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Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics

The PhD in Biostatistics is jointly administered by the Department of Biostatistics at the School of Public Health and the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. The 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 and the statistician who wishes to specialize in statistical methods for biomedical or epidemiologic applications.

Students who complete the PhD program will gain knowledge in probability, statistical inference and hypothesis testing, the design and conduct of experimental and epidemiological studies, statistical computation, and data analysis. Research interests of the faculty include multivariate analysis, survival analysis, medical statistics, clinical trials methodology, statistical genetics, surveillance, robust statistics, longitudinal data analysis, time series, regression, estimation theory, and the design of experiments.


Applications for the PhD in Biostatistics program must be completed on the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences website. The deadline for fall admission is December 15. We do not have spring admission.

Requirements for Admission

  • At least the equivalent of bachelor of arts degree; no specific undergraduate major is required
  • One year of calculus, including multivariate calculus
  • One formal course in linear algebra (with a minimum of four credits)
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • One-page personal statement
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official report of GRE scores from within the past 5 years (school code is 3087)
  • Official report of TOEFL scores for applicants whose native language is not English
  • NEW: Previous coursework document (click to download)

Degree programs at SPH permit full- or part-time study, with afternoon and evening courses.

Graduate programs are jointly administered by the SPH Department of Biostatistics and the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Program degrees are the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.


Students admitted to the PhD program (post-master or post-bachelor) in Biostatistics at Boston University as a full-time student will receive five years of financial-aid in the form of fellowship or assistantship support. The financial-aid package will consist of a stipend as well as a scholarship to cover tuition, mandatory fees, and individual basic health insurance. A student may be appointed as a Doctoral Research Assistant (RA) or Training Grant Fellow (TG).


Eligibility (RA): All eligibility requirements for admission must be met. All qualified PhD applicants (international as well as domestic students) who intend to pursue their education as a full-time student are eligible to receive financial aid through Doctoral Research Assistantship.

How to apply (RA): Eligible individuals who are interested in being considered for Doctoral Research Assistantship must complete the standard online application for the PhD program in Biostatistics by December 15th. No separate application for financial aid is required. Checking “yes” for the question “Do you wish to be considered for Boston University financial aid?” on the Application for Admission serves as an official application for financial aid.


We offer a limited number of funding slots through the Interdisciplinary Training for Biostatisticians Program, which is a Training Grant (TG) funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences representing several institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Eligibility (TG): All eligibility requirements for admission must be met. Qualified PhD applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and intend to pursue their education as a full-time student are eligible to apply for financial aid through the training Grant Fellowship. The fellowship is designed primarily for students entering the Biostatistics PhD program at the post-bachelor level. Applications from students entering the program at the post-master’s level are considered as appropriate.

How to apply (TG): Eligible students who are interested in being considered for the TG Fellowship must complete the standard online application for the PhD program in Biostatistics by December 15th. Additionally, applicants must submit one page statement indicating their interest in the TG and how this program will enhance their educational and career goals. This statement along with the standard online application for the PhD program in Biostatistics must be submitted by December 15th (Note: the Training Grant Statement must be submitted as a separate document from the Personal Statement which is required for the standard Application for Admission).


For more information, please visit GRS’s financial aid page for fellowships and scholarships and BUSPH’s financing your education page for additional internal and external funding opportunities.

All requests or questions related to admissions and financial aid should be sent to biostat@bu.edu. Applicants should not directly contact faculty members regarding admissions or funding opportunities.

Program of Study

Students entering with a bachelor’s degree must complete a total of 64 credits.
Students entering with a master’s degree must complete at least 32 credits.

It is expected that students take courses from both the Biostatistics Department in the School of Public Health and the Mathematics & Statistics Department in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Upon completion of coursework, each student must pass Qualifying Examinations.

The dissertation work must address a relevant question in statistical methodology and pose a new approach, extend an existing approach, or provide novel application of an existing method. When the dissertation is completed, the candidate defends his or her work before the dissertation committee. More information about the dissertation requirements is available in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Bulletin.

Required Core Courses:

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

Complete list of required and elective courses.

For complete information on the PhD in Biostatistics program of study, please review the PhD handbook 2014-2015 and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Bulletin.

For more information about the program, please email biostat@bu.edu.

    Biostatistics Program Newsletter Fall 2013 (pdf)