About the program


Students who enter our PhD program in Biostatistics will learn to creatively apply their knowledge of statistical theory and methodology to statistical problems in the biological and health sciences. Graduates of this program are equipped with the research, teaching, and consulting skills needed for biostatistics careers in industry or academia.

Learning Objectives and Program Overview

  • After completing this degree, the student should be able to:

    1. Identify and develop appropriate statistical designs for biomedical research studies;
    2. Identify and perform an appropriate statistical analysis of biomedical data to address a given research question;
    3. Proficiently apply specialized computer software to manage and analyze biomedical data and summarize/interpret results;
    4. Write a statistical analysis and results sections for a manuscript as part of a research team;
    5. Describe and develop mathematical and statistical theory underlying biostatistical methods;
    6. Develop and evaluate new and existing statistical methodology as part of a research team.
  • All students enroll in a set of core courses that cover biostatistical theory and applications. At the end of the first year, students take a two-day written screening exam assessing mastery of these topics. Students then choose from one of four tracks that will allow them to develop expertise in a specific area:

    • Biostatistics Theory
    • Statistical Genetics
    • Environmental Statistics
    • Clinical Trials

    Students then take all remaining core and track-specific courses in preparation for the qualifying examination. The qualifying exam focuses on the student’s dissertation topic and includes both a written and oral component. Subsequent efforts are devoted to dissertation research and culminate in the PhD defense. A minimum of 60 units of graduate study is required for the PhD degree; a maximum of 19 of these units may be from research and dissertation.

PhD Characteristics

The USC Graduate School is committed to providing detailed information on the inputs, outcomes, and overall characteristics of its PhD programs, for the purposes of full transparency and to support informed decision-making.

Program Director

What excites me about our program is that our faculty and students’ work is motivated by open methodological problems needed to answer real-world questions in medicine and public health. Students work closely with faculty, learning in a hands-on apprenticeship model.

Sandrah Eckel, PhD
Email: eckel@usc.edu
Phone: (323)442-2030
Sandrah Eckel, PhD

Division Chief

This is an extremely exciting time in the world of biomedical research, with the wide availability of comprehensive data resources and measurement techniques in the fields of genomics, geographic information systems, and mobile devices. We provide state-of-theart statistical training to use such resources in the study of new risk factors, treatments, and prevention of disease.

William Gauderman, PhD
Division Chief
Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences
Email: jimg@usc.edu
Phone: (323)422-1567
William Gauderman, PhD

Student Experiences

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