PhD Degree Requirements


The Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics requires completion of the following:

Course credits

  • Core curriculum courses: 37 credits for Standard pathway; 48 credits for Statistical Genetics pathway
  • Elective courses: 15 credits for Standard pathway; 7 credits for Statistical Genetics pathway
  • 9 research seminar credits
  • 3 credits for consulting
  • 36 credits for dissertation
  • Minimum 3.0 grade in each core course and 2.7 minimum in each elective course
  • Full-time enrollment of 10 credits per quarter is required (2 credits in the summer).


  • First Year Theory Exam: For advisory purposes, students must take the First Year Statistical Theory Examination after the end of spring quarter following completion of STAT 512 and STAT 513 (usually in Year 1). (A new student placement exam may be taken to waive these courses and the First Year Theory Exam.)
  • PhD Theory Exam: Students must pass the PhD Statistical Theory Examination within two years following first time completion of STAT 581STAT 582STAT 583 (usually the summer of Year 2). This comprehensive exam covers theory material learned in both the first and second years of the program.
  • PhD Applied Exam: Students must pass the PhD Applied Examination within two years following first time completion of BIOST 570 (usually the summer of Year 2). This exam covers Applied and Data Analysis coursework. In addition to courses, RA work and internships can provide opportunities to help prepare for the exam.

Learn more about exams in our Students section.


The purpose of writing a PhD dissertation is to make a substantive contribution to knowledge in biostatistics and to provide the student with training in undertaking biostatistical research. Under the guidance of a supervisory committee and the mentorship of the committee chair (the dissertation advisor), PhD students must perform biostatistics research and write a dissertation. The preliminary work for the dissertation is assessed in the General Examination, and the completed dissertation is assessed in the Final Examination. Students typically begin work on their dissertation after completing the PhD qualifying exams, although students should explore potential research topics early their graduate program.

  • General Exam: The General Examination enables the Supervisory Committee to assess whether the student’s background of study and preparation are sufficient to merit commencement of a dissertation. In the General Exam, the student presents preliminary work for the dissertation, outlines a proposal for the dissertation research, and answers questions from the Supervisory Committee. Passing the General Exam means the student is formally a PhD candidate. After achieving candidate status, the student ordinarily devotes their time primarily to writing the dissertation and preparing for the Final Examination.
  • Final Exam: The Final Examination enables the Supervisory Committee to assess whether the student has produced a dissertation that is a significant contribution to biostatistical knowledge and that the student has PhD-level training in biostatistical research. After a successful Final Exam, the student must submit a final dissertation. This final version of the dissertation should address any issues raised in the Final Exam, to the satisfaction of the Supervisory Committee.

Other requirements

  • PhD students must serve as a Teaching Assistant for at least one quarter.
  • All Biostatistics students are expected to present a poster at and participate in the annual department retreat usually held in the fall.