Duke - The Fuqua School of Business


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One of the early courses in the MBA curriculum that some students find challenging is DECISION 610W: Probability and Statistics.

About DECISION 610W: Probability and Statistics

Regardless of the setting, management decisions are often made under conditions of uncertainty. The probability and statistics course will introduce a framework for thinking about problems involving uncertainty and, building on this framework, will develop tools for interpreting data and making predictions. You will gain an understanding of statistical modeling concepts and the ability to interpret statistical analyses and use them in making decisions. You will learn what the analysis can do for you, not just learn a few formulas into which one plugs numbers.  The goal is to learn how statistics can be valuable in managerial decision making and to provide an appropriate foundation in probability and statistics for subsequent Fuqua courses.

What You Should Know

We assume basic proficiency with exploratory data analysis (statistical graphics and summary statistics such as the mean, median, mode, and standard deviation).  Familiarity with Excel, with the use of Excel to compute basic summary statistics, and with some basic concepts from algebra will be helpful.  Beyond that, you do not need to understand statistical concepts before taking the course.  The course is self-contained in that regard.

What Other Courses Use These Concepts and Skills?

Practically all courses -- especially Economics, Marketing, Finance, Operations Management, Decision Models, and many electives throughout the program.

What Will Be Covered

The course covers the following concepts:

  1. Introduction to probability, conditional probability, and random variables
  2. Sampling, sampling distributions, estimation, and prediction
  3. Statistical dependence and relationships among variables
  4. Simple and multiple regression
  5. Time series and forecasting

For more details, see the course syllabus (available to admitted students during the pre-reading period).

To Preview or Review on Your Own

We suggest Pre-Program Math Foundations software --  Module III  (available to admitted students only).

If you want some exposure to exploratory data analysis (statistical graphics and summary statistics) beyond what is given in the Math Software, any standard business statistics textbook should be suitable.