Biostatistics Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general University requirements for admission to graduate study, applicants to the graduate program in Biostatistics are expected to:

  1. Have a bachelor's degree with a major in mathematics, statistics, computer science, the biological, physical or social sciences. Linear Algebra, multivariate calculus and computer programming are required for the successful completion of the program. Highly qualified students who are deficient in these prerequisites may make up such deficiencies;
  2. Provide three letters of recommendation from academic advisors or other faculty members familiar with the applicant;* and
  3. Submit official scores of the Graduate Record Examination or Medical College Aptitude Test.

* For candidates whose academic record predates the application by five years or more, letters of recommendation may be submitted by supervisors.

Program/Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. Program of study and research normally takes at least four academic years of full-time study and research beyond the baccalaureate. The general program requirements call for a minimum of two years of full- time graduate study (60 credits), or the equivalent, and at least one additional year devoted to the research and writing of an acceptable dissertation. Students must also adhere to the University's requirements as described earlier in this publication.

During the first two years of study the student obtains a general education in statistical theory and methodology. The student develops a program of coursework under the guidance of a faculty advisor and, upon successful completion of the course work, usually receives a Master's Degree at the end of the second year. A Master's Degree is not a prerequisite, but the requirements for one of the Master's Degree Programs described above must be completed by the end of the second year.

A PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION is required and the student normally takes this by the end of the second year of study. The Preliminary Examination has two sections: mathematical statistics and probability, and statistical methodology and applied statistics. A passing score is required for each section. The courses required for the preliminary examination are offered each year and they can be satisfactorily completed in two years. Students entering the doctoral program are encouraged to take some work (3-9 credit hours) in mathematics and at least six graduate credit hours in departments other than Biostatistics.

After successfully passing the preliminary examination, the student begins the process of specialization under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Readiness to begin the dissertation is marked by completion of the QUALIFYING EXAMINATION, which should take place within 18 months after passing the preliminary examination. Upon completion of the qualifying examination, the student advances to candidacy and begins work on the dissertation.

Research Tool

The research tool requirement for the doctoral degree is met by satisfactorily demonstrating computer literacy; competency is evaluated by the faculty.

Full Time Study in Residence

Students are not required to study full time.

Admission to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory record in course and research study (minimum GPA of 3.0);
  2. Completion of the University's residence requirement;
  3. Satisfactory completion of research tool requirement;
  4. Satisfactory completion of the preliminary and qualifying examinations; and
  5. Approval by the student's committee of a proposed dissertation topic.


The dissertation is based on independent research by the candidate and should constitute a significant original contribution to the area of biostatistics. The dissertation committee consists of at least three members, all of whom must hold the rank of assistant professor or above. One of the committee members must be from outside the Department of Biostatistics. Outside readers may be included at the discretion of the committee. The dissertation must be approved by and successfully defended before the dissertation committee; the defense is open to the University community.