Degree Programs

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The PhD program is designed for those who have demonstrated both interest and ability in scholarly research. The department’s program is designed to prepare students for careers in the theory and practice of biostatistics and bioinformatics, and includes training in the development of methodology, consulting, teaching, and collaboration on a broad spectrum of problems related to human health, genomics, and basic biology.

The Ph.D. program in Biostatistics prepares students in the following five specific competencies:

  1. Applying innovative probabilistic and statistical theory and computing methods to the development of new biostatistical or bioinformatics methodology, publishing of original methodological research, and the solution of public health problems.
  2. Providing scientific and biostatistical or bioinformatics leadership in the design, conduct, and analysis of collaborative research studies in medicine and public health.
  3. Applying modern statistical and computational methods to effectively analyze complex medical and public health data, including the development of new software for non-standard problems and simulation methods.
  4. Collaborating and communicating effectively with research scientists in related disciplines.
  5. Teaching biostatistics or bioinformatics effectively to health professionals, research scientists, and graduate students.


All candidates for admission to the Ph.D. and Master’s programs should have successfully completed calculus through multivariable integration and one semester of linear algebra. Knowledge of a programming language is also required. Evidence that these requirements have been fulfilled should form part of the application. In addition, all applicants are strongly encouraged to have completed courses in probability, statistics, advanced calculus or real analysis, and numerical analysis. Students with interests in bioinformatics are also encouraged to have completed courses in biology, computational biology, and genetics. Practical knowledge of a statistical computing package such as SAS, Splus, R, Stata, or SPSS is also desirable. Students interested in bioinformatics should also have knowledge of a scripting language such as Python or Perl and some familiarity with relational databases. From time to time the Department will admit students to our programs without this level of preparation with the understanding that the student will promptly make up any deficiencies, usually by taking additional courses prior to entering the program.

In addition, the Department Summer Program, which is held in August, is designed to review basic concepts of probability, statistics, and computing prior to the first semester in the Ph.D. program.


Qualified applicants may apply to this program without a prior advanced degree.
Online application for admission to the Ph.D. program is located on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Admissions Office website.
For more information on general requirements for admission:
GSAS Admissions Office
(617) 496-6100

Master of Science Degree

The Master of Science programs in Biostatistics train students in the basics of statistical theory, biostatistical and bioinformatics methods in planning studies, conducting analyses, and writing reports, the interpretation of numeric data for scientific inference in studies in medicine and public health, and the ability to collaborate and communicate effectively with scientists in related disciplines. Application areas include observational studies, clinical trials, computational biology and quantitative genomics, statistical genetics, and medical and public health research, among other areas.

The Department of Biostatistics offers several Master of Science programs, with the appropriate program dependent on the student’s background and interests.

The two-year 80-credit Master of Science (SM2) degree provides training in statistical theory and a variety of statistical, computational, and bioinformatics methods for application in medicine and public health. Two areas of interest are offered: Biostatistics and Bioinformatics. The SM2 program is appropriate for students considering doctoral level work or Master’s level medical research positions upon completion.

The one-year 42.5-credit Master of Science (SM1) degree is designed for students with a mathematical and statistical background sufficient to achieve a level of proficiency after one year of study comparable to that obtained in the SM2 program. Students who have a Master’s degree in one of the mathematical sciences or a doctorate in a quantitative field may be qualified for a one-year SM program.

The 60-credit Master of Science (SM60) degree has an applied emphasis and is designed for students seeking medical research positions in biostatistics upon completion.

The 80-credit Master of Science in Computational Biology (SM2) degree, offered jointly with the Department of Epidemiology, provides students with the rigorous quantitative training and essential skills needed to successfully meet the challenges presented by large-scale public health data — “Big Data” — in biomedical research.  It is intended as a terminal professional degree which will enable you to launch your career in bioinformatics. It can also provide the foundation for further doctoral studies in biostatistics, epidemiology, computational biology, and other related fields.


Online application for admission to the SM programs is located on the School of Public Health Admissions Office website.
For information on general requirements for admission: HSPH Catalog or HSPH Admissions Office
(617) 432-1031