MA in Biostatistics

Overview of the MA Degree

The Master of Arts in Biostatistics program is aimed primarily at students with the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree who wish to pursue advanced study in the theory and methods of biostatistics. The program prepares students to function as collaborators on research projects in academia, industry, or government, and prepares students for doctoral programs.

MA Degree Requirements

The School of Public Health (SPH) and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) require students pursuing a Master of Arts in Biostatistics to:

  • Complete the 32-credit curriculum
  • Fulfill the Residency Requirement
  • Fulfill the Language Requirement
  • Fulfill the Grade Requirement
  • Pass the Qualifying Examinations
  • Complete the MA degree within three years

Course Requirements

Students in the MA program must complete a total of 32 credits as follows:

Six core courses (23 credits):

  • CAS MA 575 Linear Models (4 cr)
  • CAS MA 581 Probability or MET MA 581 Probability (4 cr)
  • CAS MA 582 Mathematical Statistics or MET MA 582 Mathematical Statistics (4 cr)
  • SPH EP 713 Introduction to Epidemiology (3 cr)
  • SPH BS 805 Intermediate Statistical Computing and Applied Regression Analysis (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 852 Statistical Methods for Epidemiology (4 cr)

Elective courses (9 credits):

  • CAS MA 576 Generalized Linear Models (4 cr)
  • CAS MA 583 Introduction to Stochastic Processes (4 cr)
  • CAS MA 584 Multivariate Statistical Analysis (4 cr)
  • CAS MA 585 Time Series Modeling and Forecasting (4 cr)
  • CAS MA 586 The Design of Experiments (4 cr)
  • CAS MA 587 Sampling Design: Theory and Methods (4 cr)
  • CAS MA 588 Nonparametric Statistics (4 cr)
  • CAS MA 685 Advanced Topics in Statistics (4 cr)
  • GRS MA 751 Advanced Statistical Methods II (4 cr)
  • GRS MA 781* Estimation Theory (4 cr)
  • GRS MA 782* Hypothesis Testing (4 cr)
  • GRS MA 861* Seminar: Applied Mathematics (4 cr)
  • GRS MA 882 Seminar: Statistics (limit 4 credits) (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 722 Design and Conduct of Clinical Trials (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 728 Public Health Surveillance—a Methods Based Approach (2 cr)
  • SPH BS 775 Applications of Statistical Methods in Clinical Research (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 810 Meta-analysis for Public Health and Medical Research (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 820 Logistic Regression/Survival Analysis (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 821 Categorical Data Analysis (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 822 Advanced Statistical Computing (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 830 Design and Analysis of Microarray Experiments (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 845 Applied Statistical Modeling and Programming in R (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 850 Computational Biology (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 851 Applied Statistics in Clinical Trials I (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 853 Generalized Linear Models with Applications (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 854* Bayesian Methods in Clinical Trials (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 855 Bayesian Modeling for Biomedical Research (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 857 Analysis of Correlated Data (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 858 Statistical Genetics I (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 859 Applied Genetic Analysis (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 860 Statistical Genetics II (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 861 Applied Statistics in Clinical Trials II (4 cr)
  • SPH EP 813* Intermediate Epidemiology (4 cr)
  • SPH EP 854† Modern Epidemiology (4 cr)
  • SPH EP 855† Design Issues in Epidemiology (4 cr)
  • SPH EP 856† Selected Topics in Epidemiologic Methods (4 cr)
  • SPH BS 901** Directed Study in Biostatistics (variable credit)
  • SPH BS 902** Directed Research in Biostatistics (variable credit)

* Must obtain permission from academic advisor and/or instructor to take this course as an elective.
† Only one of these three courses may count as an elective.
** A maximum of 4 credits is allowed across these two courses.

Residency Requirement

The minimum residency requirement is the equivalent of two consecutive regular semesters of full-time graduate study at Boston University. Students must be registered in both the semester in which the last degree requirements are completed and in the preceding semester. For further information on residency requirements, see the Policies section of this website.

Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate proficiency in reading the biostatistical literature in a language other than English. International students may use English to fulfill the language requirement. Students who have not previously completed at least two years of study in foreign language at the undergraduate level or the equivalent must make up the deficiency through coursework or examination.

Grade Requirement

Students must earn a grade of B− or better in all courses applied to the MA.

Qualifying Examination

The MA candidate must satisfactorily pass two comprehensive written examinations upon completion of coursework. These will require proficiency in the material covered in the six core courses. Students are allowed two attempts to pass a qualifying exam. The Biostatistics Qualifying Exam Committee will evaluate requests by students to take an exam for the third time on a case-by-case basis.

Time Limit

The MA program must be completed within three years after the first registration for study leading to the MA degree.

Diploma Application

Diploma applications and calendar are available in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) Records office, 705 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 112; or online at the GRS Graduate Information website.