Research component of the Honours degree.

In addition to the above, MSc applicants are required to include a  4-5 pages proposal of their proposed research.

Applications for Research Masters and PhD may be lodged at any time during the year.
  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees site also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.