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Biostatistics

Department Overview

Founded in 1970, the Department of Biostatistics is a leader in the statistical sciences. Its 78 faculty include a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, two members of the Institute of Medicine, and 20 Fellows of the American Statistical Association. Four hundred eighty-eight alumni hold leadership roles in academia, government, and industry worldwide. The department is a center for development and application of statistical methodology across the health sciences, and has collaborative partnerships with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Group Health Cooperative, and the Veterans’ Administration. To complement research, the department recently established the Center for Biomedical Statistics to provide consulting and collaborative services.

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
H655 Health Sciences, Box 357232
(206) 543-1044
bioadmit@uw.edu

The Department of Biostatistics offers Master of Science, Master of Public Health, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in quantitative methods applied to the medical and biological sciences. Biology, medicine, and health sciences are undergoing major changes in their development as quantitative sciences. As technological advances generate huge quantities of information, biostatistical tools and concepts are critical for the analysis of these data. The techniques and viewpoints of mathematics and statistics, traditionally peripheral to biology and medicine, are now woven into the fabric of the life sciences, thereby providing new opportunities in research and teaching.

Many universities have instituted programs relating mathematics or statistics to one particular biological field. The goal of the biostatistics graduate program is to equip students to develop and apply the quantitative techniques of mathematics, statistics, and computing appropriate to medicine, biology, and other health science disciplines.

Because of faculty involvement in diverse statistical applications, the department produces graduates at all levels. Students are recruited from programs in mathematics, statistics, and biology and are selected on the basis of quantitative ability.

Master of Public Health

This track combines broad training in public health with specific training in biostatistics. The track includes core courses in biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health services, and social and behavioral sciences. In addition, successful candidates are required to complete a public health practicum and write a research-based master's thesis. The degree is designed for individuals who anticipate careers as data analysts in public health research or practice and for individuals who plan doctoral work in public health or biomedical field, but who want more methodological training than those PhD programs offer.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to Biostatistics graduate programs are formally applying to the Graduate School of the University of Washington. Although all acceptance decisions are made within the Biostatistics Department, the Graduate School imposes certain minimum admission requirements. Applicants must therefore submit both a general application directly to the Graduate School and a specific application to the Biostatistics Department.

To be considered for admission to the Biostatistics MPH pathway, a candidate must hold a doctoral-level degree in another field (e.g., MD, PhD, JD) or be currently working on such a doctoral degree. Candidates who have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree are not awarded the Biostatistics-pathway MPH until they are awarded their doctoral degree. All other prerequisites and required materials are the same for MS, MPH, and PhD applicants.

Degree Requirements

63 credits, as follows:

  1. Biostatistics Core Courses: BIOST 514, BIOST 515; BIOST 524; BIOST 536, BIOST 537; BIOST 580; BIOST 590. BIOST 514, BIOST 515, BIOST 524, BIOST 536, and BIOST 537 must be taken for a numerical grade, with a minimum grade of 3.0 in each course.
  2. Non-biostatistics Core Courses: EPI 512, EPI 513; HSERV 510, HSERV 511; ENV H 511; G H 515. All non-biostatistics core courses must be taken for a numerical grade, with a minimum grade of 2.7 in each non-biostatistics core course and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00.
  3. Biostatistics Elective Courses: 6 credits of any approved biostatistics MS elective, or STAT 512 or STAT 513
  4. Biostatistics MPH Practicum: BIOST 595 (3). MPH students must also complete a practicum experience for 3 credits in an organization or agency that provides planning or services relevant to public health.
  5. Master's Thesis: 9 credits of BIOST 700.

See department website for further information on degree requirements.

Master of Science

The Master of Science program offers advanced training in biostatistics. The program includes coursework in biostatistics, statistics, and one or more biomedical fields. In addition, successful candidates are required to pass a master's theory examination and write a research-based master's thesis. The degree is designed for individuals who anticipate a career as a data analyst in public health or biomedical research or practice and for individuals who plan doctoral work in a public health or biomedical field, but want more methodological training than those PhD programs offer.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to Biostatistics graduate programs are formally applying to the Graduate School of the University of Washington. Although all acceptance decisions are made within the Biostatistics Department, the Graduate School imposes certain minimum admission requirements. Applicants must therefore submit both a general application directly to the Graduate School and a specific application to the Biostatistics Department.

Potential MS students may enter the graduate program in biostatistics from an undergraduate major in mathematics, statistics, or a biological field. Students are occasionally admitted with backgrounds in other fields; however, all applicants must have 30 or more quarter credits in mathematics and statistics to include two years of calculus (to include multivariate calculus), one course in linear algebra, and one course in probability theory.

