PhD Requirements

PhD in Biostatistics requires completion of the following:

Course Credits

  • Core curriculum courses: 43 credits for Standard pathway; 50 credits for Statistical Genetics pathway 
  • Elective courses: 14 credits for Standard pathway; 8 credits for Statistical Genetics pathway*
    • *15 credits are required for standard pathway cohorts of 2022 and earlier. 7 credits are required for Statistical Genetics pathway cohorts of 2022 and earlier.
  • 9 Seminar credits 

  • 3 credits for the Applied Research Project (PhD Applied Requirement)*

  • 3 credits for the course in Statistical Consulting 

  • 36 credits for dissertation 

  • Minimum 3.0 grade in each core course and minimum 2.7 grade in each elective course 

  • Full-time enrollment of 10 credits per quarter is required (2 credits in summer quarter). 

Exams and Projects

  • First Year Theory Exam: For advisory purposes, PhD 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 PhD student placement exam may be taken to waive these courses and the First Year Theory Exam.)
  • PhD Theory Exam: PhD 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 Research Project / Applied Requirement: This requirement replaces the PhD Applied Exam for cohorts entering 2022 and later.  The cohort entering 2021 can opt out of the Applied Exam and choose to complete the Applied Requirement instead.  To complete the Applied Requirement, students must complete an independent project demonstrating their knowledge of applied Biostatistics and their scientific collaborative skills.   The student prepares a report of the analysis and presents the project to a committee of faculty.  The committee reviews and approves proposed projects and final reports.  A student undertakes the project in a single quarter, typically during the third year after taking all required courses, including the course in statistical consulting.  The Applied Requirement must be completed before the General 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.