MS Thesis to PhD Admissions

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


The MS-to-PhD admissions process is as rigorous as the regular admissions process; typically only one highly qualified MS Thesis student per year is admitted to the PhD program. This internal application is only available once - in the summer of the first or second year. If admitted, the MS student switches to the PhD track and commences second year PhD coursework. Students who are not accepted are required to proceed with completing the remaining MS degree requirements.

Current MS Thesis students interested in applying to the PhD degree program should review the PhD admission requirements and application process below.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. Strong pass of the First Year (MS) Statistical Theory Examination
  2. Strong course grades in STAT 512 & 513 and BIOST 514 & 515. In addition, for MS students in their second year, strong course grades in BIOST 536 & BIOST 537
  3. Evidence of independent research
  4. Biostatistics faculty invitation for the application to the PhD program following 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.
    • Performance on the First Year 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, RA work resulting in a project, research resulting in a publication, etc.) as evidenced by:
    • 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.

To Apply

  1. The student submits a revised Statement of Purpose and arranges for one Letter of Recommendation to be submitted from a Biostatistics faculty member.
  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.