A Major Dilemma: CAMS (Applied Statistics)

William & Mary has several different majors suitable for those interested in mathematics. A student could choose to major in applied or standard mathematics, and then choose one of their concentrations, or choose to major in math for pre-college teaching. Another option students have is Computational and Applied Mathematics and Statistics (CAMS), which uses an interdisciplinary approach to help students excel in application and modelling. It has two tracks: Applied Statistics, and Mathematical Biology. Both are offered as majors, but at this moment only Mathematical Biology is offered as a minor.

Applied Statistics requires 30 credit hours for the major, and a minimum of 20 credit hours of prerequisites (more may be needed, depending on the electives students choose). There are major requirements in writing, computing, mathematics, and probability and statistics, with 2-3 elective courses in economics, mathematics, and computer science.  There are further graduate courses that students may petition to take as well. See the catalog listing for CAMS Applied Statistics. Those are the details of the major; now, a student in the department has kindly agreed to answer questions about their major!

  1. Why did you choose the major? When I entered college, I knew I wanted to pursue statistics and the name “Applied Statistics” really caught my attention. I eventually decided to declare the major because it allowed me to focus on math courses primarily within the statistics concentration which is where I really wanted to focus my time within the mathematics department.  Additionally, I could gain valuable skills in computer science and apply the statistical concepts I was learning to another field, which in this case is economics. The emphasis on application and the diversity within the major was a major factor in my decision to pursue Applied Statistics rather than a typical math degree.
  2. Favorite thing about the major? My favorite thing about the major is the interdisciplinary aspect. It allows you to take courses within the math, computer science, and economics departments which gives you experience in multiple fields and makes you more well-rounded.
  3. Favorite class you’ve taken in the major and why? MATH 451 Probability has been my favorite class I’ve taken within the major so far. There is a good balance between application and theory. You spend time learning various fascinating techniques used to derive probability distributions, which you then apply to different scenarios. If you take the class with Professor Iaci, he will use a lot of casino games to demonstrate probability applications which gives the class an interesting twist.
  4. Favorite professor(s) in the department? Professor Iaci is definitely my favorite professor in the department. His past experience working as a statistician in a casino allows him to give interesting insight into what it’s like working outside of academia. His passion for statistics is apparent, and he is always super helpful in office hours whether it’s a quick homework question or an entire concept you don’t quite understand from class.
  5. What would you tell someone considering the major? I would encourage someone considering the major to take a course within each of the disciplines (statistics, computer science, and economics) before declaring. By pursuing an interdisciplinary major like Applied Statistics, your time will be divided among multiple fields; therefore, you want to know you have an interest in each aspect of the major to help ensure an enjoyable academic experience.

A big thanks to this student for all their help! If you want to hear about a specific W&M program, message Peer Advising on Facebook, and we’ll incorporate that program into our Major Dilemma series this summer. If you have any questions regarding academic programs or policies, or questions about life at W&M, you can email Peer Advising at OAAPeeradvising@wm.edu.

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