Biostatistics (MS)

Admission Requirements

The MS program is available to students who have completed an undergraduate degree in biostatistics, statistics, mathematics, or a related discipline and possess competency in college-level calculus, up to and including multivariable calculus (partial differentiation and multiple integration) and statistics as evidenced by transcripts from postsecondary institutions attended. 

The following are required for admission:

  • Graduate application submitted to the Graduate School.
  • Non-refundable application fee.
  • At least two letters of recommendation written within past twelve months, submitted as part of the graduate application
  • All post-secondary transcripts. Transcripts from institutions outside of the United States require a foreign credential evaluation.
    • The minimum undergraduate grade point average that will be considered for unconditional acceptance and admission is 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
    • Students lacking the necessary background in calculus (up to and including multivariable calculus with coverage of partial differentiation and multiple integration) may be conditionally admitted to the MS program under Provisional Probation status and required to complete remedial coursework in calculus, offered by the Department in the University of Louisville’s summer term. A minimum grade of B- in each course assigned to the student must be achieved (in addition to satisfaction of any other admission conditions) in order for the student to be fully admitted to the MS program. Students have one opportunity to satisfactorily complete all remedial courses assigned to them and all remedial courses must be completed prior to the student’s first Fall semester in the program. Students admitted under Provisional Probation status will be “discontinued” from the MS program if they fail to achieve this required calculus competency. The details of these and all conditional admissions are specified in the admission letter students receive from the Department.
  • A statement of purpose submitted to the department office, which must include desired degree program.
  • International students for whom English is not their primary language must show English language proficiency by one of the following:
    • TOEFL examination score at or above 550 (paper based test and a 5.0 on the TWE test), 213 (computer based test), 79 (internet based test)
    • IELTS test score of 6.5 or higher
    • Duolingo test score of 105 or higher
    • ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) certification
    • Successfully passing the exit examination for the advanced level of an Intensive English as a Second Language Program
    • Demonstration of a degree awarded from an institution with instruction primarily in English, as formally documented by an appropriate institutional official

Application Deadline

  • Fall semester – July 1 (International applicants); July 25 (Domestic applicants).
  • Spring semester – Applications are not accepted.
  • Summer semester – April 1 (International applicants); April 15 (Domestic applicants).
    • Summer admission is only for student seeking provisional admission to the MS with the requirement to complete our Math Tools sequence in remedial calculus.
    •  

Program Requirements

The MS program in biostatistics can be completed by one of three options. The descriptions below are for students who have completed all prerequisite courses for required and elective courses included in each degree program. Additional credit hours may be needed for remediation of missing or lacking student capabilities encountered following matriculation or for capabilities outside the standard coursework required for an identified project or thesis.

  • The Standard Program is a 30 credit hour, non-thesis curriculum that emphasizes a broad understanding of biostatistics and can be completed in three semesters by full-time students. The standard program can be completed in a traditional classroom format or entirely online.
  • The Thesis Option involves continuing beyond the required coursework for the standard program to pursue the preparation and defense of a master’s thesis in an additional semester, during which the student enrolls for a thesis research course for no fewer than six (6) credit hours. The thesis option is recommended for students intending to pursue a PhD degree or wanting to pursue a research project that interests them. However, a master’s thesis is a requirement for the thesis option only. A student who elects to pursue the thesis option and subsequently does not successfully complete the thesis remains eligible for the award of degree under the standard program.
  • The Bioinformatics Concentration is a 30 credit hour, non-thesis curriculum that is based on coursework in bioinformatics and biostatistics and can also be completed in three semesters by full-time students. The Bioinformatics concentration is currently available in a traditional classroom format only.

Coursework Requirements

Core Coursework 112
Concentration Coursework18
Thesis (optional)[6]
Minimum Total Hours30

For a detailed description of the degree requirements and course listing for each option, click on the "Concentration Requirements" tab.

Students will declare their intended degree option upon entrance to the program.  Students may choose to move onto a different program path upon discussion with the Program Director.  However, switching between the standard program and the Bioinformatics concentration will typically lead to a delay in degree fulfillment due to the differences in the required coursework.  Students intending to graduate with the thesis option will begin with the standard program.  At the completion of the spring semester of the first year for full-time students (the completion of at least 19 credit hours for part time students), students that have not yet declared for the thesis option may make this declaration, if desired.

