Frequently Asked Questions


The course is listed as full (for undergrads). Can I still get in, or wait list, or …?

This has come up before. Aaron Thompson had the following to offer:

With the course currently filled, you unfortunately will not be able to register for it until a seat does become available. We also do not do waitlists for our courses. As we approach the beginning of […] term, if a seat remains available on the graduate side of the course, we can move a seat over for undergraduates, but we typically will not do that until at least one week before the term begins.

My suggestion is to just keep monitoring the registration system for fellow students to drop as they make changes in their schedules and try to register at that time.

The course interests me but as a student in a non-STAT department it says ‘Contact Course Department’

Please contact the Statistics Department, and do not contact the instructors.

As the instructors, we are actually ‘outside the loop’ as far as admission is handled. The department handles this with a preference for within-degree students. If there is availability once the term started students from other departments can register on a first-come first-served basis, so please keep an eye open for it. There is nothing more we can do now by the standard process.

This is an online course, and I will be abroad this term. Can I take it?

Generally, taking it on-campus is preferred. While content is indeed on-line, a large part of the course is (or: was) on-campus. Office hours, project group work and of course the PrairieTest-administered exams / quizzes. So it is best to think of the course as a regular course best taken during a term in which one is present on campus. However, Covid changed a few of these aspects so effectively Fall 2022 will be all-online yet PrairieLearn/PrairieTest still prefer students on-campus. Exceptions can be made, please contact us with a sufficient reason and ideally some sort of confirmation that you will be away from campus the full term.

Does taking STAT 385 prohibit one from taking STAT 447?

In short, no. It is recognized that there is some overlap between the content of STAT 385 and STAT 447. But the overall view of the department is this is still a possible choice for students as STAT 447 goes a little further that STAT 385 and digs a little deeper. Students who are interested in both or either may also consider one of the many other course in the catalogue to broaden their learning experience and knowledge beyond this pair. That said, the combination of taking both is possible.

Is there a pre-requisite?

No. The course has a strong focus of programming methods for use in data science and statistics, and as such there is no direct lead-in or requirement. While STAT 410 was listed as a requirement in the past, it has been decided that we can do away with a formal requirement.

No. The course aims to be suitable for everybody including those with, and without, prior programming experience or classes. Now, given the content of the course, it is likely helpful but anybody willing and able to learn the material should be able to do so during the course.


How can I receive additional help outside of talking with the course staff?

If you wish to hire a private tutor to assist you with the course content, please see the Department of Statistics tutoring page. This page provides the ability to submit a request for assistance from registered tutors.


Can I send you email to ask to have my grade adjusted for no apparent reason?

Please don’t.

Unless an error or omission can be demonstrated for the grade, it should be considered final.

Technical Issues

GitHub tells me the webpage cannot be found

Please make sure you are logged into GitHub. In addition, please make sure that you have paired your GitHub username with us, i.e. the course admins. Pairing is not instanteanous. The process is automatically triggered each evening during the first two weeks.

For additional assistance, please see the GitHub page not found guide, also courtesy of STAT385.

Files at are not accessible

Two requirements have to be met:

  • First, you need to have an Illinois account with so go here if you do not:
  • Second, access has to be with your Illinois (NetId) account, not another account.

Please see TechServices if you still have issues.


GitHub makes me write my username and password on every commit.

Yes, a known issue. See the good writeup in Happy Git With R, Section 10 ‘Cache credentials for HTTPS;. One of the methods mentioned there for Linux works perfectly well for us in RStudio Cloud. The shell command

git config --global credential.helper "cache --timeout=10000000"

or, equally, from R as this command:

system("git config --global credential.helper \"cache --timeout=10000000\"")

will set a timeout of that many seconds – or about sixteen weeks which should get you through the term. The other method is fancier and more powerful: register ssh keys. But that is beyond our scope here.