Master’s Programs

The Department offers 5 Master of Science programs – each is designed for students with varying backgrounds & goals

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.

Download the Biostatistics Doctoral Student Handbook for more information on the doctoral program, and download the Biostatistics Master’s Student Handbook for more information on the Masters’ programs.

Master of Science Degrees

80-credit Master of Science in Biostatistics

Provides training in statistical theory and a variety of statistical and computational methods for application in medicine and public health. This program is appropriate for students considering doctoral level work or Master’s level medical research positions upon completion.

60-credit Master of Science in Biostatistics

Designed to prepare students with a quantitative undergraduate degree for applied research positions in universities, hospitals, and industry. This program requires the completion of a thesis in addition to coursework.

42.5-credit Master of Science in Biostatistics

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 80-credit 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.

80-credit Master of Science in Comp Bio & Quantitative Genetics

Offered jointly with the Department of Epidemiology, this program 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.

60-credit Master of Science in Health Data Science

The Master of Science (SM) in Health Data Science provides students with the rigorous quantitative training and essential computing skills needed to manage and analyze health science data in order to address today’s most important questions in public health, medicine, and basic biology. Offered by the Department of Biostatistics, this new 60-credit program is designed to provide participants with the knowledge base and targeted skills required for rigorous work in health data science.

Eligibility Requirements

All candidates for admission to Master’s programs must have:

  • Successfully completed calculus through multivariable integration and one semester of linear algebra
  • Knowledge of a programming language

All candidates for admission to Master’s programs are encouraged to have:

  • Completed courses in: probability, statistics, advanced calculus or real analysis, and numerical analysis
  • Practical knowledge of a statistical computing package such as SAS, Splus, R, Stata, or SPSS
  • Have completed courses in biology, computational biology, and genetics, if interested in bioinformatics
  • Knowledge of a scripting language such as Python or Perl and some familiarity with relational databases, if interested in bioinformatics

On rare occasions 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.


Funding for master’s students is limited, and all applicants are encouraged to apply for outside scholarships.  The Department will try to match master’s applicants with competitive Harvard scholarships in the area of their research interest, master’s students are encouraged to find part-time research or teaching assistantships.

For more assistance with funding for master’s programs, please contact SPH Student Financial Services.

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