Education
Fact-checked

At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

How do I get a Biostatistics PhD?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Obtaining a biostatistics PhD is not always easy. There are number of universities that offer training in this area, but getting into a PhD program can still be difficult. It requires, at minimum, completion of a bachelor’s degree in related fields like statistics or applied mathematics. People should have completed all courses related to their major or to the sciences with B grades at minimum.

Once students are on their way or have met this requirement, they’ll need to start investigating the many schools that offer a biostatistics PhD. These degrees might come from a stand-alone biostatistics department or the doctorate in biostatistics may be offered by another university department like Public Health, Statistics, or Epidemiology. Students should read any information available about the program’s focus and compare this to their ideas for how they might use this degree. For instance those interested in applying the techniques of biostatistics to research on human health may be best served getting a biostatistics PhD from a program related to public health or epidemiology.

It takes about four to five years, and sometimes longer to get a biostatistics PhD.
It takes about four to five years, and sometimes longer to get a biostatistics PhD.

As students examine schools, they’ll want to consider costs, distance, program value, and school reputation. Ultimately students should plan to make applications to three or four schools. This will increase likelihood of getting accepted to at least one, so work on the biostatistics PhD can begin. Some schools may give preference to students with a master’s degree, and this might be considered as an alternate option first, if a student is unsure whether they want to commit to a PhD program.

PhD students often work more closely with professors and academic advisors than undergraduate students.
PhD students often work more closely with professors and academic advisors than undergraduate students.

It takes about four to five years, and sometimes longer to get a biostatistics PhD. At minimum, a student will spend three years working on this degree, but finishing in this short time is rare. Programs will likely require several years of classes, and may insist that students spend part of their time teaching or assisting in labs. For the student, these experiences may actually be beneficial. Students are usually paid for their work, which may reduce overall costs of attending school.

Many students pursuing a biostatistics PhD may spent have to spend a certain amount of time assisting in labs.
Many students pursuing a biostatistics PhD may spent have to spend a certain amount of time assisting in labs.

Many schools have an option to leave the program at master’s level. Prior to beginning work on the dissertation, students may choose to exit the program (though this isn’t always encouraged) and may have earned enough credits to receive a master’s degree. There is certainly work for people with master’s level studies in the field of biostatistics. However, the top jobs are likely to go to people with a biostatistics PhD.

Students who don’t opt at master’s level are likely to complete a dissertation or research study, which will be read and judged by members of the biostatistics department. Each school will have different requirements about length and subject of dissertation. Once this is graded as acceptable, students will officially be awarded their PhD.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent WiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent WiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • It takes about four to five years, and sometimes longer to get a biostatistics PhD.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      It takes about four to five years, and sometimes longer to get a biostatistics PhD.
    • PhD students often work more closely with professors and academic advisors than undergraduate students.
      By: Tyler Olson
      PhD students often work more closely with professors and academic advisors than undergraduate students.
    • Many students pursuing a biostatistics PhD may spent have to spend a certain amount of time assisting in labs.
      By: nandyphotos
      Many students pursuing a biostatistics PhD may spent have to spend a certain amount of time assisting in labs.