SPH - Biostatistics Home Image Rotator

It’s more than just numbers.

Biostatistics is an exciting field where mathematics, computer science, and computational biology are applied to biological problems, public health and medicine. Biostatisticians play a key role in the design, conduct and analysis of research studies and develop new methods to address emerging problems.

As a career, statisticians placed #3 in a recent ranking of the best occupations in the US, conducted by and the profession was featured in a recent New York Times article For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics .

The Biostatistics curriculum includes courses in applied and theoretical statistics, statistical computing, bioinformatics, statistical genetics, clinical trials and operations research. There is ample opportunity for experience in consulting and collaborative research. Alumni of the Biostatistics Program are prominent in academia, industry and government.

The faculty in Biostatistics offer a curriculum leading to MS and PhD degrees in biostatistics. Students who are interested in using statistics in applied settings may consider applying for admission under the MPH program in Biostatistics.

Check this out!
This is Statistics is introducing high-school students and
college undergraduates to careers in statistics...


Why UTHealth School of Public Health?

Biostatistics Student Spotlight

Meet the winner of the UTHealth Sschool of Public Health Research Day poster presentation.

Click here to read more


Biostatistics Degree Programs

The Biostatistics Department of the UTHealth School of Public Health (SPH) offers graduate studies leading to the Master of Science (MS) and Master of Public Health (MPH) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees.

Biostatistics is a discipline encompassing the study and development of statistical, mathematical, and computer methods applied to the biological and health sciences. Biostatisticians play a key role in the design, conduct and analysis of research studies of health and disease. There is ample opportunity for experience in consulting and collaborative research. Alumni of the Biostatistics program are prominent in academia, industry and government.

Minors for all degree programs can be selected from the Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Epidemiology and Disease Control and/or Management, Policy and Community Health Departments. In addition to courses at UTHealth SPH, a wide variety of courses are available through cross registration with other schools and institutions in the Texas Medical Center as well as Rice University and the University of Houston.

To view more information regarding Admissions into the Department of Biostatistics, click here.

To see more information regarding the Department of Biostatistics, click on the BIOST Portfolio.

Master of Science (MS)

The MS program is 36 hours, including 6 hours max of thesis (and practicum), which generally takes two years to complete. The MS program includes a sequence of courses in basic statistical theory and methods, research design and data analysis. All MS students take a minor in a field of application other than biostatistics.

Admission Requirements

  • Undergraduate degree in statistics, mathematics, computer science, or one of the physical, biological, or social sciences
  • At least a B average (on a 4.0 system) in prior academic work
  • Requires calculus and linear algebra
  • Satisfactory score on Graduate Records Exam (GRE)

MS Degree Planner (MS Word)

Tutorials for Math and Statistics Resource

MS Competencies

Master of Public Health (MPH)

The MPH in biostatistics is a basic professional degree in public health with concentration in biostatistics. The majority of full-time students take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete the degree, with 45 hours including 6 hours of thesis and practicum combined. Requirements of the MPH degree are: completion of coursework; a planned, supervised and evaluated practice experience; and a culminating experience demonstrating a substantial knowledge of public health.

Admission Requirements

  • Should have strong interest in public health applications and in quantitative methods
  • Satisfactory score on GRE

MPH Degree Planner (MS Word)

MPH Competencies

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD program requires at least two additional years beyond the master level program. All UTHealth SPH PhD students must complete a minimum of 48 credits, including 9 hours of dissertation and practicum . The PhD program emphasizes advanced statistical theory and application, statistical consulting, and independent research. All PhD students are required to choose one minor and one area of breadth in fields of application other than biostatistics.