Award of degree from an accredited school of public health requires successful completion of the equivalent of three (3) credit hours of instruction that provides students a broad introduction to public health. Students with a prior degree and/or coursework from a CEPH accredited school or program of public health may be relieved of this requirement, per approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Program Core

The following courses are required for all three tracks:

Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
FallHours
PHST 661 Probability 3
PHST 680 Biostatistical Methods I 3
PHPH 523 Public Health in the United States 1 (3)
 Hours6
Spring
PHST 662 Mathematical Statistics 3
PHST 681 Biostatistical Methods II 3
 Hours6
 Minimum Total Hours12
1

PHPH 523 fulfills the accreditation requirement that all graduates from the School of Public Health and Information Science receive foundational instruction in public health. The three (3) credit hours for PHPH 523 do not accrue toward the 30 credit hours required for MS degree completion. Students with a prior degree and/or coursework from a CEPH accredited school or program of public health may be relieved of this requirement, per approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Concentration Coursework

The course tables below list all required courses for each track, including the Program Core courses listed under the Degree Requirements tab.

Standard Program Curriculum

Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
FallHours
PHST 661 Probability 3
PHST 680 Biostatistical Methods I 3
PHST 624 Clinical Trials I: Planning and Design 2
PHPH 523 Public Health in the United States 1 (3)
 Hours8
Spring
PHST 662 Mathematical Statistics 3
PHST 681 Biostatistical Methods II 3
PHST 684 Categorical Data Analysis 3
PHST 625 Clinical Trials II 2
 Hours11
Year 2
Fall
PHST 683 Survival Analysis 3
PHST 620 Introduction to Statistical Computing 3
Various Electives 2 5
 Hours11
 Minimum Total Hours30
1

PHPH 523 fulfills the accreditation requirement that all graduates from the School of Public Health and Information Science receive foundational instruction in public health. The three (3) credit hours for PHPH 523 do not accrue toward the 30 credit hours required for MS degree completion. Students with a prior degree and/or coursework from a CEPH accredited school or program of public health may be relieved of this requirement, per approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

2

Electives are chosen with the approval of a faculty advisor.  Students are typically encouraged to select electives from among the following courses offered by the Department of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics:

Standard Program Electives 

PHST 603Biostatistics Public Health Practicum I1-2
PHST 640Statistical Methods for Research Design in Health Sciences3
PHMS 641Data Mining I3
PHST 675Independent Study in Biostatistics1-3
PHST 682Multivariate Statistical Analysis3

Subject to the approval of a faculty advisor, students are also welcome to choose elective courses outside of the department in fields related to biostatistics, such as Mathematics, Epidemiology, and Computer Science.  Students seeking to pursue elective coursework outside the department are responsible for ensuring they have met the prerequisites for these courses.


Bioinformatics Concentration Curriculum

Since the curriculum for the Bioinformatics concentration differs from the standard program at the beginning of the first semester of study, students electing the Bioinformatics concentration must declare this choice at or before enrollment.

Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
FallHours
PHST 661 Probability 3
PHST 680 Biostatistical Methods I 3
BIOC 545 Biochemistry I 3
PHPH 523 Public Health in the United States 1 (3)
 Hours9
Spring
PHST 662 Mathematical Statistics 3
PHST 681 Biostatistical Methods II 3
Various electives 2 3
 Hours9
Year 2
Fall
PHST 710 Advanced Statistical Computing I 3
PHST 655 Basic Statistical Methods for Bioinformatics 3
PHMS 641 Data Mining I 3
Various electives 2 3
 Hours12
 Minimum Total Hours30
1

PHPH 523 fulfills the accreditation requirement that all graduates from the School of Public Health and Information Science receive foundational instruction in public health. The three (3) credit hours for PHPH 523 do not accrue toward the 30 credit hours required for MS degree completion. Students with a prior degree and/or coursework from a CEPH accredited school or program of public health may be relieved of this requirement, per approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

2

 Students must accumulate a minimum of six (6) credit hours of electives.  These may be distributed among semesters as the student chooses. Electives are chosen with the approval of a faculty advisor.  Students are encouraged to select electives from among the following courses:

