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Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics

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Ph.D. Degree Program

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

Ph.D. 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 consisting of an oral presentation by the candidate and an examination by the faculty.

Relevant prior graduate work is taken into consideration in setting up individual programs of study leading to the Ph.D. The typical course plan consisting of 63 credit hours is designed for students who have not previously completed a M.S. in biostatistics. The course plan for a student who has previously completed a M.S. in biostatistics is customized to account for master's-level courses already taken; therefore the total credit hours required will vary.

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 6 and a maximum of 9 credit hours in approved courses from outside the department and a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6 credit hours in biostatistics electives.

Required Biostatistics Ph.D. Core Courses (42 credit hours)

BIOS 810 Clinical Trials 3
BIOS 820 Statistical Computing/SAS Base L1 3
BIOS 825 Nonparametric Methods 3
BIOS 830 Experimental Design 3
BIOS 835 Categorical Data Analysis 3
BIOS 840 Linear Regression 3
Survival Analysis 3
BIOS 871 Mathematical Statistics
BIOS 872 Mathematical Statistics II 3
Bayesian Statistics 3
BIOS 890 Linear Models 3
BIOS 898 Collaborative Research 3
Theory of Statistical Inference 3
Generalized Linear Models 3

Annual Evaluations

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

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is given after a student’s third full semester in residence, assuming the completion of the following courses: Mathematical Statistics I and II, Statistical Computing, Design and Analysis of Experiments, Regression, and Categorical Data Analysis. Passing the qualifying examination as an M.S. requirement applies. The examination has 2 purposes: to assess the student’s strengths and weaknesses and to determine whether the student is prepared to continue in the Ph.D. 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 skill and responsible scholarship requirement of the university.

The examination has 2 purposes: to assess the student’s strengths and weaknesses and to determine whether the student should continue in the Ph.D. program.


Students are recognized as candidates for the Ph.D. only after they have passed the comprehensive examination and completed all residence 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. This work is carried out under the guidance of a thesis adviser.

Final Oral Examination

When the completed dissertation has been accepted by the thesis committee in final draft form and all other degree requirements have been satisfied the chair of the committee requests (at least 3 weeks before the date of the examination) the Graduate Division to schedule the final oral examination.

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