Graduate Studies - Statistics/Data Science

This document is originally written by Dr. Ehsan Karim, Assistant Professor (University of British Columbia).

Year of Publication: 2010

Original Source:

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Applying for Admission in Canadian Universities (Especially Statistics Related Courses)

Obviously whether you want to get into 'grad studies' is a big decision to take since it involves a lot of money (for applying fees, for English tests, for sending admission packages, eventually airfare etc.). Then there are social and cultural costs: since going abroad for higher studies will probably mean long years apart from home, family and friends, living in an almost alien environment, not speaking Bengali for days. So, be careful what you wish for: your wish might just come true! Grad studies is basically a life choice, and think hard before you really choose it. If you chose it, but don't know your way around: this is a must read document for you, especially if you are planning to go for Canadian education system.

The Canadian education system encompasses both publicly-funded and private universities. Education institutions are not officially ranked in Canada, as all Canadian educational institutions offer high quality programs. Check the world Rankings instead! As an international student, though, studying without university scholarship / funding is not a reality for most of the people.

Throughout Canada, universities support the graduate international students in the form of Teaching Assistant/Research Assistant income. As most of them are fully funded (covers the whole period of study - which is self-sufficient in most of the cases), getting admission in such universities is very competitive. Those who are interested, please join this workshop to know more about it in general. Basic reasons for the special attraction of Canadian Education: Bright students who prefers to stay in academia, seek to continue their higher studies abroad. They are very eager to get admission in an university in the north America / Canada. The reason is simple - education in north America is incomparable & unbeatable to any other places. People who comes here successfully, finds their inbox filled up once in a while from their country people asking for the information and help about admission process. This document is basically for them. Instead of repeating the same thing for each one of them, now you can just send them this link from now on!!!

North American universities are especially more attractive because the cost of living in north America is relatively less than Europe, finding job is easier with Canadian degree (that does not mean that you will find job in Canada easily - this simply means that the world is open wide for you once you get the degree from here. However, as Canada is filled up with all the competent people already with all their lucrative degrees, it might be harder / competitive to get a job here than any where else!) and overall it has a more achievable bright future. Canada is even easier than United States, because usually one can get a Canadian visa easier (especially after 9-11), can sooner become an immigrant and later a Canadian citizen which is a very valuable status to have. If one can get into north America, they are very close to open doors to anywhere in the world! That is a lot for Asian or African countries mostly, people who due to difficulties of living pursue a better life outside their countries. Comparing to people from European countries, the story is completely different. It is really easy for them to get out of their countries (no visa required, and even if required, its just a simple paper work), it’s pretty easy for them.

A few common things you will probably need to apply successfully: Depending on the requirements of the universities, it varies a lot. But in general, you will be needing the followings at least-

[I] Choose your referees wisely. You have more control over this part of the process than you think. Think of the reference letter as an integral part of the scholarship application package that will present an accurate and complete picture of your achievements and research potential. Your referees should be familiar not only with your academic abilities, but also with your personal interests and background and how those relate to and enhance your ability to carry out the proposed research.

[II] Provide your referees all the information they need to write a strong letter. The more information a referee has to draw from, the better the case for support he/she can make for you. And as an added bonus, discussion around your research proposal can help you clarify your own goals and objectives for the project. Supply a referee with the following information: your CV; your proposed course of study and area of research; a comprehensive draft of your research proposal; your academic record; and a personal statement that includes career goals, interests, and extracurricular activities. Finally, it is vital that the referee knows the selection criteria and weighting (if applicable), the required format and length for the reference letter, where to send it, and the deadline for submission. Always follow up to ensure the letters have been submitted and acknowledge the referee’s support. The most effective reference letter is evidenced-based.

[III] Ask that the adjudication criteria be specifically addressed in the reference letter. Relating your achievements, skills, and research directly to the adjudication criteria strengthens your case for support. Ideally, a reference letter should specifically address your academic excellence, research potential, publication record, oral and written communication skills, and your interpersonal and leadership abilities. A referee should be able to support his/her claims with specific, concrete evidence and comment on your academic achievements in order to indicate your research potential. A reference letter also provides an opportunity to emphasize extraordinary achievements in light of where you are in your program and your research career. To assist your referee, provide information to highlight these relationships.

[IV] Ask the referee to highlight the strengths and explain any weaknesses pertaining to your experience and/or your research. It is helpful if a referee can explain any shortcomings openly and honestly and point out any associated improvements you have made. Mention to your referee that your application is to a competitive scholarship and that you will be judged against a high-caliber pool of applicants. The bottom line: What gives you the edge over others being considered? What makes you memorable? Adjudication committees look for the extra excellence of a student when considering their evaluations. Unique qualities and skills, such as communication and leadership abilities, can be demonstrated through participation in extracurricular and community activities, and volunteer service. Most committees look at what you have already accomplished, but even more so, your potential to accomplish more in the future. If you want best recommendation letters, let the faculties know who you are for a while, be ostentatious if necessary, but not in a negative sense of course. Start volunteering in institute's various works, or get involved in research with them. Show them your potentiality.

See some directions in the following pages:

Selecting the University and/or Department: This obviously does not have a clear-cut solution. There could be several angel by which you could approach this (the following list is not complete) -

On a personal note, this might sound funny, but I had chosen my current university based on this last criteria!Obviously, from Bangladesh, when we first apply, we always tend to aim for top few world ranking universities. Unfortunately, this way, we loose a lot of money for nothing. My suggestion would be to select some universities which are good and you are sort of hoping to get admission there (based on say, last few year's intake). Select only those ranking universities where you absolutely want to apply. Its not a lottery that you buy a ticket and hope for the best. Choosing universities wisely will actually save you from spending a lot of money, trouble and heart breakings. From my experience, i have seen people from Bangladeshi background to get admission in mediocar to good universities first, and then if they perform well there, they can move to better universities. This is just the way it works: step-by-step, for most international students. List of Universities with Statistics Related Programs: Only list for masters program is provided. Please google the name of the university and program to find the relevant site to know more about the program and their requirements. I could do it - but feeling a bit lazy (been there - done that a long time ago : now its your turn). Here is an example though. Make sure you apply for more than one university to increase your chance of acceptance (my experience tells me that its not always straight forward even if you have all the desired criteria. For example, in some particular year, some particular program might run out of funds for an international student).

Source of Money:

There can be many sources of money for students here in Canada:

Cost of Living

Considering all these, I can say that the cost of living in Vancouver starts from somewhere around 1500 CAD Canadian dollars for one person. If you are a family the cost will be less per person. In other cities, the cost might be a bit less (depends on which city you are in). Useful Sites: Please go througth the following sites to know details about this:

If you are looking for a more formal documentation on the above topic, please redirect yourself to the official page of CICIC; Admission to universities and colleges in Canada [The subject material of this article is too general for any particular university - usually its wise to go through specific university official sites for more precise and specific information. This was written based on my personal experience when I went through the entire admission process (blended with some other blog materials relevant to this subject materials - thanks to all of those as well), yet I did not want it to be too restricted on a few universities only. However, on the other end, this is basically written for those who are trying to apply in Canada for graduate admission from Dhaka university in the statistics related fields.]

(LAST UPDATED ON Sept, 2010)