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MS - Biostatistics

Offered On Campus in Tucson

The Master of Science in Biostatistics is offered by the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. The educational objective is to prepare individuals to work effectively as applied biostatisticians in a variety of public health, epidemiological and clinical research settings.  The difference between the MS in Biostatistics and the MPH concentration in Biostatistics is that the MS provides training in probability and statistical theory with a research focus, while the MPH provides a broader background in public health.  

The overall course of study for the MS degree will be developed by the student and their Faculty Advisor and approved by the student's Graduate Committee and Biostatistics Program Director. On average, the MS program requires approximately two years for completion. The first year is usually devoted to core coursework and completion of the qualifying exam. The second year is focused on remaining coursework and development of the master's thesis research.

Students who join the MS Biostatistics program and pass the Biostatistics Qualifying Exam after their first year of coursework may apply directly to the PhD program without completing the MS degree. If admitted to the PhD program, all of the coursework taken in the first year would then count towards the PhD degree.


MS in Biostatistics Competencies

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Required Major Courses (24 units)

  • EPID 573A Basic Principles of Epidemiology (3)
  • BIOS 576A Biostatistics in Public Health (3)
  • BIOS 576B Biostatistics for Research (3)
  • BIOS 576C Applied Biostatistics Analysis (3)
  • BIOS 585 Public Health Fundamentals for Researchers (3)
  • BIOS 688 Statistical Consulting (3)
  • MATH 564 Theory of Probability (3)
  • MATH 566 Theory of Statistics (3)

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Elective Courses, Computational/Modern Methods Module (minimum 6 units required)*

Choose from:

  • BIOS 576D* Data Management and the SAS Programming Language (3)
  • BIOS 511* Healthcare Data Science (3)
  • STAT 675 Statistical Computing (3)
  • BIOS 648  Analysis of High Dimensional Data (3)

*Three units must come from BIOS 576D or BIOS 511

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Culminating Experience: Choose one of the following options (minimum 3 units)

  • Master's Project, BIOS 699 Independent Study (3 units)
  • Master's Project, BIOS 900 Research (3 units)
  • Master's Thesis, BIOS 910 Thesis (6 units)

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Oral Defense of Thesis Research or Project and completion of a professional portfolio are required.

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Total Minimum Credit Requirement = 33 units


Other offerings (all 3 credits)

  • BIOS 684 Mixed Effects Models and Longitudinal Data
  • BIOS 675 Clinical Trials
  • BIOS 647 Categorical Data Analysis 
  • BIOS 685 Special Topics in Biostatistics
  • BIOS 686 Survival Analysis
  • BIOS 687 Theory of Linear Models
  • BIOS 696S Biostatistics Seminar
  • STAT 571B Design of Experiments
  • EPID 677 Genetic Association Studies

Application Deadlines

Fall Application Deadlines

Priority:  December 1

Secondary:  April 1

Final: June 1 for US applicants only

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

  • Bachelor's degree with GPA of 3.2 or higher required for MS applicants
  • 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
  • Mission and values statement
  • GRE scores are waived for Fall 2022 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

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Meet Our Students > Get to know our students.

International Students > Find admissions information specific to international students.


Typical time to completion: 2 years full-time students, 3-4 years part-time students.

Average time to completion: 2.32

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

  • Attend mandatory new student orientation
  • First year is devoted to course work
  • Each Spring, complete an Annual Progress Report with Faculty Advisor
  • Second semester, identify Thesis Chair
  • End of first Spring, take the Qualifying Exam
  • Second year is devoted to course work and Thesis research/development
  • If necessary, begin process for human subjects approval for thesis
  • Third semester, form thesis committee
  • Begin research/thesis development
  • Fourth semester, successfully defend thesis and finalize revisions

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