PhD in Biostatistics

The goal of the PhD program is to produce biostatisticians who can develop biostatistical methodology that can be utilized to solve problems in public health and the biomedical sciences. In addition, graduates will be prepared to apply biostatistical and epidemiology methodology for the design and analysis of public health and biomedical research investigations. Finally, graduates will be well suited to function as collaborators or team leaders on research projects in the biomedical and public health sciences.

Graduates of the PhD in Biostatistics will have:

  • The ability to develop careers in academia, research institutes, government, and industry;
  • A broad understanding of current statistical methods and practices in the health sciences;
  • A solid theoretical training necessary for the development and study of new statistical methods;
  • The ability to assume all responsibilities of a statistician in collaborative health science research; in particular, the graduate will have experience in the design, data management, analysis, and interpretation of a variety of experimental and observational studies;
  • Experience in writing reports and giving oral presentations describing health science studies.

Degree Requirements

The program consists of 63 credit hours including collaborative research experience, annual evaluations, graduate examinations and the successful completion of a doctoral dissertation. Dissertation research culminates in a final dissertation examination which consists of an oral presentation by the candidate and an examination by the faculty.

Relevant prior graduate work will be taken into consideration in setting up individual programs of study leading to the PhD. The typical course plan consisting of 63 credit hours is designed for students who have not previously completed a MS in Biostatistics. To apply for the PhD program directly a student must possess a Masters degree in statistics, biostatistics, mathematics or applied mathematics from an accredited program or a terminal degree (MD, PHD) in another field and get approval from the graduate program director. Otherwise, applicants should apply for the MS degree.The course plan for a student that has previously completed a MS in Biostatistics will be customized to account for master level courses already taken and therefore the total credit hours required will vary.

Typical Course Plan

The typical course plan consists of 42 credit hours from required Biostatistics courses, 12 credit hours of electives, and a minimum of 9 credit hours of dissertation research. Elective credits include a minimum of six and a maximum of nine credit hours in approved courses from outside the department and a minimum of three and a maximum of six credit hours in Biostatistics electives.

Required Biostatistics Core Courses (42 credit hours)

  • BIOS 810 Clinical Trials (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 820 Statistical Computing (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 825 Nonparametric Statistics (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 830 Experimental Design (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 835 Categorical Data Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 840 Linear Regression (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 845 Survival Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 871 Mathematical Statistics I (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 872 Mathematical Statistics II (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 898 Collaborative Research (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 900 Linear Models (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 902 Bayesian Statistics (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 905 Theory of Statistical Inference (3 credit hours)
  • BIOS 910 Generalized Linear Models (3 credit hours)

Annual Evaluations

Students are evaluated each April by their graduate advisor and the director of the graduate program. These evaluations provide feedback to the student regarding the progress that they are making in a variety of areas: meeting program requirements, classroom performance, and research performance.

Graduate Examination

Qualifying Examination: The Qualifying Examination is given after a student’s third full semester in residence, ensuring the completion of the following courses: Mathematical Statistics I & II, Statistical Computing, Design and Analysis of Experiments, Regression, and Categorical Data Analysis. Passing of the Qualifying Examination as a MS requirement applies. The examination has two purposes: to assess the student’s strengths and weaknesses and to determine whether the student is prepared to continue into the PhD program.

Comprehensive Examination: The Comprehensive Examination is given at the end of a student’s fifth full semester in residence, when a doctoral aspirant has completed the major portion of the course work at a satisfactory level and met all other program, school, and general requirements prerequisite to the comprehensive examination, including the research skills requirement. The examination has two purposes: to assess the student’s strengths and weaknesses and to determine whether the student should continue in the PhD program.

Dissertation Requirement

Dissertation: Students are recognized as candidates for the PhD only after they have passed the Comprehensive Examination and completed all residency and departmental requirements. The candidate must present a dissertation showing the planning, conduct, and results of original research and scholarly activity. The purpose of the dissertation is to encourage and ensure the development of broad intellectual capabilities as well as to demonstrate an intensive focus on a problem or research area.

Final Oral Examination: When the completed dissertation has been accepted by the committee in final draft form, and all other degree requirements have been satisfied, the chair of the committee requests (at least three weeks prior to the date of examination) the Graduate Division to schedule the final oral examination.

Click here to see a flow chart for the Ph.D. Process.


For questions regarding the PhD in Biostatistics program, contact:

Jo Wick, Ph.D.
Assistant Director of Graduate Education, Department of Biostatistics
(913) 588-4790

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