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in mathematics or statistics or MS degree in the theory and applications of biostatistics, mathematics, statistics or equivalent is required
  • Requires calculus and linear algebra
  • Satisfactory score on GRE

Guidelines for Doctoral Qualifying Exam

Guidelines for the new doctoral exam, as approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

  1. All doctoral students entering in August 2010 or after will follow this new policy and take the new preliminary exam, oral defense and dissertation defense.  The Department of Biostatistics preliminary exam will include both take-home and in-class portions. The take-home portion will typically focus on material covered in PH 1820, PH1821, PH1830 and PH1831 and is a two-day exam. The in-class exam will focus on material covered in PH1910, PH1911, PH 1915 and PH1951, is a four-hour exam and students are allowed to bring text books and lecture notes pertinent to the recommended courses listed above. All doctoral students entering before August 2010 can choose either the new system or the old system. If you choose the new system, all rules on the new system should be followed. If you choose the old system, you will take the qualifying exam after completing 30 credit hours and demonstrating that you fulfill the requirements of the minor and the breadth. However, if your qualifying exam takes place after January 2011, your biostatistics portion will be the same format as the preliminary exam according to the new system. January 2011 will be the last time the department will give the old format of qualifying exam for biostatistics students.
  2. Those under the old exam system are expected to take biostatistics courses suggested by your advisory committee to meet the requirements of the degree program, regardless of which biostatistics exam you will take. Those under the new exam system are still expected to take additional biostatistics courses (beyond those recommended above) as well as the minor and breadth courses after the preliminary exam as you develop your proposal under the supervision of your dissertation committee.
  3. The biostatistics preliminary exam will be given once a year in August.
  4. It is the School’s policy that a student who failed twice on preliminary exam (new system) or qualifying exam (old system) can not stay in the doctoral program.

Addendum to PhD Students-Teaching Requirements

Doctoral students are required to obtain some teaching experience on biostatistics courses for majors for at least one semester. A typical example is to serve as a teaching assistant for a high level course in biostatistics after they complete the preliminary exam.

Requirements for Thesis/Dissertation

The dissertation should be in a paper format and is supposed to include two submitted papers. A dissertation proposal defense is required before the student advances to doctoral candidacy. For submitted papers, only the dissertation chair needs to verify. For further information about  Dissertation and Thesis Proposal.

PhD Degree Planner (MS Word)

Tutorials for Math and Statistics Resource

PhD Competencies

Minor in Biostatistics

The division also offers a minor course of study for MS, DrPH and PhD students majoring in other public health disciplines. Courses for the minor of a MS student, include at least PH 1700 (Intermediate Biostatistics) and two biostatistics courses above PH1700. Courses for the minor of a PhD or DrPH student, include at least PH 1700 (Intermediate Biostatistics) and three biostatistics courses above PH1700. PH 1820 (Applied Statistical Analysis I) is strongly recommended for the minor for all degree program.

Tutorials for Math and Statistics Resource

Opportunities Abound

Career opportunities abound in the field of biostatistics throughout academia, industry and government. Examples include the pharmaceutical industry, the chemical industry, medical research centers, schools of public health, medical schools and government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, state and local health departments, and the World Health Organization

Applying Biostatistics In…

Biomedical Research

Improved medical treatments and devices rely on careful experiments that compare promising new methods with current techniques. Biostatisticians work on clinical trials and other experiments to formulate scientific questions, determine appropriate sampling techniques, coordinate data collection procedures, and carry out statistical analyses.


Statistics has been used in human genetics to create automated methods of labeling possible indicators of genetic abnormalities, such as birth defects and early aging. Genetics also has been used in breeding to produce desirable characteristics in offspring. Using complex statistical models, statisticians aid in formulating sound decisions by sorting out the environmental effects from the genetic.


Epidemiological statisticians work on projects such as calculating cancer incidence rates or the rates of chronic and infectious diseases; monitoring and reporting on disease outbreaks; and monitoring changes in health-related behaviors, such as smoking and physical activity. Fields of practice include pharmacoepidemiology and nutritional, environmental, genetic, and social epidemiology.

