What is a DRP?

A Directed Reading Program is a one-on-one mentoring program in which graduate students mentor undergrads in reading projects. Initiated by graduate students in mathematics at the University of Chicago in 2003, DRPs now run in mathematics departments (and a growing number of physics departments) across the country. For information on DRPs across the country, see the DRP network website .

What is the SPA DRP?

SPA is the undergraduate Statistics and Probability Association at the University of Washington. Our program matches undergraduates with graduate students in the Department of Statistics or the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Washington. The program was co-created by Anna Neufeld, a Ph.D. student, and Emily Flanagan, an undergraduate student. It ran for the first time during Winter Quarter, 2020.

The number of interested undergraduates typically far exceeds the number of available mentors, and so we are not able to accept all qualified applicants into the program. Undergraduate participants who are accepted may register for one credit of STAT 499.

Program Goals

  • Build community between undergraduates and graduates in the University of Washington department of statistics.
  • Provide undergraduates with opportunities to engage with statistics outside of the traditional curriculum
  • Provide undergraduates with valuable independent learning and communication skills.
  • Encourage undergraduates from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to explore statistics.
  • Provide graduate students with mentoring opportunities

Intended Audience

We invite students from all mathematical, statistical, and personal backgrounds to apply. You do not need to be a statistics major or a perfect student to apply to our program. The program is especially appropriate for students early in their UW career who are considering choosing a major in statistics or a related field, or for students further along in their degree who are considering graduate school or a career in statistics or a related field. We particularly encourage women and members of traditionally underrepresented groups to apply.

There will be projects catered to various levels of statistical experience. We hope that many of our projects will be accessible to students who have completed only Stat 311 or an equivalent. Stat 311 is a course where students should learn the basics of statistical literacy, probability, and inference. Some mentors may specify additional prerequisites for their topic, such as Linear Algebra, CSE 142/143, or Stat 340.

Program Structure

  • Mentor chooses broad topic in statistics and a set of related readings that are accessible to undergraduates.
  • Mentor and mentee meet for 1 hour per week during the 10 week quarter to discuss readings. Undergraduates are expected to spend 3-4 hours per week preparing for these meetings.
  • Midway through the quarter, mentor and mentee transition from reading broad texts to focusing on a specific project that interests the mentee. The mentee begins planning a final talk and writeup with feedback from the mentor.
  • During the last week of quarter all mentors and all mentees attend final presentation session and celebration / pizza party.