MS Capstone to PhD Admissions

If you are enrolled in the Master of Science Capstone (MS Capstone) program, and are interested in the PhD degree program, if eligible, you have the opportunity to apply internally to the program in the summer after your first year.


The MS-to-PhD admissions process is as rigorous as the regular admissions process, and there is no guarantee that you will be admitted to the PhD program in any particular year. This internal application is only available once, in the summer of the first year.  If you are an MS Capstone student and are interested in applying to the PhD degree program, review the PhD admission requirements and application process below.

If Admitted

If you are admitted, you would switch to the PhD track and commence PhD coursework.  The standard coursework after switching tracks will include the first year theory sequence ordinarily taken by PhD students (STAT 512-13). 

Since there is overlap with the first year theory sequence taken by MS Capstone students (BIOST 522-23), highly qualified students may consider taking the placement exam in the fall quarter to progress directly to the second year theory sequence (STAT 581-82-83).  Students who are not accepted are required to proceed with completing the remaining MS Capstone degree requirements.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. Strong course grades in BIOST 522 & 523 and BIOST 514 & 515.
  2. Evidence of independent research
  3. Biostatistics faculty invitation for the application to the PhD program following first year progress review
Note: Eligibility to apply does not guarantee admission.

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.
  • 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:
    • Two letters 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.

To Apply

  1. The student submits a revised Statement of Purpose and arranges for Letters of Recommendation to be submitted from two Biostatistics faculty members.
  2. This material is sent to The MS-to-PhD application deadline is provided to eligible students in their progress review letter.

Review Process and Decisions

  1. The Admissions Committee reviews the application materials listed above along with the student's UW transcript.
  2. Admissions decisions are communicated by the end of July.