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Biostatistics PhD Program

Offered On Campus in Tucson

The UA Zuckerman College of Public Health offers the following doctoral degrees with a focus in Biostatistics: Doctorate (PhD) in Biostatistics, and a PhD Minor in Biostatistics.

The PhD in Biostatistics is offered by the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. The doctoral degree program in Biostatistics will have an emphasis on the foundations of statistical reasoning and will require its graduates to complete rigorous training in applied probability and statistical analyses. This program prepares students who have demonstrated excellence in mathematics and the sciences to become research biostatisticians in academia, industry, or government.

To the extent possible, the curriculum of each student will be tailored to his or her background and interests. 

The doctoral program requires approximately four to five years for completion. The first two years of this time are usually devoted to coursework, the comprehensive doctoral examinations, and development of doctoral research. The program is research oriented and centers on a major research project. The overall course of study is developed by the student and the Faculty Advisor, and is approved by the student's Graduate committee and the Biostatistics Program Director. Students will be required to defend their dissertation through a public presentation and oral examination with their committee.

Admission Criteria Biostatistics PhD Program: Students with a prior MS degree in Biostatistics or Statistics are eligible for admission into the Biostatistics PhD program.  Students who enter the Biostatistics PhD program after completion of an MS/MPH degree from MEZCOPH, may use 23 units towards the Doctorate in Biostatistics (PhD). They will be allowed to substitute more advanced courses for any required courses already completed.


PhD in Biostatistics Competencies

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Required PhD Courses (35 units)

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Elective Courses* (minimum 12 units)

*Electives may also be chosen from other Statistics or Mathematics courses with approval of the Biostatistics Faculty.

Note: BIOS 576A, Biostatistics in Public Health (3 units), is considered a prerequisite, which will have been met by most entering students.

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Minor Courses (minimum 9 units)

Each PhD student must complete a minimum of 9 credit hours of course work in a minor area. The minor area of study specifies the number of required minor units. This should consist of a coherent set of courses in an area (or in related areas) of application of biostatistics; the courses may be from more than one program. Minor courses should be primarily applied as opposed to mathematics/statistical in nature.

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Dissertation (minimum 18 units)

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Total Minimum Credit Requirements = 74 units

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PhD Minor in Biostatistics

The PhD Minor in Biostatistics is designed for individuals from other University of Arizona doctoral degree programs who wish to obtain graduate training in Biostatistics.

Application Deadlines

Fall Application Deadlines

Priority:  December 1
Secondary:  April 1

Students who apply by the priority deadline will be given the highest priority for admissions and consideration for scholarships and assistantships.

Admissions Criteria

Admissions Criteria

  • Master's degree in Biostatistics, Statistics, or a similar field with GPA of 3.2 or higher
  • Strong quantitative skills
  • At least three semesters of college-level calculus through multivariable/vector calculus and one semester of linear algebra
  • Documented experience with a computer programming language (C/C++, Fortran, Java, Python or equivalent) is strongly recommended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume or CV
  • Statement of purpose and objectives
  • Writing sample
  • Mission and values statement
  • Official GRE scores (Due to issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak, the GRE requirement is waived for Fall 2021 admissions.)​
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores are required for international applicants
  • Relevant work/volunteer experience strengthens all applications
  • Detailed admissions criteria

How to Apply

Apply online through SOPHAS, the centralized application service for all of the accredited schools and programs of public health.

View more details on the steps to our application process.

Additional Information

Admissions Events > Join us for an upcoming admissions event.

Meet Our Students > Get to know our students.

International Students > Find admissions information specific to international students.


Typical time to completion: 3-5 years (2-3 years for coursework, 1-2 years for dissertation work) for full-time students. 5-8 years for part-time students.

Average time to completion: 7.33

Program Steps to Completion (Full-time student timeline):

  • Attend mandatory new student orientation
  • Students are expected to serve as a Teaching Assistant at least once during their time in the program
  • First year is devoted to course work
  • Work with Faculty Advisor to develop a tentative Plan of Study
  • Each Spring, complete an Annual Progress Report with Faculty Advisor
  • End of first Spring, take and pass the Qualifying Exam
  • Second year is devoted to course work and forming Comprehensive Exam Committee
  • Formalize Plan of Study by end of second year
  • Second/third year formalize Committee Chair and Comprehensive Exam Committee
  • Develop a Dissertation Research Proposal and gain Committee approval
  • If necessary, begin process for human subjects approval for dissertation
  • Take and pass Comprehensive Exams within one year of completing course work (written and oral)
  • Form and formalize Dissertation Committee
  • Third/fourth year, research, develop and write dissertation
  • Fourth/fifth year, successfully defend dissertation and finalize revisions

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