Degree Requirements

63 credits minimum, as follows:

  1. Required Courses: BIOST 514, BIOST 515, BIOST 536, BIOST 537, BIOST 580, BIOST 590, STAT 512, STAT 513. Students must earn a minimum 3.0 grade in each of the required courses (except BIOST 580 and BIOST 590). At faculty discretion, required courses may be waived based on prior coursework, and faculty may also waive the requirement for obtaining a grade of 3.0 in selected courses when subsequent performance on a relevant qualifying examination is excellent.
  2. Elective Credits: 12 elective credits, with at least 6 credits of elective courses with a methodology emphasis, and 6 credits of electives with a biology or public health emphasis (See department for elective-credit lists.)
  3. Examinations: Students who enroll in STAT 512 and STAT 513 must take and pass the MS theory examination the following summer. If this examination is failed, it must be passed the following year.
  4. Master's Thesis: 18 credits of BIOST 700. The master's thesis can be waived for students who have taken and passed all the PhD qualifying examinations at a level appropriate for PhD students. In place of the 18 credits of BIOST 700 and the 8 credits of BIOST 536 and BIOST 537, the student must take and pass all required coursework for the PhD degree, including BIOST 533, BIOST 570, STAT 581, STAT 582, STAT 583 and, depending on the pathway, BIOST 571 and BIOST 572, or BIOST 550, BIOST 551, and BIOST 552.

See department website for further information on degree requirements.

Doctor of Philosophy

The doctoral program in biostatistics trains future leaders, highly qualified as independent investigators and teachers, who are well-trained practitioners of biostatistics. The program includes coursework in biostatistics, statistics, and one or more public health or biomedical fields. In addition, successful candidates are required to pass PhD applied and theory examinations, complete a biology project, and write a dissertation that reports the results of new biostatistical research undertaken by the candidate.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to Biostatistics graduate programs are formally applying to the Graduate School of the University of Washington. Although all acceptance decisions are made within the Biostatistics Department, the Graduate School imposes certain minimum admission requirements. Applicants must therefore submit both a general application directly to the Graduate School and a specific application to the Biostatistics Department.

Potential PhD students may enter the graduate program in biostatistics from programs in mathematics, statistics, or a biological field. Students are occasionally admitted with backgrounds in other fields; however, all applicants must have 30 or more quarter credits in mathematics and statistics to include two years of calculus (including multivariate calculus), one course in linear algebra, and one course in probability theory. The two pathways to the PhD (standard or statistical genetics) are shown below.

Degree Requirements

Minimum 103 credits, as follows:

Standard Pathway

  1. Required Courses: BIOST 514; BIOST 515; BIOST 533; BIOST 570; BIOST 571; BIOST 572; BIOST 580, BIOST 590, BIOST 800; MATH 576, or equivalent; STAT 512, STAT 513; STAT 581, STAT 582, STAT 583
  2. Students must earn a minimum 3.0 grade in each of the required courses (except BIOST 580, BIOST 590, or BIOST 800). A placement examination may be taken to waive STAT 512 and STAT 513. At faculty discretion, required courses may be waived based on prior coursework, and faculty may also waive the requirement for obtaining a grade of 3.0 in selected courses when subsequent performance on a relevant qualifying examination is excellent.
  3. Elective Credits: 15 elective credits, consisting of at least 6 credits of electives with a methodology emphasis and 9 credits of electives with a biology or public health emphasis.(See department for elective-credit lists.) The minimum grade requirement for elective courses is 2.7.
  4. Examinations: If a PhD student enrolls in STAT 512 and STAT 513, he or she must take the MS theory examination the following summer for advisory purposes. PhD students must also take and pass the PhD statistical theory examination within two years following first-time completion of STAT 581, STAT 582, STAT 583; take and pass the PhD applied examination within two years following first-time completion of BIOST 570; and pass the general and final examinations.
  5. Teaching Assistant: PhD students must serve as a TA for at least one quarter.

Statistical Genetics Pathway

  1. Prerequisites: Familiarization with the statistical genetics program; GENOME 371 (or equivalent course from another institution); GENOME 372, GENOME 453, or GENOME 465 (or equivalent class from another institution)
  2. Required Courses: BIOST 514, BIOST 515, BIOST 533, BIOST 550, BIOST 551, BIOST 552, BIOST 570, BIOST 581, BIOST 590, BIOST 800; STAT 512, STAT 513, STAT 581, STAT 582, STAT 583; MATH 576 (or equivalent); GENOME 540 or GENOME 541; GENOME 562
  3. Students must earn a minimum 3.0 grade in each of the required courses (except BIOST 581, BIOST 590, or BIOST 800). A placement examination may be taken to waive STAT 512 and STAT 513. At faculty discretion, required courses may be waived based on prior coursework, and faculty may also waive the requirement for obtaining a grade of 3.0 in selected courses when subsequent performance on a relevant qualifying examination is excellent.
  4. Elective Credits: At least 4 credits of elective courses with a methodology emphasis. (See department for elective-course list.) Minimum 2.7 grade required.
  5. Examinations: If a PhD student enrolls in STAT 512 and STAT 513, he or she must take the MS theory examination the following summer for advisory purposes. PhD students must also take and pass the PhD statistical theory examination within two years following first-time completion of STAT 581, STAT 582, STAT 583; take and pass the PhD applied examination within two years following first-time completion of BIOST 570; and pass the general and final examinations.
  6. Teaching Assistant: PhD students must serve as a TA for at least one quarter.

See the department website for further information on degree requirements.