Department of Preventive Medicine

Division of Biostatistics

Ph.D. in Biostatistics

This program is designed to produce a biometrician who has a deep knowledge of statistical theory and methodology, and who is able to apply this knowledge creatively to the solution of statistical problems arising in the biological and health sciences. The program requires a solid core of courses in the theoretical aspects of statistics, and a wide range of courses in the methodological aspects of statistics. Graduates of this program are prepared for careers in teaching, research, and consulting in biostatistics. This program encourages applicants who have undergraduate degrees in mathematics, statistics, biostatistics, or other related fields to apply.

Preparation for the Screening Examination

Prior to the Screening Examination a mentor who will serve on the Guidance Committee must be identified. The Screening Examination will consist of an Applied portion and a Theory portion. Examination questions for the Applied portion will be drawn from the Core courses for the MS degree in Biostatistics. A portion of the examination questions for the Theory portion of the Screening Examination will be drawn from Core Courses. Additional examination questions may be drawn from other Biometry Core/Elective courses (such as PM518b or PM552) or from electives representing the research focus of the student. The content area of the Theory portion requires approval of the Biostatistics/Epidemiology program Directors. A student failing the Screening Examination may be given a second opportunity to retake either or both portions of the Screening Examination. Students failing the examination for the second time will terminate with the MS degree upon satisfactory completion of 33 units and an acceptable thesis.

Preparation for the Qualifying Examination

A formal Guidance Committee will be formed, consisting of five faculty members; up to four from within the Department of Preventive Medicine (one designated as Chair), and at least one from an outside department offering a Ph.D. degree. The Committee will recommend courses in preparation for the Qualifying Examination based on the student’s research and dissertation topic. At least two semesters of PM 610 are recommended. Prior to the Qualifying Examination, a written draft of the background and methods sections of the proposed dissertation must be submitted to the Guidance Committee. The dissertation should be oriented toward a theoretical-methodological application to a problem area in the biological or health sciences.

Qualifying Examination

An oral Qualifying Examination will ascertain the student's competence in communicating the rationale of the research proposal and plans for conducting the dissertation research. In addition, the Qualifying Examination will test the student's integration of knowledge in biometry and the health sciences.

Dissertation and Oral Defense

Upon passing the qualifying examination, the Ph.D. candidate and his/her chair will recommend a three-member Dissertation Committee. The dissertation should be completed within two years of the Qualifying Examination. The Dissertation Defense is an oral examination based on a rough draft or final version of the dissertation. The Dissertation defense is administered by the Dissertation Committee and other faculty and students are invited to attend.

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