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Biostatistics - PhD


The PhD degree program in Biostatistics provides doctoral training in the theory of probability and statistics focusing on biostatistical methododogy. It is a 72-credit degree program jointly administered by the Department of Statistics in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) and the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics in the Milken Institute School of Public Health, and its associated research facility, The Biostatistics Center. The degree is conferred by the CCAS.

At the completion of the PhD degree program in Biostatistics students will be able to:

  • Conduct biostatistical methodology research.

  • Utilize extensive knowledge of the theory and principles of probability, statistical inference, and biostatistical methods.

  • Apply and develop appropriate biostatistical methods for design and analysis of biomedical studies.

  • Provide biostatistical advice as a member of a team engaged in a biomedical research project.

  • Serve as biostatistics experts on collaborative teams of investigators.


Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. Although not required, most admitted students have completed a master degree prior to admission. Furthermore, they should demonstrate academic excellence in their intended fields of study.

In general, a minimum of a B average (or equivalent) in undergraduate and/or graduate coursework from an accredited college is required. With evidence of special promise, such as high Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, an applicant whose academic record falls short of a B average may be accepted on a conditional basis. All students are required to submit current GRE scores (within 5 years of matriculation date).  

Meeting the minimum requirements does not assure acceptance. Admittance to the PhD Biostatistics is highly competetitive and there are a limited number of spaces available each Fall for new students. Applicants must provide evidence of the completion of their undergraduate and/or graduate work before registration in Milken Institute SPH is permitted.

Academic Prerequisites

Required Prerequisites* for applicants to the PhD Biostatistics are:

  • Single-Variable Calculus I - 3 credits
  • Single-Variable Calculus II - 3 credits
  • Multivariable Calculus - 3 credits
  • Regression Analysis - 3 credits
       * Transcripts are required for verification. Transcripts provided must reflect these courses (undergraduate or graduate level), without exception, to be considered for admission.
Additional Course Requirements* (or equivalents to these GW courses)
  • Linear Algebra I - 3 credits


One of the following:

  • StatPackages/DataMgt&DataAnalysis - 3 credits
  • Introduction to Computing - 3 credits
  • Statistical Computing Packages - 3 credits
     *Applicants may still be admitted if these courses have not been completed. However, these credits must be earned within the first two semesters after matriculation. Credits for these courses do not count toward the 72-credit graduation requirement, nor are grades earned in these additional courses reflected in the overall grade-point average.



While students in this joint, collaborative program are advised by faculty in the GW School of Public Health and the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS), the program is officially administered by the CCAS.  All admissions, administrative transactions, graduation clearance, and commencement actions are completed by CCAS and the Department of Statistics.  The PhD in Biostatistics degree is officially conferred by CCAS.


Required Statistics Core Courses

PUBH 8365 | Design of Medical Studies (3 credits)
PUBH 8366 | Biostatistical Methods (3 credits)
STAT 6201  | Mathematical Statistics I (3 credits)
STAT 6202  | Mathematical Statistics II (3 credits)
STAT 6210 | Data Analysis (3 credits)
STAT 6213 | Intermediate Probability and Stochastic Processes (3 credits)
STAT 6218 | Linear Models (3 credits)
STAT 6227 | Survival Analysis (3 credits)
STAT 8226 | Advanced Biostatistical Methods (3 credits)
STAT 8263 | Advanced Statistical Theory I (3 credits)


Required Public Health Core Courses

PUBH 6003 | Principles & Practice of Epidemiology (3 credits)
PUBH 6007 | Social and Behavioral Approaches to Public Health (2 credits)
PUBH 6247 | Design of Health Studies (3 credits)
PUBH 6299 | Topics in Epi and Biostatistics (may be repeated for credit) (2 credits) 




(9 credits minimum from Public Health and/or Statistics courses)  

Note: At least 3 credits must be from the approved list of statistics electives courses.

For the most up to date list of Electives, please reference the Program Guide.


Consulting / Dissertation Requirements

PUBH 6258 | Advanced Topics in Biostatistical Consulting (1 credit)
PUBH 6283 | Biostatistics Consulting Practicum (2 credits)

12-24 credits of the following:
BIOS 8999 | Dissertation Research 


Non-Academic Requirements

Professional Enhancement (8 hours)

Professional Enhancement activities supplement the rigorous academic curriculum of the SPH degree programs and help prepare students to participate actively in the professional community. You can learn more about opportunities for Professional Enhancement via the Milken Institute School of Public Health Listserv, through departmental communications, or by speaking with your advisor.

Students submit a completed Professional Enhancement Form to the Biostatistics Advisor, which includes a prior approval, a description of the program agenda, and proof of attendance before applying for graduation. 

Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Training

All students are required to complete the Basic CITI training module in Social and Behavioral Research.  This online training module for Social and Behavioral Researchers will help new students demonstrate and maintain sufficient knowledge of the ethical principles and regulatory requirements for protecting human subjects - key for any public health research.

Academic Integrity Quiz

All Milken Institute School of Public Health students are required to review the University’s Code of Academic Integrity and complete the GW Academic Integrity Activity.  This activity must be completed within 2 weeks of matriculation. Information on GWSPH Academic Integrity requirements can be found here.

See the program guide and the SPH Graduate Student Handbook for additional information.


General and Final Examinations

There are two parts to the examination requirements for the PhD Biostatistics.

Part I of the general comprehensive examination focuses on the course content of STAT 6201 and STAT 6202  and PUBH 6266. 

  • 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 by enrolling in appropriate masters-level courses as needed. 

Part II of this process is the research proposal.

  • This section consists of an oral examination based on a written dissertation research proposal. As soon as possible after successful completion of Part 1, the comprehensive exam, students work with the Program Director to identify a dissertation advisor, committee members from the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, and a research topic.

PhD Candidacy, approval for dissertation research.

Upon successful completion of the required coursework and both parts of the General Examination, the candidate will be recommended for promotion to PhD Candidacy in order to complete the dissertation research. More information is available in the Program Guide and from the Program Director.