Academics : Ph.D. in Biostatistics

Ph.D. in Biostatistics

The Ph.D. in Biostatistics, offered through the Division of Biostatistics in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine, provides a flexible curriculum to cover the basics.

Depending on their background, a student will follow either a Track A and Track B stream to completion of the Ph.D. All students will be required to take elective courses referred to as cognates which will be linked in a substantive way to the Ph.D. dissertation. See below for details.


All students are required to take a minimum of four 3-credit graduate courses in specific topics referred to as cognates which will be related in a substantive way to the Ph.D. dissertation. Extra criteria requiring courses closely related to the student’s thesis work, or that a member in a subject matter discipline be on the student’s advisory committee, may apply in some cases. The cognate requirement will enable students to produce a biostatistically-sophisticated Ph.D. thesis and provide outstanding opportunities for graduates.

Track A: Students who meet prerequisite requirements

(1) A minimum of three semesters of calculus, including partial derivatives and techniques for solving multiple integrals, (2) One semester of linear algebra, (3) One semester of probability theory, (4) Four additional courses in statistics or biostatistics. The four courses are to include a general introduction, linear regression, introductory mathematical statistics and at least one more course (commonly drawn from survey sampling, multivariate, time series, nonparametrics, etc.), and (5) At least two additional courses in statistics, biostatistics or related fields.

Track B: Do not meet all prerequisite requirements

During the first year, students are expected to make up any deficiencies. This will be decided on a case-by-case basis by the graduate program director. It is rare for the department to admit students in Track B and is only done in exceptional cases.


The following represents a typical course load and the order in which courses would be taken for a student in the Ph.D. program. Course descriptions can be found by clicking on the course or see here.

Fall Y1 Course Credits
BST 625 Survey of Statistical Computing (elective) 3
MTH 624 Introduction to Probability Theory 3
MTH 642 Statistical Analysis 3
EPH 600 Introduction to Public Health 3
Total 9-12
Spring Y1 Course Credits
MTH 625 Introduction to Mathematical Statistics 3
EPH 621 Fundamentals of Epidemiology 3
BST 675 Generalized Linear Models 3
Total 9
Fall Y2 Course Credits
BST 640 Modern Numerical Multivariate Methods 3
BST 650 Topics in Biostatistics Research 1
BST 665 Advanced Clinical Trials 3
Elective 3
Total 10
Spring Y2 Course Credits
BST 630 Longitudinal Data 3
BST 650 Topics in Biostatistics Research 1
BST 680 Advanced Statistical Theory 3
Elective 3
Total 10
Summer Y2 Course Credits
BST 610 Introduction to Statistical Collaboration 3
Total 3
Fall Y3 Course Credits
BST 650 Topics in Biostatistics Research 1
BST 670 Bayes Data Analysis: Theory and Computing (elective) 3
BST 690 Theory of Survival Analysis 3
Elective 3
Total 10
Spring Y3 Course Credits
BST 650 Topics in Biostatistics Research 1
BST 691 High Dimensional and Complex Data 3
Elective 3
Total 7
Y3, Y4 and beyond Course Credits
BST 649 Advanced Individual Study 1-3
BST 830 Pre-candidacy dissertation credit 1-3
BST 840 Post-candidacy dissertation credit 1-3 where total of BST 830/840 must be exactly 12 at the end of the program
BST 850 Research in residence (last semester) 0


A written diagnostic exam is given at the end of the first year to test that the student has mastered the fundamental material made up of the first year course material from probability, mathematical statistics, linear and generalized linear models. Students must pass the diagnostic exam in order to continue in the PhD program. It is mandatory that students pass.

A second oral exam called the qualifying exam will be administered typically at the end of the third year. The qualifying exam is the students oral presentation of their dissertation prospectus (also called the proposal or dissertation proposal). The dissertation prospectus is a detailed description of what will ultimately become the students final PhD dissertation. The prospectus must be formatted using the same University typesetting guidelines as for the dissertation. The student presents the prospectus to the committee and if they satisfactorily pass the exam, the committee recommends the student for PhD candidacy. The qualifying/oral exam is closed to the public.