PhD in Biostatistics

The PhD program in Biostatistics is geared toward the graduate student who seeks a career as an academic, industrial, or governmental biostatistician. The program meets the needs of the professional who wishes to achieve a high graduate degree specialized in statistical theory and methods for biomedical or clinical research applications. Students who complete the PhD program will gain knowledge in probability, statistical inference, and hypothesis testing; the design and conduct of experimental and observational studies; statistical computation; and data analysis. Research interests of the program faculty include estimation and hypothesis testing theory, multivariate analysis, survival analysis, clinical trials methodology, statistical genetics and genomics, disease surveillance, robust statistics, longitudinal data analysis, time series, regression modeling for correlated data, causal inference, and the design of experiments.

Learning Outcomes

A candidate for a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biostatistics is expected to demonstrate mastery of knowledge in biostatistics and to synthesize and create new knowledge, making an original and substantial contribution to the field in a timely fashion by:

  • Demonstrating mastery at a doctoral level of biostatistical theory and application through high achievement in coursework and on written comprehensive examinations.
  • Making an independent, original, and substantial contribution to the field of biostatistics, assessed through an oral defense of the dissertation work.
  • Demonstrating commitment to advancing the values of scholarship by keeping abreast of current advances in the field of biostatistics and showing commitment to personal professional development through engagement in professional societies and publication.
  • Conducting scholarly work in a professional and ethical manner guided by the principles of the profession.

Course Requirements

Students must successfully complete all core courses no later than three years after matriculation. Students must earn a minimum grade of B– in all courses in order to receive credit toward the degree.

Students 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
  • GRS MA 781 Estimation Theory
  • GRS MA 782 Hypothesis Testing
  • SPH BS 805 Intermediate Statistical Computing and Applied Regression Analysis or SPH BS 806 Multivariable Analysis for Biostatisticians
  • SPH BS 853 Generalized Linear Models with Applications or CAS MA 576 Generalized Linear Models
  • SPH BS 857 Analysis of Correlated Data
  • SPH EP 770 Concepts and Methods in Epidemiology
  • SPH PH 700 Foundations of Public Health (for students matriculating in September 2019 or later)
  • A minimum of 24 credits selected from the list of electives on the program website

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 10 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.

Teaching Requirement

One semester of teaching is a curriculum requirement for the PhD program. Students must complete the teaching requirement before defending their dissertation. Students complete the teaching requirement by working as a Teaching Assistant or Co-Instructor for a Biostatistics course for at least one semester.

Doctoral Student Research Presentations

Doctoral student research presentations are held twice a month throughout the academic year. Students who have completed coursework and have passed their qualifying examinations must present the status of their thesis work in at least one seminar per year and attend at least three other research presentations each semester. There are no exceptions.

In addition, students are required to complete at least one 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.

Students who were accepted into the PhD program and have not received a Master of Arts (MA) degree from the Biostatistics Graduate Program can apply to do so, if they have completed 32 credits of courses (as required for the MA) and have passed both the Applied and Theory Qualifying Exams at the master’s level, as determined by the Biostatistics Qualifying Exam Committee.