Welcome to the Department of Statistics at Brigham Young University!

In the mid 1950’s Brigham Young University President Ernest L. Wilkinson invited Howard Nielson (an academic from the Stanford Research Institute) to join him in a specific study to predict overall church membership as well as university-aged church membership through the year 2000.  After coming to BYU and completing the study, Nielson was hired as faculty and taught statistics for four different departments. Nielson was offered a position with IBM, but instead of accepting their position he proposed the formation of a Statistics Department at BYU. As a result, the Department of Statistics was established in 1960. Since that time there have been over 1300 Bachelor Degrees and 400 Master Degrees awarded by the department.

The Statistics Department’s goal is to help students develop their intellect and faith. To accomplish this we offer a premier undergraduate educational experience. We also prepare our master’s students for successful and productive careers. The department has a 100% post-graduation placement for master’s students. There are currently 18 faculty members, 5 adjunct faculty, and 1 visiting instructor. The department currently has 19 master students, 12 integrated students (students working on their BS and MS at the same time), and about 450 undergraduate students enrolled.

Two of our newest projects are —“Sports Analytics”, and “Mortality in the Mormon Pioneer Immigration.” The Sports Analytics project maintains a large database including BYU data from athletic teams as well as data from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, NCAA Football, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, and the National Men’s and Women’s Volleyball teams. These databases are used to help students learn to define problems that can be handled using the data, and then building statistical models. 

A team of students gathered information and analyzed the mortality experience of the Mormon pioneer wagon and handcart companies migrating west to Utah. These data and the resulting statistical models have been used to answer questions such as “How prevalent was death on the Mormon Pioneer Trail?” and “Was a handcart pioneer at greater risk than a pioneer using a covered wagon?”

Thank you for your interest in our program. Please feel free to drop by and visit our department in person!

Dr. H. Dennis Tolley
Department Chair