Where appropriate, courses provide for the use of statistical software to analyze problems. The use of software falls roughly into several categories:

  1. The Introductory Statistics course sequence assumes no software background and does some "hand-holding" for certain packages. (See our advice about choosing a package and also our help pages for assistance with the use of software.)
  2. Courses that do not require software
  3. Courses that require general purpose software like SAS, SPSS, etc. See our statistical software pages.
  4. Courses that require specialized software, see our statistical software pages.
  5. Courses that use R, which is open-source and free. (Read about R.)

For non-introductory courses that require general purpose software, the assumption is that you are somewhat familiar with one of these software packages and have used it. These courses may offer limited help with the implementation of specific procedures relevant to the course, but will not teach you how to install and use the software. Most software vendors offer introductory tutorials (either in documentation, online courses or in-person workshops), and we recommend you take advantage of one of these options before you start your course, if you are unfamiliar with the software. "R" is an exception -- offers a number of courses designed specifically to teach R.

For courses that require specialized software, some help is available, though there is an assumption that you are are computer literate and familiar with some statistical software.

In any case, be sure to check the "Software" secion of the course description.


In some cases, has made arrangements with particular vendors to provide software at no charge, or nominal charge, for participants in a particular course. Check this list of software used in courses. In most cases, participants can use their own software, or use trial (demo) versions of commercial software. Instructors tend to be familiar with a limited number of packages and so software illustrations in some courses may use those packages. Also, even comprehensive packages like SAS and SPSS may not offer all methods covered in a particular course. Instructors are available to answer your questions about statistical concepts and methods, but are not typically expected to help debug student software work. In some cases, the teaching assistant may be able to help. With some more open-ended projects involving the use of software, feedback on use of the software may not be part of the scope of the course. Check the course description, and, if necessary, query the course administrator at the beginning of your course if you have any questions about software use and support.

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