PhD in Biostatistics

The PhD in Biostatistics program is geared toward the graduate student who seeks a career as a professional, academic, or industrial biostatistician in biomedical or epidemiologic sciences. The program meets the needs of the health professional who wishes to continue with public health training and achieve a higher and more specialized degree as well as the statistician who wishes to specialize in statistical methods for biomedical or epidemiologic applications.

Course Requirements

Students must successfully complete all core courses no later than three years after matriculation. The remaining courses must come from the list of biostatistics or elective courses found on the program website. Students must earn a minimum grade of B- in all courses in order to receive credit toward the degree.

Post-Bachelor’s Requirements

Students in the PhD program entering with only a bachelor’s degree must complete a total of 64 credits. Course requirements are as follows:

  • CAS MA 575: Linear Models
  • CAS MA 581: Probability or MET MA 581: Probability
  • CAS MA 582: Mathematical Statistics or MET MA 582: Mathematical Statistics
  • SPH EP 713: Introduction to Epidemiology
  • SPH BS 805: Intermediate Statistical Computing and Applied Regression Analysis
  • SPH BS 852: Statistical Methods in Epidemiology
  • SPH BS 853: Generalized Linear Models with Applications
  • GRS MA 781: Estimation Theory
  • GRS MA 782: Hypothesis Testing
  • 29 credits in elective courses

Post-Master’s Requirements

Students entering the PhD program with an MA may be accepted into an eight-course (32 credits) post-master’s PhD program. However, they may be required to take extra courses if there are deficiencies in their background. For post-master’s PhD students, the core courses required will be determined at the start of their program by the co-directors.

Language Requirements

There is no foreign language requirement for this degree.

Qualifying Examinations

The doctoral candidate must satisfactorily pass two comprehensive written examinations upon completion of coursework. These will require proficiency in the material covered in the nine 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. Students must pass at least one qualifying examination no later than three years after matriculation and pass both exams no later than four years after matriculation.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

Candidates shall demonstrate their abilities for independent study in a dissertation representing original research or creative scholarship. A prospectus for the dissertation must be completed and approved by the readers, the director of graduate studies, and the department chair/program director. Candidates must undergo a final oral examination in which they defend their dissertation as a valuable contribution to knowledge in their field and demonstrate a mastery of their field of specialization in relation to their dissertation. All portions of the dissertation and final oral examination must be completed as outlined in the GRS General Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree.

Doctoral Dissertation Presentations

Seminars are held twice a month throughout the academic year for student presentations. Students who have completed coursework and have passed their qualifying examinations must (a) present the status of their thesis work in at least one seminar per year, and (b) attend at least one seminar each month. There are no exceptions.

In addition, students are required to complete a paper based on their dissertation that is ready to submit to a peer-reviewed journal for consideration of publication, and be listed as first author. The article must conform to the requirements of a specific statistical or otherwise appropriate journal.