Students enrolled in the Master of Science Capstone (MS Capstone) can apply to the PhD program through the regular admissions process (External Applications). In some years, select Capstone students are invited to apply to the PhD program via an Internal Application process.
Internal application is only available by invitation of the faculty. At the beginning of spring quarter, faculty members will vote on whether to invite exceptional first-year MS Capstone students to apply to the PhD program via an internal MS-to-PhD application process.
The internal MS-to-PhD application process consists of two components:
- Take the First Year (MS) Statistical Theory Exam (usually held the first Tuesday after spring quarter ends).
- Submit PhD application materials. The deadline for these materials will be communicated to invited students at the beginning of spring quarter.
The faculty members of the Admissions Committee will evaluate the applicant and decide whether to admit the MS Capstone student to the PhD program, based on the two components of the application process.
If admitted to the PhD program, then the MS Capstone student will have the option to switch to the PhD program and commence PhD coursework. Typically, STAT 512/513 will be waived. In some cases, BIOST 533 may also be waived. As BIOST 514/515 are taken during the first year of the MS Capstone, these courses will not be required for the PhD program.
If not admitted to the PhD program, then the MS Capstone student will continue in the MS Capstone program and complete the remaining MS Capstone degree requirements.
Please note that this MS Capstone-to-PhD admissions process is as rigorous as the regular admissions process. Only on exceptional occasions are MS Capstone students admitted to the PhD program.
Admission Review Factors
The MS-to-PhD admissions process is as rigorous as the regular admissions process. The applicant must demonstrate overall excellence, the proven ability to do PhD-level work, and engagement with the field. The Admissions Committee will consider the following as they holistically review each application:
- Mastery of knowledge and skills demonstrated by:
- Engagement in class, class exam scores, and overall course grades.
- Performance on the First Year (MS) Theory Exam
- Strong research skills as well as potential for PhD-level work (e.g., Independent Study with a faculty member resulting in a research project, research resulting in a publication, etc.) as evidenced by:
- One letter of recommendation from Biostatistics faculty.
- Publication(s), grants received, etc.
- Engagement with the field and department as well as a spirit of curiosity and independent inquiry as demonstrated by:
- Regularly attending Department Seminars and interacting with the guest speaker and faculty.
- Meaningfully contributing to Student Seminar by attending, presenting research, asking questions, and sharing feedback with the student presenters.
- Communicating with/asking questions of course instructors regarding class material and other aspects of the field.
- Seeking out opportunities to talk with/learn from faculty, guest speakers, and more senior students in the department.
- The applicant submits a revised Statement of Purpose and transcripts from previous institutions and arranges for one Letter of Recommendation to be submitted from a Biostatistics faculty member. This material is sent to email@example.com. The MS-to-PhD application deadline is provided to eligible students at the beginning of spring quarter.
- The student takes the First-Year Theory Exam. The results will be directly shared with the faculty members of the Admissions Committee by the Exam Committee.
Review Process and Decisions
- The faculty members of the Admissions Committee review the application materials listed above, along with the student's UW transcript.
- Admissions decisions are communicated in July.
External Applications (via grad.uw.edu)
Internal versus External Applications
The faculty consider all MS Students for potential transfer to the PhD program, as a matter of routine, during the spring of the first year. In any given year there are a limited number of PhD slots available for internal applicants, and in some years none are available. Thus, very few (if any) MS students are invited to participate in the internal application process in a given year.
If you are invited to apply to the PhD program through the internal process as a first year MS student, and your application is successful, then no application fee is required.
If you do not receive an invitation to apply to the PhD program through the internal process, then you may still apply to the PhD program through the standard (external) process. However, the admissions committee is likely to come to the same conclusion as was reached in the spring, i.e., your application is unlikely to be successful.
Thus, if you are an MS student interested in pursuing a PhD and were not invited to apply to the PhD through the internal process, then we urge you to consider applying to other graduate programs.