Biostatistics Track

The M.S. in Biostatistics is a two-year program. It is designed to train students to meet the growing need in managed care organizations, medical research, and the pharmaceutical industry for graduates with technical skills in data analysis. In contrast to the more general M.P.H. degree, the M.S. degree emphasizes the mastery of biostatistical skills from the beginning of the plan of study. While graduates of this program may apply to the Ph.D. degree program, the M.S. degree is itself quite marketable as a terminal degree.


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Download the PDF version of the MS course requirements.

The MS in Biostatistics requires a minimum of 14 course units (12 courses plus a Master’s Thesis). The MS in Biostatistics requires the student to complete the following courses. All "a" courses are offered in the fall term, "b" courses are offered in the spring term.

Required Courses

  • BIS 540a, Fundamentals of Clinical Trials (1 Course Unit)
  • BIS 623a, Applied Regression Analysis (1 Course Unit)
  • BIS 625a, Categorical Data Analysis (1 Course Unit)
  • BIS 628b, Longitudinal Data Analysis (1 Course Unit)
  • BIS 630b, Applied Survival Analysis (0.5 Course Unit)
  • BIS 632b, Design and Analysis of Epidemiologic Studies (0.5 Course Unit)
  • STAT 541a, Probability Theory (1 Course Unit)
  • STAT 542b, Theory of Statistics (1 Course Unit)
  • Master’s Thesis (2 Course Units)

In addition to the required courses, students must take five elective courses. Two of these electives must be in Biostatistics or Statistics and one must be in Epidemiology and Public Health (not in Biostatistics).

Master's Thesis

In the second year of the program, the student is required to execute a program of independent
research under the direction of a faculty member. This project usually falls into one of these main areas:

1. Development of a new statistical theory or methodology.
2. A computer-based simulation study to illustrate properties of an existing method.
3. The analysis of a real data set.

The student is required to prepare a written thesis under the supervision of a Biostatistics
faculty member. Upon completion of the thesis, the student will make an oral presentation
of the results of his/her work.

For specific instructions on the organization, mechanics, and publication of the thesis,
see Appendix II: Thesis Guidelines in the Bulletin. 

MS Competencies

Upon receiving an MS degree in Epidemiology and Public Health with a concentration in Biostatistics, the student will be able to:

  • Describe advanced concepts of probability, random variation and commonly used statistical probability distributions.
  • Develop an efficient design for collecting, recording, and storing data collected in the conduct of public health and medical research.
  • Develop sample size and statistical power calculations for basic study designs including those utilized in clinical trials.
  • Design efficient computer programs for study management, statistical analysis, as well as presentation using SAS and other programming languages.
  • Produce edited data sets suitable for statistical analyses.
  • Apply advanced informatics techniques with vital statistics and public health records in the description of public health characteristics and in public health research and evaluation.
  • Perform analyses of stated hypotheses using a variety of analytical tools including analysis of variance, multiple regression, nonparametric statistics, logistic regression, multivariate analyses, and methods for analyzing rates and failure time data.
  • Interpret results of advanced statistical analyses and use these results to make relevant inferences from data.
  • Produce working tables and statistical summaries describing research in health science.
  • Develop written presentations based on intermediate to advanced statistical analyses for both public health professionals and educated lay audiences.
  • Develop oral presentations based on intermediate to advanced statistical analyses for both public health professionals and educated lay audiences.

Prerequisites - Biostatistics Track

The candidate should have an undergraduate degree with major emphasis in a quantitative science. Mathematics majors are typical applicants to the program, although applicants with training in a variety of areas are encouraged to apply. At a minimum, all applicants should have completed the following coursework, with a minimum GPA of B or better, prior to matriculation:

  • One year of calculus and a course in linear algebra
  • A one-year sequence in mathematical statistics
  • Knowledge of statistical computing (SAS and/or S-plus)