Graduate Programs in Biostatistics

The Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, offers graduate training programs leading to the Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in Biostatistics. Ranked 8th highest in the nation among Biostatistics programs in the US News and World Report 2014. For complete details please visit the Graduate Group in Epidemiology and Biostatistics (GGEB) website:

Follow the links to see our Current and Graduated Students.

MS program

The MS program trains students in the theory and application of statistical methods in the biomedical sciences. The MS degree, which is earned in 21 months of full-time study, requires successful completion of a written qualifying exam and a Master’s thesis. Courses include probability, mathematical statistics, epidemiology, and statistical methods including categorical data analysis, linear models, multivariate methods, survival analysis, statistical computing and applied data analysis.

PhD program

The PhD program trains independent researchers who go on to fill leadership roles in the development and application of statistical methods in health research. Doctoral students take the courses for the MS program plus at least one additional semester of advanced courses in statistical theory and methods, a minor sequence in biomedical science, and a choice of advanced electives. Students must pass both written and oral qualifying examinations, complete an advanced data analysis project, write and defend a doctoral dissertation.

What are some key differences/similarities between the PhD and MS degree?

  • Both the PhD and MS programs train students…
    • in the theory of biostatistics
    • in the application of statistical methods
  • The PhD program trains students to become independent researchers by developing new methods to address statistical problems arising from biomedical research.
  • The PhD involves five semesters of coursework, successful completion of two exams, and research leading to a doctoral dissertation. Typically this takes four to five years.
  • The MS degree requires four semesters of coursework, successful completion of an exam, and an MS thesis. Typically this takes two years of study.
  • At Penn the course sequence for the two degrees is similar

Admission to the Program

For further details please visit the admission website: Bio Admissions.

Federally funded training grants are available for US citizens and permanent residents. Research and teaching assistantships are available for both US and international students. Each year, we typically invite 15- 20 exceptional applicants to visit the Penn campus at our expense in order to learn more about our training programs, to meet current students, and to interview with the faculty

What background do I need for admission?

  • At least one year of calculus (including multivariable methods), one semester of linear algebra, and working knowledge of a programming language.
  • Previous experience with data analysis and/or statistical packages is desirable but not required. • Advanced courses in mathematics are helpful, particularly for PhD students.
  • Our current students have undergraduate degrees in various areas including: Mathematics, Statistics, Systems Engineering, Computer Science, Psychology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Economics
  • GRE scores not more than five years old and the TOEFL if English is not your native language.