Degree Requirements

Required Courses: MS Degree

BIOST 514 Biostatistics I
BIOST 515 Biostatistics II
BIOST 536 Categorical Data Analysis in Epidemiology
BIOST 537 Survival Data Analysis in Epidemiology
BIOST 580 Seminar in Biostatistics
BIOST 590 Biostatistical Consulting
BIOST 700 Master's Thesis
STAT 512 Statistical Inference
STAT 513 Statistical Inference
  • 6 quarters of BIOST 580 (seminar) are required
  • 18 credits of BIOST 700 (Master’s Thesis) are required.
  • Elective credits: 6 elective credits from Elective List One and 6 elective credits from Elective List Two.
  • Minimum 3.0 grade in each required course and 2.7 minimum in each elective course. Elective courses may be taken S/NS. This is because, to earn the grade of "S," students must achieve a 2.7 or higher.
  • First Year (MS) Statistical Theory Examination (taken after completing STAT 512 and 513). MS Students must pass this exam. NOTE: If a student enrolls in STAT 512 and STAT 513, he or she must take and pass the First (MS) theory examination the following summer. If this examination is failed, it must be passed the following year.
    Additional Course Recommendations
    • In preparation for work on their Thesis, students are expected to master research, presentation, and computational skills at the level covered in BIOST 561, BIOST 562, and BIOST 563. Taking these courses in the first year of MS studies is recommended.
    MS Students Interested in Applying to the PhD Pathway

    Admittance to the PhD pathway is based whether the student is considered to be prepared to do PhD-level work.

    Ways that a MS student can demonstrate being prepared to do PhD-level work include:

    • Mastery of first year knowledge and skills as evidenced by engagement in class, class exam scores, and overall course grade.
    • Research experience such as through doing an Independent Study with a faculty member and completing a research project.
    • Engagement with the field including attending Department Seminar and Student Seminar, talking with/learning from faculty and fellow students, and communicating with course instructors about the class material and/or other aspects of the field.


    1. Pass the First Year (MS) Theory Exam at the PhD level
    2. Earn a grade that is no lower than 3.0 in STAT 512/513 and BIOST 514/515

    To apply:

    • The student must submit a revised Statement of Purpose and a Letter of Recommendation from a Biostatistics faculty member. The material is submitted shortly after the First Year (MS) Theory Exam.
    • The Admissions Committee will review the application to change degree pathways and respond by the end of July before the beginning of the student’s second year.
    • Note: There is no limit on how many MS students may be admitted to the PhD pathway. On average, approximately two students move from MS to PhD.
    Department Expectations

    Expectations for All Students
    All students in the Department of Biostatistics are expected to participate in the annual Department Retreat, usually held in mid-September.


    Student Progress Expectations for MS Students
    Year 1:

    • Get a Minimum grade of 3.0 in BIOST 514/515 and in STAT 512/513
    • Take at least one List 1 or List 2 Elective Spring Quarter with a Minimum grade of 2.7
    • Take and Pass First Year (MS) Theory Exam
    • Take BIOST 563 Summer Quarter

    Year 2:

    • Identify Thesis Advisor and Thesis Topic no later than Autumn Quarter
    • Start Thesis Credits (BIOST 700) no later than Winter Quarter
    • Get a Minimum grade of 3.0 in BIOST 536/537
    • Complete List1 and List 2 Electives with Minimum grades of 2.7
    • Take and Pass Consulting class
    • Identify Thesis Readers, Complete Thesis and Graduate no later than Summer Quarter


    Department Policy on Waiving Course Requirements
    In order to facilitate more rapid progress through the programs of study administered by the Department of Biostatistics, the departmental faculty will consider petitions for waiving required coursework as described by the policy guidelines given below.

    General Policy

    The overarching principles of this policy are:

    Only in the most extraordinary circumstances can the above general policy be waived for an individual student, and then only if agreed by the faculty as a whole.

    • That the students, through prior comparable coursework at other institutions, have acquired mastery of the overwhelming majority of material taught in the course to be waived,
    • That the students will pursue more advanced coursework in the general area of the course being waived,
    • That by waiving the coursework, the students will be able to make more rapid progress toward completion of the degree, and
    • That any decision to grant the petition for a waiver will be formally documented by the students’ academic advisors, a committee administering a placement exam and/or the current instructors for the course, and the graduate program office for the department. Such documentation must be completed prior to the quarter that the student would normally take the waived course.
    • In general, no students will be allowed a waiver of the requirements for biostatistical consulting (BIOST 590).
    • In general, no students will be allowed a waiver of the requirements for 6 credits in departmental seminars.
    • In general, no students will be allowed a waiver of the requirement for electives with a methodologic emphasis (Elective List One).
    • In general, no students will be allowed a waiver of the requirement for electives with a biology or public health emphasis (Elective List Two).