Curriculum Overview: Campus MS Program

* All courses are 3 credit hours

Core Courses

The following five core courses are required for all M.S. students.

  • PHC 6050c: Biostatistical Methods I
  • PHC 6051: Biostatistical Methods II
  • PHC 6092: Introduction to Biostatistical Theory
  • STA 6177: Applied Survival Analysis
  • PHC 6001: Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health

The courses “Biostatistical Methods I and II” and “Survival Analysis” make up the methods core of the program. These are courses which cover the essentials of statistical methods for different types of data common in health studies.

The course “Introduction to Biostatistical Theory” forms the theoretical part of the core and will provide students with the mathematical foundation necessary to use and understand biostatistical methods.

The epidemiology course will provide students with an overview of epidemiology methods used in research studies that address disease patterns in community and clinic-based populations. It will include coverage of distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specific populations and application to control of health problems.

Public Health Core

In addition, each student must complete three credits from the Public Health Core course:

  • PHC 6937: Introduction to Public Health.

Consulting requirement

Students must acquire experience in the planning of experiments and establishing a collaborative interaction with an investigator. This requirement is fulfilled by registering for

  • PHC 6063: Biostatistical Consulting

Electives

Students are also required to complete at least five additional biostatistics/statistics courses determined in conjunction with their supervisory committee. Special topics elective courses will be taught under the course number PHC 6937.

Capstone Experience

During the final semester students will take an exam in which they need to demonstrate mastery of the program. Students must be in good academic standing.

Students will proceed with one of the following two options:

  • (1) Read and critique a paper from the statistical literature, for example, from the journal Statistics in Medicine, and present a summary and critique in a written report form, and in an oral report form of approximately 45 minutes to three committee members, including a committee chair.
  • (2) Complete a data analysis to answer a research question and write a report summarizing the goals of the project, the data source, the methods used, the results of the analysis, and the conclusion, and then present in an oral report of approximately 45 minutes to three committee members, including a committee chair.

The students’ academic advisor will serve as the committee chair. There is no length requirement for the written report.

If the first option is selected, the report should consist of a summary of the statistical paper, an application of the statistical methodology to actual or simulated data, and a critique of the strengths and weaknesses of the methodology and the paper.

During the oral report, students will be questioned by the three committee members during the presentation as well as afterwards.

Comparison to M.S. in Statistics

The curriculum shares some components with the M.S. in Statistics (in particular, the theoretical core because the theoretical underpinnings of statistics and biostatistics are similar and therefore did not require new course development.)

However, there is different emphasis in the methodology courses, with the core courses covering methodology for categorical data in Biostatistical Methods II and survival data and clinical trials.

In addition, there is a ‘subject matter’ component in the M.S. in Biostatistics, consisting of the Public Health core courses as well as a consulting requirement.

These are key components in training for Biostatistics, but are not requirements in the M.S. in Statistics.

Learning Outcomes

All graduates of the program will be expected to be able to:

  • Interpret and apply basic biostatistical methods using state-of-the art software in a way that meets the goals of a collaborating health scientist.
  • Support successful collaborations with investigators in new quantitative fields.
  • Interpret biostatistical analyses while remaining aware of limitations.
  • Compete for positions in three primary settings: academic (either in a PhD program or as an academic research assistant), industry, and federal agencies that involve research and/or public health practice.

Overview

A minimum of 36 post-baccalaureate credit hours is required. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates will be awarded an M.S. degree in biostatistics.

The credits are broken down as follows:

Component
# of credits
Core Biostatistics courses
15
Core Public Health courses 3
Consulting requirement
3
Biostatistics/statistics electives
15
Total
36