Frequently Asked Questions

Application Questions



GRE and TOEFL test scores, recommendation letters, and GPA

Other materials

Contacting the department

General Program Questions



Application Questions

How can I be a competitive applicant? What are my chances of being admitted?

Please see our minimum requirements and criteria to be considered a competitive applicant. Generally, our competitive applicants are very strong in all components of their application, including grades, test scores, statement of purpose, and recommendation letters. Most competitive applicants have additional advanced math courses beyond the listed prerequisites. Note, however, every year we decline admission to many highly qualified applicants due to the competitiveness of the applicant pool and number of available spots. We are unable to respond to requests to estimate an applicant's chance of being admitted to our program. 

What is your applicant acceptance rate?

We receive approximately 350 applications each year; about 60% for the PhD program and the remainder for the masters programs. Acceptance numbers for each degree program vary each year depending on the applicant pool and availability of space and resources, but has been about 25% of all applications. 

Can I apply to more than one program? Are PhD applicants considered for the MS?

Please see the General Requirements section of our Application Instructions page.

I'm not sure if I have enough courses or credits to meet the prerequisites.

See our section on multivariate calculus/accelerated/AP courses and missing prerequisites on our Admissions Requirements page.

Where can I take courses to fulfill the prerequisites? When should I take them?

See our missing prerequisites section on our Admissions Requirements page. Due to the large number of local and online institutions that offer math courses, we do not maintain a list of recommended institutions or courses besides the mentioned probability course. To be a competitive applicant, the majority should be completed prior to applying, and any missing prerequisite should be in the process of being completed while you are applying. These cannot be completed after starting the program.

Can the GRE or TOEFL be waived due to prior degrees or work experience? If I will be graduating with a U.S. degree, do I need to take the TOEFL?

GRE scores are strictly optional but can be included if applicants feel it will help us understand their application.  If GRE scores are included, applicants should include a short explanation of why they have been included.

We also require TOEFL scores for all international applicants, including those with doctorates, except for international applicants with U.S./English-based degrees or those who will graduate with such a degree prior to entering the program - see the Admissions Requirements page for details. Applicants who do not need to submit TOEFL scores should leave the "Report English Proficiency Scores" section of the application blank and disregard any "incomplete" status messages for this section.

Can my official test scores or recommendation letters arrive after the deadline?

No. These must be received by the deadline in order for the application to be considered. We begin our review immediately after the deadline. Be sure to review our application instructions and required steps to follow after you apply.

Can I update my test scores after the deadline?

We begin our review immediately after the deadline. You are welcome to have ETS send your official test scores to UW, but you cannot update your self-report scores, and there is no guarantee that the new scores will be reviewed.

Can my recommendation letter be sent using interfolio or other recommendation letter service?

No, they must complete an evaluation and submit their letter through our online application system. Please review our application instructions and required steps to follow after you apply.

Is my application complete? What should I do if my application status page indicates that my test scores aren't received?

Please review our application instructions and required steps to follow after you apply.

International applicants who are exempt from submitting TOEFL scores should leave the "Report English Proficiency Scores" section of the application blank and disregard any "incomplete" status messages for this section.

I'm an international student and my GPA is not on a 4.0 scale. What should I enter for the GPA?

Please see our application instructions

May I update my statement of purpose, personal statement, or CV after I submit them?

No, these submitted materials cannot be updated. Please be sure to review our application instructions.

May I send you an updated transcript once I receive my autumn grades?

No, we do not accept updated transcripts after the application deadline. If we need to see grades for any courses you are taking in the autumn, we will follow up with you. If you are in the process of completing a prerequisite, make sure that the transcript you upload indicates this (or mention it in your statement of purpose). Please be sure to review our application instructions.

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Contacting the Department

May I visit the department and meet with an advisor or faculty member? May I speak with current students?

Due to our small staff and time constraints, we regret that we are unable to accommodate individual visits to provide general advising or tours for prospective applicants prior to admission. Select PhD candidates will be invited to participate in a two-day visit in late February or early March, and admitted MS applicants may also arrange an independent visit in the spring. To learn more about our program, faculty, and students in the meantime, see explore our website: Faculty Interests, Profiles, and Student Experience are pages that provide helpful insight into the program overall.

Should I select a supervisor before applying? Should I contact faculty about this?

No. Applicants are not expected to have a supervisor selected before applying. All students are assigned academic advisors when they start the program, and PhD students with research assistantships will be assigned an RA supervisor. MS Thesis and PhD students will have the opportunity to work with various faculty through independent studies and select their thesis or dissertation advisor. Applicants should not contact faculty to inquire whether they can be accepted as their mentee. Applicants are selected for admission by our admissions committee only.

How may I contact you with questions?

If you have general questions about the graduate program or the admissions process that are not answered on our website, the best method to contact us is by email. If you have program-specific questions regarding our master's programs, please indicate which program you are interested in (MS Thesis, MS Capstone).

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General Program Questions

Do you accept graduate-level transfer credits from other U.S. institutions?

No. However, we do offer a placement exam for newly-admitted students who believe they can pass the first-year theory coursework (Statistical Inference, taught at the UW as STAT 512 and 513), and a few other required courses may be waived at the discretion of the Graduate Program.

May I enroll part time?

Due to the rigor of our program, part-time study is discouraged. The PhD program requires full-time enrollment. For master’s programs, some exceptions have been made for students involved in other complementary training. If admitted, plans must be discussed with the Graduate Program Director for approval. Part-time study may extend the program completion time by two to three times due to the timing of our courses which are only offered once a year. UW employees interested in utilizing tuition exemption should note that the exemption does not cover thesis or other independent study credits for the MS Thesis program, nor any part of the MS Capstone program.

Can any portion of the program be completed online?

Our degree programs are fully residential. Individuals interested in distance learning may consider the Certificate in Applied Biostatistics offered by UW Professional and Continuing Education (PCE). Please contact PCE for questions regarding this certificate.

Is there a fast-track from the MS to PhD if a student shows promise?

MS students may have the opportunity to transfer to the PhD program. Additional information is available at MS Thesis to PhD Admissions | Biostatistics ( for transfer applications from the MS Thesis program and at MS Capstone to PhD Admissions | Biostatistics ( for transfer applications from the MS Capstone program.

Can students tailor their program to their needs or take additional courses beyond the requirements?

MS Thesis and PhD students will have the opportunity to take electives to support their specific research interests. MS Capstone students will take courses based on their selected pathway. Although it is generally not recommended, MS Capstone students may enroll in additional courses if their schedule allows, but there will be additional expenses associated with taking more than the required 10 credits per quarter.

What do students do in the summer?

PhD students typically work on research through a research assistantship and/or independent study. MS Thesis and Capstone students may also pursue an independent study. (An independent study is arranged by the student with the agreement of an available faculty member.) A number of PhD and MS students find paid internships, seeking help from the UW Career & Internship Center.

What is the employment rate? Where do alumni go after graduation?

The MS Capstone program is a new program that begins in Autumn 2019. Graduates from our department with MS and PhD degrees generally find themselves in demand and are very successful at securing full-time employment. The UW Career & Internship Center holds multiple careers fairs for graduate students and provide a range of job search services. Our more than 500 alumni have gone on to become leaders in academia, private industry, research, non-profit, and government. They are a dynamic and active community that stays closely connected to the department. For more information, see our Student Experience page.

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