Source: American Statistical Association

Faculty members in the Department of Biostatistics have led and contributed to the development of statistical methods for many areas including clinical trial design and analysis, Bayesian statistics, statistical genomics and genetics, statistical learning methodology and applications, stochastic processes, longitudinal and correlated data analysis, and bioinformatics. These methods are applied to a wide range of problems including hypertension, stem cells, cancer, cervical cancer detection using optical spectroscopy, US-Mexico border health issues, environmental health, prevention of HIV, molecular evolution and phylogenetics, vision research, and Parkinson’s disease. In addition, Biostatistics faculty have led and contributed to important public health projects that have made a difference in people s lives.

Biostatistics faculty members conduct research in:

  • Statistical genetics applications of statistical methods to bioinformatics
  • Occupational and environmental exposures in the etiology of adult leukemia
  • Inter-uterine growth through ultrasound measurement
  • Analysis of infant mortality in developing countries
  • Queuing models for emergency medical services
  • Stochastic modeling of movement through the health care system
  • Health effects of air pollution
  • Analysis of health services utilization and health care technology assessment

Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials

ALLHAT mapThe mission of the Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials (CCCT) is to improve public health by providing leadership in designing, conducting, coordinating and reporting large multicenter clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of disease and other medical conditions. Using a collaborative approach involving clinical trials, biostatistics, epidemiology, medicine, health services and health promotion, the CCCT makes important contributions to medical, statistical and clinical trials knowledge.

Current CCCT research areas are:

  • Cardiovascular cell therapy research
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Early treatment of retinopathy of prematurity
  • Antihypertensive and lipid lowering treatment to prevent heart attack
  • Early treatment of acute spinal cord injury

Computing Power

UTHealth School of Public Health operates its own computer facility dedicated to research and education. Networks of servers support UNIX-based systems and Windows-based systems for simulation. A wide variety of state-of-the-art statistical software is available to students and WiFi is also available on campus. Computer Services staff are available to aid students in using the equipment, the various analytical and data management software packages, and the large library of health information research databases.

Dear Incoming Students,

Welcome to the UTHealth School of Public Health Department of Biostatistics! I am delighted that you are joining the terrific group of students in our program.  I encourage you to take full advantage of the academic and social opportunities offered by the department and SPH.  Numerous opportunities for experience in teaching and collaborative research greatly enhance your understanding of biostatistical methods and applications.  Participation in groups such as the SPH Biostatistics Student Association, and department events such as picnics and mixers, will allow you to take a much-needed break from coursework and better get-to-know faculty and fellow students.  I look forward to seeing you become one of the many alumni of the Biostatistics program who are prominent in academia, industry, and government.

I hope you enjoy your time at SPH.  If you have any questions or concerns during your tenure here, please do not hesitate to contact myself or any of the department faculty and staff.

Best Wishes,

Barry R. Davis, M.D., Ph.D.

Guy S. Parcel Chair in Public Health
Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Biostatistics
Director, Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials
(713) 500-9515

Quick Links:

Degree Planners:

Get Involved:

Student Resources

Quick Links:

Academic Calendar

Financial Assistance

UT SPH Scholarships for current students

Job opportunities for current students and alumni. Sign up for Job-Ops

Degree Planners:

MPH Degree Planner

MS Degree Planner

PhD Degree Planner

Preparing to Graduate


General Forms

MPH Forms

MS Forms

PhD Forms

For doctoral students entering Fall 2011 and after:
For doctoral students entering PRIOR to Fall 2011

Get Involved:

Human Genetics Student Society

International Student Organization

Public Health Student of African Descent

Student Association

Student Epidemic Intelligence Society

Student InterCouncil

Student Society for Global Health

The Board


Barry R. Davis, M.D., Ph.D.

Guy S. Parcel Chair in Public Health
Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Biostatistics
Director, Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials
(713) 500-9515

Marice Barahona

Administrative Manager
(713) 500-9440


Dejian Lai, PhD

Professor of Biostatistics
Faculty Admissions Representative
(713) 500-9270

Stacie Willis

Coordinator of Admissions and Alumni Affairs
(713) 500-9521