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Biostatistics Facts and Figures:

Department of Biostatistics

The Masters of Science (MS) and Masters of Public Health (MPH) Programs

The MS and MPH programs both require 48 credit hours and are designed for completion in 4 terms (2 years). The two programs have identical requirements in biostatistics but differ in their other requirements. Both programs include the following (or equivalent) courses:

A. Core courses in Biostatistics (22 credit hours)

Courses Credits Title Usual Term
BIOS 601 4 Probability and Distribution Theory Fall, Year 1
BIOS 602 4 Biostatistical Inference Winter, Year 1
BIOS 650 4 Applied Statistics I: Linear Regression Fall, Year 1
BIOS 651 3 Applied Statistics II: Generalized Linear Models Winter, Year 1
BIOS 653 3 Applied Statistics III: ANOVA and Linear Mixed Models Winter, Year 1
BIOS 699 4 Analysis of Biostatistical Investigations Winter, Year 2

B. Electives in Biostatistics or Statistics (12 credit hours)

At least 12 additional credit hours of Biostatistics or Statistics courses are required in addition to the core courses. They may be selected from Biostatistics at the 600/800 level or from Statistics at the 500/600 level. Generally one credit courses such as one-credit seminars and journal clubs do not count as electives. Courses that fall under this umbrella are: Biostat 600, Biostat 605, Biostat 510 and Biostat 803. Biostat 830 is a "special topics" seminar course, which does count towards elective requirement.

C. Epidemiology Requirement

All students in the School of Public Health are required to demonstrate competency in biostatistics and epidemiology. The epidemiology requirement may be satisfied in any one of the following ways:

  1. Completing Epidemiology Epidemiology 601 (Fall) or 503 (Winter).
  2. Taking and passing the Epidemiology 503 exemption examination.
  3. Completing Epidemiology 516 and any necessary prerequisites to that course. Option available to MS student but not to MPH students.

D1. Cognate Requirements

(MS students only)

MS students must complete at least 9 hours of course work in a cognate area. This should consist of a coherent set of courses in an area (or in related areas) of application of biostatistics; the courses should be approved for graduate credit and may be from more than one department. Cognate courses should be primarily applied as opposed to mathematics/statistical in nature. For example, courses in areas such as mathematics, statistics, operational research, computer science, econometrics and psychometrics would most likely not qualify as cognate courses. Courses from other departments in Public Health or in areas such as genetics, biology, psychology, economics and many other similar areas will likely qualify as cognate courses. Courses in Bioinformatics that are biological or experimental in nature would typically count toward the cognate, whereas those that are more quantitative or technical would not. Courses taken to satisfy the epidemiology requirement count toward the cognate requirement. Faculty advisors can provide guidance and recommend approval of cognate courses. If questions arise on review by Student Services, the Curriculum Committee will make the final decision.

Waivers of cognate requirements . It is possible to have cognate courses taken in a graduate program elsewhere recognized and to receive a partial or complete waiver. It should be noted, however, that if the previously taken courses were applied toward a degree, the required credit hours for the UM degree will not be reduced. A waiver of cognate requirements should be discussed with your advisor and must be approved by the Curriculum Committee and all requests must go through the Department's Student Services office.

D2. Breadth, Integration and Capstone Requirements

(MPH students only) All MPH students in the School of Public Health are required to take coursework for the breadth and integration of knowledge, and a capstone activity. BIOS 699, one of the Core Biostatistics courses, serves for integration of knowledge and as the capstone activity in Biostatistics. To satisfy the Breadth requirement, MPH students in Biostatistics are required to take at least 3 Public Health related courses each of at least 2 hours of credit. One of these courses must be in epidemiology and the other two must be from two other departments (not biostatistics, statistics, or mathematics). These courses are usually from the School of Public Health, but for example, could also include courses from the School of Public Policy, the Department of Economics, or the School of Natural Resources, if they are appropriately oriented towards Public Health. Including the general Epidemiology requirement, at least 12 credit hours of such coursework is required. Each student's program must be approved by the Biostatistics curriculum committee in order to assure that the course work is related to Public Health. 

D3. Internship (MPH only, new requirement beginning Fall 2013 cohort)

All MPH students are required to complete an 8 week internship.  The purpose of the internship is to provide the student with practical, hands on training as a biostatistician in an appropriate government, industry or non-profit organization within the public health sector. This internship should take place during the summer after the student's first year as an MPH student.  The student is responsible for securing the internship and must find a faculty member representative/mentor.  The Office of Public Health Practice ( and STATCOM ( are two resources available that may help students find an appropriate internship.  All internships must be approved by the Department of Biostatistics.  A final report is to be written and turned in to the faculty mentor.

D4. Public Health Requirement (new requirement for MS and Ph.D students beginning Fall 2013 cohort)

All MS and Ph.D students (who do not have MPH degree) are required to take a 1-credit course on "Introduction to Public Health" (PUBHLTH 610) during the first semester of the program. This course will be offered in the Fall of every year and may count towards the cognate requirement.

Sample Programs of Study for Master's Students

There are two sequences of study a Master's student may choose to follow. Please see Table 1 for the standard sequence of required courses for Master's students who intend to complete their graduate study with a Master's degree. 

Please see Table 2 for a sample sequence of courses for Master's students who intend to continue in the PhD program. 

Joint Master's Program

Students in a joint Master's program between Biostatistics and another area of study have the same core courses as students with a single major in Biostatistics. However, they are required to complete only three elective courses in Biostatistics (9 credit hours). 

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