MSc Mathematics Vs MSc Statistics: Which One To Choose For A Data Science Role

A postgraduate degree in mathematics or statistics can be a great launch to your data science career

A solid foundation in mathematics and statistical concepts is mandatory to make a career in data science. Though many in India who become data scientists come with an engineering degree, computer science being the most common one, a postgraduate degree in mathematics or statistics can be very helpful too. But which one will you choose? Despite the two courses having overlapping concepts, they do come with many differences:

Let’s look at what the two courses in India teach you:

MSc in Statistics

  • It is usually a two-year offline course provided by leading universities.
  • Provides deep understanding of statistical theory and model construction.
  • Includes topics like probability, linear models, time series analysis, Econometrics.
  • It also introduces students to languages like R, Python to analyse datasets. This can help students immensely if they want to make a career in data science.
  • Teaches students to use statistics in real-life scenarios and business settings.

MSc in Maths

  • This is also a two-year offline course that leading universities provide.
  • Dives into core mathematical concepts. Provides in-depth knowledge in applied mathematics.
  • Includes topics like real analysis, algebra, number theory, topology, probability theory, linear programming, field theory, complex analysis, differential geometry, etc.
  • Computer programming is included in some universities and colleges.

Top places to study MSc Statistics

  • Indian Statistical Institute – The M Stat course offered by this premier institute is one of the best the country has to offer. It provides advanced-level training in the theory, methods and applications of statistics. The eligibility to pursue this course is relevant graduation from a recognised college. Candidates should have a minimum aggregate of 55% or its equivalent CGPA. ISI conducts an admission test and a subsequent interview for admission.
  • IITs (Indian Institute of Technology)- Many of the IITs provide advanced courses in statistics. IIT Kanpur’s statistics course aims to hone mathematical interests, motivate research in mathematical sciences and train computational scientists to work on real-world problems. Placement of students in the M.Sc. (Integrated) and M.Sc. (2 years) statistics programmes have been almost 100 per cent during the past ten years, said the institute. IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Roorkee, IIT Guwahati, etc., also provide mathematics and statistics courses.
  • Loyola College, Chennai – It provides undergraduate and postgraduate courses in statistics. In 1982, the department was upgraded into a postgraduate department with the introduction of the M Sc (Statistics) programme. It also provides research options with the introduction of the M Phil Programme in 1985 and the Ph D program in 1988.
  • Madras Christian College offers programmes focused on statistics, computer applications, managerial economics, and operational research. It has a ‘Gift Sironomey Statistical Computing Laboratory.’ The college provides practical training to the students by conducting public opinion, socio-economic and tribal surveys. 

Top places to study MSc Mathematics

  • Tata Institute of Fundamental Research aims to develop research that draws inspiration from and connects to different mathematical disciplines. It also encourages students to collaborate with scientists in areas like biology, physics, social sciences, earth sciences, and computer science.
  • Chennai Mathematical Institute – It is a centre of excellence for teaching and research in the mathematical sciences. In 1998, CMI wanted to reduce the gap between teaching and research in India by starting graduate and postgraduate programs in Mathematics and allied subjects.
  • Institute of Maths and Applications -The Government of Orissa, established the Institute of Mathematics and Applications in 1999. It conducts advanced research in pure and applied mathematics. It provides masters and PhD degrees in mathematics, computation, computational finance, and data science.
  • IITs, ISI – Along with statistics courses, IITs and ISI also provide advanced mathematics courses. The M Math course of ISI allows students to pursue research or an academic career in mathematics. They can also work in areas like probability theory and theoretical computer science.

Both of these courses can be great starting points for a data science career. Students passing out from these colleges or similar programmes often get hired as business analysts, data science consultants, or even direct data scientist roles. If someone wants to deep dive into core mathematical concepts to solve real-world problems, getting a masters in mathematics will be a good option. If you want to learn more about analysing data, learn about statistical theory. If you want to build models, then a postgraduate degree in statistics will be a better fit

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Sreejani Bhattacharyya
I am a technology journalist at AIM. What gets me excited is deep-diving into new-age technologies and analysing how they impact us for the greater good. Reach me at

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