STAT 580 / STAT 581: Statistical Consulting Practicum I & II

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course overview

STAT 580 (2 credits) and STAT 581 (1 credit) are two separate courses that are taken one after the other; STAT 580 one semester followed by STAT 581 a subsequent semester.  Students enroll in the online courses at the end of their program of study. (Online sections of STAT 580 and STAT 581 are for World Campus Master of Applied Statistics students only).

The overall objectives of STAT 580 / STAT 581 statistical consulting practicum  is:

  • to provide statistics students with practical consulting and communication skills, such as how to present results verbally and in a written report, and
  • how to work cooperatively with other researchers.

course topics

STAT 580 - Statistical Consulting Practicum I

STAT 580 is a course in applied statistics, providing training in statistical consulting. Applications of commonly encountered statistical methods are explored in the consulting environment. Written and oral communication skills are emphasized, and ethical aspects of consulting are introduced. STAT 580 provides students with an opportunity to gain practical experience in consulting through various projects with clients, some through the Statistical Consulting Center.

Tentative course topics for STAT 580 may include:

  • About Consulting
    • Communication
    • Asking Questions
    • Managing a Session
    • Dealing with Difficult Clients
    • Consulting from Start to Finish
  • Technical Aspects of Consulting
    • Designed Experiments and Sampling
    • Observational Studies
    • Survey Studies
    • Mixed Models with SAS Proc Mixed
    • Categorical Data Analysis Power Analysis
    • Non-Parametric Statistics
    • Missing data
    • Sampling

STAT 581 - Statistical Consulting Practicum II

The focus of STAT 581 is the completion of a capstone project as well as participating in the online discussion.

Students will pick a topic that is scientifically interesting and statistically challenging, write a proposal for the topic to get approved, write a capstone report, review your peer’s reports, and present your project to the rest of the class. The format of the capstone report usually depends on the nature of the project. If the project is more like a consulting project, then the report should read like a consulting report. If the project is more like independent research, the report should read like a research paper.  The capstone report will undergo a peer-review process where each student will read two other reports and provide comments.

The capstone project is considered a graduation project in the MAS program. In the capstone project students will complete the entire project on their own along with a complete analysis. Students are asked to find an appropriate topic in which they can apply the techniques they have learned in the MAS program. Students complete the capstone project as if you are they were a professional statistical consultant that requires you to produce results for a client.

All capstone projects culminate in a written project report and presentation video.


STAT 502 and STAT 503 or STAT 504 or STAT 506. (Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in this practicum as a capstone experience at the end of their program of study.)


Cabrera, J. and McDougal, A. 2002. Statistical Consulting. Springer: New York. (Required for STAT 580)


In STAT 580 SAS is the software that shall be used for all in-class demonstrations of statistical analyses, assignments, and projects. You will need to have access to your own copy of SAS, (SAS 9.1.3, SAS 9.2 or SAS 9.3) Please make sure that you visit Statistical Software page for the latest information about SAS.

In STAT 581 students may use the statistical software that they prefer.

assessment plan

STAT 580 (2 credits) / STAT 581 (1 credit)

You will receive grades on written assignments and draft and final versions of your reports for clients. Client reports and other assignments will be graded with respect to Process, Communication Skills, and Technical Accuracy:

  • Process: Following course guidelines (e.g., completeness of process ) and displaying responsible/professional behaviors.
  • Communication: Quality of written work, including demonstration of a solid understanding of the client’s question, absence of spelling and grammatical errors, and clear presentation of statistical concepts using easy to understand narrative and non-jargon term.
  • Technical Accuracy: Appropriateness of methods proposed given the client’s statistical background and data.

academic integrity

All Penn State policies regarding ethics and honorable behavior apply to this course. Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception and is an educational objective of this institution. All University policies regarding academic integrity apply to this course. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating of information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students.

For any material or ideas obtained from other sources, such as the text or things you see on the web, in the library, etc., a source reference must be given. Direct quotes from any source must be identified as such.

All exam answers must be your own, and you must not provide any assistance to other students during exams. Any instances of academic dishonesty WILL be pursued under the University and Eberly College of Science regulations concerning academic integrity. For more information on academic integrity, see Penn State's statement on plagiarism and academic dishonesty.

The Eberly College of Science Code of Mutual Respect and Cooperation embodies the values that we hope our faculty, staff, and students possess and will endorse to make The Eberly College of Science a place where every individual feels respected and valued, as well as challenged and rewarded.


Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 814-863-1807 (V/TTY). For further information regarding ODS, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site at

In order to receive consideration for course accommodations, you must contact ODS and provide documentation (see the documentation guidelines at If the documentation supports the need for academic adjustments, ODS will provide a letter identifying appropriate academic adjustments. Please share this letter and discuss the adjustments with your instructor as early in the course as possible. You must contact ODS and request academic adjustment letters at the beginning of each semester.