Skip to Content Skip to Search
SEARCH
College of Medicine image

Biostatistics PhD

Biostatistics PhD Program Details

The objectives of PhD in Biostatistics program are to train students in the theory and methodology of biostatistics and prepare them for careers as biostatisticians in universities, academic medical centers, government, and private industry.

Students will complete a core curriculum in applied and theoretical multivariate statistics. In addition, two elective courses are required in an applied setting such as epidemiology, health services research and health economics.

After coursework is completed, students will pass a candidacy exam and complete and defend a dissertation. The program is generally able to be completed in four years of full-time study.

Core Curriculum

All students enrolled in the PhD program will be required to successfully complete a minimum of 31 accumulated course credit hours.

Required Biostatistics/Statistics Courses

(All of the following are required.)

  • PHS 523 Multivariate Analysis (3 credits)
  • PHS 524 Longitudinal Data Analysis (3 credits)
  • PHS 526 Categorical Data Analysis (3 credits)
  • PHS 527 Survival Analysis (3 credits)
  • PHS 528 Bayesian Methods (3 credits)
  • PHS 582 Biostatistical Methods in Clinical Trials (3 credits)
  • PHS 583 Asymptotic Tools (3 credits)

Required Epidemiology and/or Health Services Research Courses

(Choose two of the following.)

  • PHS 535 Quality of Care Measurement (3 credits)
  • PHS 536 Health Survey Research Methods (3 credits)
  • PHS 550 Principles of Epidemiology (3 credits)
  • PHS 551 Advanced Epidemiological Methods (3 credits)
  • PHS 552 Molecular Epidemiology of Chronic Disease (3 credits)
  • PHS 570 Health Economics & Economic Evaluation (3 credits)

Required Elective

(Choose one of the following.)

  • PHS 516 Statistical Genetics (3 credits)
  • PHS 554 Statistical Methods in Public Health I (3 credits)
  • PHS 555 Statistical Methods in Public Health II (3 credits)
  • PHS 517 Mining Genomic Data (3 credits)
  • Special topics course in statistics/biostatistics (3 credits)

Other Requirements

  • A Research Ethics course, PHS 500 or BMS 591 (1 credit)
  • A candidacy exam taken after completion of the first year, based on the coursework in PHS 523, PHS 524, PHS 526, PHS 527 and PHS 528
  • A comprehensive examination upon completion of the coursework
  • PHS 600 Thesis Research, allowed beginning at the end of the second year
  • A PhD dissertation (PHS 601)
  • A final oral examination

Sample Course Sequence

This is an example course sequence for a full-time student.

Year 1, Fall

  • PHS 523 Multivariate Analysis (3 credits)
  • PHS 526 Categorical Data Analysis (3 credits)
  • PHS 550 Principles of Epidemiology (3 credits)

Year 1, Spring

  • PHS 527 Survival Analysis (3 credits)
  • PHS 528 Bayesian Methods (3 credits)
  • PHS 524 Longitudinal Data Analysis (3 credits)
  • PHS 500 Research Ethics for Clinical Investigation (1 credit)

Year 2, Fall

  • PHS 583 Asymptotic Tools (3 credits)
  • PHS 554 Statistical Methods in Public Health I (3 credits)
  • Additional EPI or HSR course (3 credits)

Year 2, Spring

  • PHS 555 Statistical Methods in Public Health II (3 credits)
  • PHS 600 Thesis Preparation (6 credits)

Years 3 and 4

Biostatistics PhD students may take elective courses during their third and fourth years in the program.

The primary focus in these two years will be on the research and writing of the dissertation.

PHS 600 (Thesis Research) allows the student to register for 1 to 9 credits of research each semester.

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Penn State Health Children's Hospital
Penn State Cancer Institute
Penn State University