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Online Statistics Graduate Correlates Academic and Professional Success

Chelsea ross smiling posed in front of a pond and buildings.

For Chelsea Ross, a principal data scientist at Sealed Air and a student in NC State’s online Master of Statistics program, graduate studies augmented her academic and professional success. When she wasn’t at work developing cutting-edge technology and packaging solutions, she was making progress toward a degree that would not only enhance her expertise, but her clients’ satisfaction. 

In 2013, Ross graduated from East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Mathematics. Upon entering the workforce as a data scientist, she realized that she required a better understanding of statistics to excel in her field. She turned to NC State Online for a graduate degree based on flexibility and quality. 

While managing work, school and leisure is a challenge commonly faced by graduate students, Ross made sure that each of these areas would enrich, rather than hinder each other. She applied her studies immediately, referencing lecture notes and homework on the job. As a result, she found herself improving at work and learning course material simultaneously.

“Being able to take what I was learning directly to my job really helped the concepts sink in and become more relevant, and also helped my work become more rigorous,” says Ross. 

Her experience demonstrates the ways in which online education makes a difference both during and after its completion, adding “the course work in this program has given me the tools, understanding, and confidence to build more careful, powerful, and accurate data analyses in my job.”

Ross established these skills in courses like Fundamentals of Statistical Inferences (ST 501) and Fundamentals of Linear Models (ST 503), which she notes as valuable subjects. While Ross once considered using the internet to teach herself, she says that courses like these provide an unparalleled learning experience and a heightened understanding of the entire discipline. And with instructors like DELTA Faculty Fellow Justin Post, the program’s impact was undeniable. 

“All of the professors I had were fair, challenging, and made the material so much easier to understand,” she says. 

Her advice to other professionals who want to continue their education? Go for it. 

“No time is perfect to go back to school. If you enroll, you’ll make time to get the work done. If you wait until you have the time, you’ll never enroll.”

Ross also recommends taking advantage of summer sessions and scheduling one class per semester for full-time professionals, a strategy familiar to online Master in Counselor Education graduate Brandy Arellano. And though her time as an online student is coming to an end, Ross plans to keep course material on hand. Before each exam, she created one-page study guides which she’ll continue to use as “real-world statistics cheat sheets.” 

As Ross nears Commencement with the Department of Statistics at SAS Hall on Thursday, December 19, she looks forward to a night of celebration and reflects on her accomplishment. 

“I’m glad I completed the program, and I definitely feel like it was worth it. The online format opens up the program to a lot of people that otherwise wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Are you interested in an online and distance education program at NC State? Visit for a complete listing of program, certificate and licensure opportunities.