Bioinformatics Concentration Electives

PHST 603Biostatistics Public Health Practicum I1-2
PHST 620Introduction to Statistical Computing3
PHST 675Independent Study in Biostatistics1-3
PHST 682Multivariate Statistical Analysis3
PHST 684Categorical Data Analysis3
BIOC 547Advanced Biochemistry II3
BIOC 603Special Topics in Biochemistry1-4

Thesis Option (Standard Curriculum)

The curriculum for the thesis option of the MS degree consists of additional thesis hours beyond the completion of the curriculum for the standard program. Students must declare to enroll in the thesis option at the completion of the spring semester of the first year for full-time students (the completion of at least 19 credit hours for part time students). Only after completion of the required 30 credit hours of coursework in the standard program curriculum, students electing the thesis option enroll for a minimum of six (6) credit hours of thesis research (PHST 666) in the spring semester of the second year, and typically write and defend a thesis by the end of that semester.

Plan of Study Grid
Year 2
SpringHours
PHST 666 Master's Thesis Research 1 6
 Hours6
 Minimum Total Hours6
1

 Students wishing to maintain full-time status may register for more than six (6) credit hours of thesis or additional coursework.

Thesis

A student may apply to pursue preparation and defense of a master’s thesis following completion of the required standard program coursework. Pursuing an optional thesis requires permission of the program director. The thesis topic is approved by the major professor and thesis committee, chaired by the major professor. The student identifies a desired mentor to become his or her major professor, who is recommended by the program director and appointed by the academic dean. The major professor (or at least one when there are co-major professors) must be from the Department of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics. Following appointment, the major professor becomes the student’s faculty advisor. Procedures for the thesis are given below.

Thesis Committee

Working with the major professor, the student identifies at least two or more additional desired committee members. Including the major professor, at least two members of the committee must be faculty in the Department of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics and at least one member must be from outside the department. The committee members are then recommended by the program director and appointed by the academic dean.

Thesis Preparation

The thesis is prepared in format according to the guidelines established by the Graduate School. It is the responsibility of each student to ensure that the readability and quality of writing in his/her thesis meets professional standards.  Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the services offered by the University Writing Center when writing their theses. The services offered by the Writing Center are free to the student.

Thesis Approval

Final approval of the thesis is voted upon by the thesis committee after an oral defense of the thesis by the student.  Students submit their theses to members of their committee two or more weeks prior to the date of the oral defense.  Approval of the thesis is by majority vote of the committee after the oral defense.

Students are required by the Graduate School to provide two weeks’ notice when scheduling oral defenses.  This requirement permits those wanting to attend the oral defense adequate time to make arrangements for attending.  Students must follow the below procedure for scheduling oral defenses:

  1. Identify a date and time for the oral defense in consultation with the thesis advisor and members of the committee.
  2. Request a room reservation for the oral defense through the Department’s Administrative Assistant.
  3. Notify the Department’s Administrative Assistant of the date, time, and location of the oral defense as well as the title of the thesis.  The Department’s Administrative Assistant will circulate an announcement of the defense as well as notify the SPHIS Office of Student Services of the defense, who in turn notify Graduate School.
  4. Distribute technically and grammatically error-free copies of the thesis to all committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense date.

There are no exceptions to these requirements and students will not be permitted by the Department to schedule defenses with less than two weeks’ notice.  Students are expected to be aware of university deadlines for theses and to ensure that the two weeks’ notice requirement is fulfilled within these university deadlines.  Students are strongly encouraged to allow for even greater than two weeks’ notice to ensure that all deadlines and requirements are fulfilled.

Thesis Submission

The following steps must be taken to submit the final copy of the thesis electronically after oral defense and approval of the committee:

  1. Final document must be converted to a PDF (following the guidelines as noted above) and sent to the Graduate School and the department’s administrative assistant.
  2. Submit as advised by the Graduate School through the ThinkIR repository. The directions on submission will be provided upon review of the thesis by the Graduate School.
  3. The signature page within the electronic version must have the names of the committee members typed under the signature line; the signatures cannot be scanned into the document.
  4. Submit a signed signature page (digital/electronic signature page or a hard copy on white paper, with original signatures) to the Graduate School.

An electronic copy of the thesis must be provided to the Department’s Administrative Assistant.