Doctor of Philosophy in the Field of Biostatistics

Program Director and Academic Advisor H. Liang (CCAS)

The PhD degree program in biostatistics provides doctoral training in the theory of probability, statistics focusing on biostatistical methodology. The 72-credit degree program is jointly administered by the Department of Statistics in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the Milken Institute School of Public Health (SPH) and its associated research facility, The Biostatistics Center. The program is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education through CCAS and by the Council on Education for Public Health through the Milken Institute SPH. Regulations and requirements for the graduate degree are compatible with policies and scholarship requirements of both CCAS and SPH. The degree is conferred by CCAS. 

Specific admission requirements are shown on the Graduate Program Finder.

Visit the program website for additional program information.

Specific admission requirements are shown on the Graduate Program Finder.

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Program.

Undergraduate course requirements (or equivalents to these GW courses) for admission consideration:
MATH 1231Single-Variable Calculus I
MATH 1232Single-Variable Calculus II
STAT 2118Regression Analysis
MATH 2233Multivariable Calculus
Additional course requirements* (or equivalents to these GW courses):
MATH 2184Linear Algebra I
One of the following:
STAT 1129Introduction to Computing
STAT 2183Intermediate Statistics Lab/Packages
PUBH 6249Use of Statistical Packages: Data Management and Data Analysis
  • Applicants lacking these courses (or equivalents to these GW courses) will be considered for admission, but, if admissible, will be admitted conditionally with the expectation that these courses will be satisfactorily completed within two semesters following matriculation in the program. These credits do not count as credit toward the 72-credit graduation requirement nor are grades earned in additional courses reflected in the overall grade-point average.

Ph.D. in the field of biostatistics degree requirements: 72 credits of coursework and research, with a minimum of 51 credits of courses and a minimum of 12 credits of dissertation research. 

Required statistics and public health core courses:
Required statistics core courses: 27 credits
STAT 6201Mathematical Statistics I
STAT 6202Mathematical Statistics II (* Comprehensive Exam)
STAT 6210Data Analysis
STAT 6213Intermediate Probability and Stochastic Processes (* Comprehensive Exam)
PUBH 8365Design of Medical Studies
PUBH 8366Biostatistical Methods (* Comprehensive Exam)
STAT 8226Advanced Biostatistical Methods
STAT 6227Survival Analysis
STAT 8263Advanced Statistical Theory I
Required public health core courses: 12 credits
PUBH 6001Biological Concepts in Public Health
PUBH 6003Principles and Practices of Epidemiology
PUBH 6121Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology
One of the following:
PUBH 6299Topics in Epidemiology and Biostatistics
PUBH 6007Social and Behavioral Approaches to Public Health
or PUBH 6006 Management and Policy Approaches to Public Health
PUBH 6006Management and Policy Approaches to Public Health
9 credits from the following approved elective courses:
Approved statistics elective courses (at least 3 credits must be taken from among the first 3 courses noted below):
STAT 6214Applied Linear Models
STAT 6231Contingency Table Analysis
STAT 8262Nonparametric Inference
STAT 6207Methods of Statistical Computing I
STAT 6208Methods of Statistical Computing II
STAT 6215Applied Multivariate Analysis I
STAT 6216Applied Multivariate Analysis II
STAT 6217Design of Experiments
STAT 6218Linear Models
STAT 6223Bayesian Statistics: Theory and Applications
STAT 6242Modern Regression Analysis
STAT 6287Sample Surveys
STAT 6289Topics in Statistics
STAT 8257Probability
STAT 8258Distribution Theory
STAT 8263Advanced Statistical Theory I
STAT 8264Advanced Statistical Theory II
STAT 8265Multivariate Analysis
STAT 8273Stochastic Processes I
STAT 8274Stochastic Processes II
STAT 8281Advanced Time Series Analysis
STAT 8288Topics in Sample Surveys
BIOS 8998Advanced Reading and Research (see advisor)
Approved public health elective courses:
PUBH 6242Clinical Epidemiology and Public Health: Reading the Research (recommended)
PUBH 6245Infectious Disease Epidemiology
PUBH 8419Measurement in Public Health and Health Services
Note: May be waived by the Biostatistics Program Director, based on written documentation of prior equivalent coursework or relevant work experience. Waiver of the consulting course increases the total number of electives by the number of consulting credits waived.
PUBH 6258Advanced Topics in Biostatistical Consulting
PUBH 6283Biostatistics Consulting Practicum
Dissertation research:
12-24 credits of the following:
BIOS 8999Dissertation Research

General and final examinations

The General Examination is given in two parts:

  • Part I is a written comprehensive examination based on the course content of STAT 6202 Mathematical Statistics II, STAT 6213 Intermediate Probability and Stochastic Processes (administered by faculty of the Department of Statistics), and PUBH 6266 Biostatistical Methods (administered by the faculty of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics). Students are expected to take the comprehensive examination within 24 months from the date of enrollment in the program. In addition, students are required to make up any deficiencies prior to taking the examination, e.g., by enrolling in appropriate master's-level courses as needed. A student who fails to pass the comprehensive examination may, with the approval of the faculty, repeat the examination the following year. Failure on the second attempt will result in termination from the Ph.D. program.
  • Part II, the research proposal, consists of an oral examination based on a written dissertation research proposal. As soon as feasible after successful completion of the comprehensive exam, students are encouraged to identify a dissertation advisor and a topic of research. The written dissertation proposal is then submitted to the student's Dissertation Research Committee, and the student will make an oral presentation of his or her proposal to the Committee. The Committee will determine the student's readiness to pursue and successfully complete the proposed research, in addition to the appropriateness of the specific problem for dissertation-level research.

Upon successful completion of the required coursework and both parts of the General Examination, the candidate will generally be recommended to the Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs of The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) for promotion to Ph.D. Candidacy: the dissertation research. A candidate must file an approved dissertation research plan with the CCAS before being admitted to Ph.D. Candidacy. Prior to completion of the General Examination, a student may register for at most 6 credits of BIOS 8999 Dissertation Research.

Consult with the biostatistics program director or academic advisor for the dissertation guidelines.

Professional enhancement requirement: 8 hours

Professional enhancement activities supplement the academic curriculum and help prepare students to participate actively in the professional community. They enhance practical knowledge and awareness of public health issues – either in general or in a student’s specific area of study.

Students can fulfill this requirement by attending workshops, seminars, or other relevant professional meetings, which are often held at SPH and in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. Examples of conference sponsors include the National Academy for State Health Policy, the Pan American Health Organization, the American Public Health Association, the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Area Health Education Center, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Athletic Trainer’s Association. Opportunities for professional enhancement are regularly publicized via the SPH Listserv and through the department or the biostatistics academic advisor.

Students must submit documentation of professional enhancement activities to the biostatistics academic advisor, which includes a prior approval, a description of the program agenda, and proof of attendance before applying for graduation.