Aug 15, 2020  
Catalog/Bulletin 2020-2021 
    
Catalog/Bulletin 2020-2021

Biostatistics, PhD


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Zhide Fang, PhD
Professor and Program Director

The PhD in Biostatistics is an advanced, research-oriented degree program requiring in-depth study and research in a particular area of emphasis within biostatistics. The core curriculum includes a solid foundation of coursework in advanced statistical methods and statistical theory. Additional coursework may include multivariate methods, nonparametric statistics, mixed models, statistical computing, design and analysis of experiments, clinical trials methodology, bioinformatics, and other advanced statistical methods. PhD students will also receive training in research ethics and hands-on experience in statistical consulting, and gain teaching experience through a formal teaching practicum. Students will have the opportunity to take elective courses in epidemiology and other core disciplines in public health.

The curriculum is designed for students entering with a master’s degree in statistics or biostatistics. Those students entering without a previous relevant master’s degree can expect additional coursework to fulfill prerequisites for taking PhD-level advanced coursework.

Biostatistics Qualifying Process

All PhD students in Biostatistics are required to pass a set of preliminary examinations before being admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree.

Written Comprehensive

The written comprehensive examinations are based on the material in the first year core PhD courses (BIOS 6210, 6212, 7200, 7202, and 7204). These exams consist of three in-class, closed-book written sessions and a take-home applied/data analysis session. These examinations will be written, graded and scored anonymously by the faculty of the Biostatistics Program. A consensus score of Pass or Fail will be assigned to each examination session for each student. The examinations are usually offered shortly after the spring semester in late May or early June.

Oral Prospectus

In addition to the written comprehensive examinations, students must pass an oral examination involving the defense of the students’ research prospectus. This examination should be taken no later than the third year of full-time study. The oral preliminary examination will be given by the students’ Doctoral Advisory Committee and will assess the students’ research prospectus and mastery of discipline in the dissertation area. The students’ PhD advisor will be the Committee Chair.

If students fail either the written or the oral exam, the Doctoral Advisory Committee determines the conditions to be met before another examination may be given, usually to take place the following year.

Entry Requirements


Requirements include differential, integral calculus and multivariate calculus and linear algebra. In some cases, a student deficient in entry requirements may be admitted, provided a plan for remediation is developed and approved by the faculty. Generally, only students who have successfully completed a master’s degree in statistics, biostatistics or a closely related field will be considered for acceptance. A limited number of stipends are available to qualified students on a competitive basis.

Applicants should have strong quantitative aptitude and skills and are reviewed on the basis of the following criteria.

  • Strength of their previous coursework based on grades and coursework with particular emphasis given to courses in statistics, mathematics and computer science.
  • Scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) with emphasis placed on the Quantitative component.
  • Three letters of reference from individuals who can provide an assessment of your quantitative skills and potential for success in the PhD program.
  • Goal letter written by applicant that describes short and long-term goals related to the PhD program and the Biostatistics profession.

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