Graduate Certificate in Statistical Genetics

Statistical genetics is a rapidly growing specialty area within the field of biostatistics requiring knowledge of genetics, the technology used to study variability of genes and gene expression in human populations, and specific statistical approaches used to analyze these data. Genetic information is becoming increasingly important in medical research, clinical trials, the pharmaceutical industry, and public health.

Program Goal

The certificate program will provide specialized training and acquisition of skills in analysis of genetic data. Individuals completing the program will be familiar with a variety of types of genetic data (genotyping, expression, sequence data) as well as the statistical methods for data summary and analysis, with an emphasis on analysis relating genetic information to human health outcomes. The Biostatistics Department at the School of Public Health has a very strong group of faculty involved in methodological and applied research in statistical genetics. This certificate program will provide training for those in the biostatistics field to expand their knowledge in this area.

Certificate Program Requirements

  1. Completion of 16 credits of statistical genetics coursework, with a B or better
  2. At least two of these courses must include:
    • SPH BS 858 Statistical Genetics I
    • SPH BS 859 Applied Genetic Analysis or SPH BS 860: Statistical Genetics II
  3. The remaining courses may be selected from among:
    • SPH BS 830 Design and Analysis of Microarray Experiments and Next Generation Sequencing
    • SPH BS 859 Applied Genetic Analysis
    • SPH BS 860 Statistical Genetics II
    • SPH BS 901 Directed Study in Biostatistics (maximum of 4 credits in SPH BS 901 or 902)
    • SPH BS 902 Directed Research in Biostatistics
    • SPH PH 984 Directed Practicum (may replace SPH BS 902 by permission of the program director)

    **Continuing student status may not apply toward the certificate.

  4. Complete and present (or publish) at least one piece of research in the field of statistical genetics. Presentation of the research may take one of several forms:
    • Oral presentation to the Statistical Genetics Working Group (which meets bi-weekly during the academic year)
    • Poster presentation at a Boston University research event such as the Genome Science Institute Research Symposium, BU Science and Engineering Day, BUSPH Research Day, or Biostatistics in Public Health Day (each of which is an annual event that supports student presentations), or
    • Poster or oral presentation (first author position on an abstract) at a national/international meeting (including the Genetic Analysis Workshop held biennially), or
    • Primary authorship on a manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. Primary authorship would be considered first (or joint-first), second or last (or joint-last authorship). Authorship on statistical genetics papers involving large studies or consortium is complex. Students can petition the Statistical Genetics Certificate Program Committee regarding other authorship positions.
    • Research for the certificate may be completed as part of a dissertation or an existing collaboration or project the student is involved in. If the student does not have a research opportunity available to them, they will identify one of the statistical genetics certificate faculty members as a research mentor.

Application Process

To be eligible, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in statistics or biostatistics or a related quantitative field, or hold or be enrolled in a program for an advanced degree (MPH, MA, MS, PhD, or DSc) in a quantitative or genetics-related field, have successfully completed SPH BS 701, SPH BS 703, or SPH BS 704 and SPH BS 723 or the equivalent, as determined by the program director.

The Statistical Genetics Certificate Program is open to all MPH students who meet the prerequisites and are best suited to biostatistics or epidemiology concentrators with a specific interest in analysis of genetic data. Students might need to extend the time and/or credits for the MPH degree to meet the certificate requirements.

  1. Applicants internal to Boston University apply through the Department of Biostatistics at SPH.
  2. External applicants apply through SOPHAS, the central application service for schools of public health.

Materials for admission will be accepted throughout the year and admission is rolling.

Provisions for Non-Degree Students

According to the SPH Non-Degree Registration Policy, non-degree students are limited to enrolling in a maximum of 8 credits of coursework. Non-degree students accepted to the Statistical Genetics Certificate Program will be allowed to enroll in 16 credits total, assuming they meet minimum grade requirements during successive course registrations.

Note: Students from Tufts University are able to register for courses required for the certificate but cannot earn the certificate as cross-registered students, because the limitation in the number of BU credits allowed cannot be extended. They may complete the certificate program as non-degree students.