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Frequently Asked Questions

About our Biostatistics Programs

​​Thank you for your interest in our Biostatistics programs. We hope the links and FAQs below will help answer your questions. If not, please contact us directly for answers.

Questions about the programs
What is the difference between the MS in Biostatistics and the MPH in Applied Biostatistics?

The MPH in Applied Biostatistics (MPH/AB) targets students interested in a broader exposure to areas of public health, with specialization in biostatistics and analysis. The concentration is flexible and requires 15-24 credits of biostatistics courses, but does not require the Statistical Theory sequence BIOS 6631 and BIOS 6632. Students pursuing the MPH in Applied Biostatistics are strongly encouraged to take the more advanced Biostatistical Methods sequence BIOS 6611 and BIOS 6612, which requires 2 semesters of calculus, a previous introductory statistics course, and exposure to some statistical software e.g., R, SAS, etc. instead of the introductory MPH Applied Biostatistics sequence BIOS 6601 and BIOS 6602. The MPH in Applied Biostatistics does not prepare students for PhD work in Biostatistics.

The MS in Biostatistics program targets students interested in working as biostatisticians, or in pursing a PhD in Biostatistics. The MS requires 3 semesters of recent calculus (e.g., Calculus I-III offered from a math or engineering department), and linear algebra with a minimum grade of B+ or higher, an introductory statistics or biostatistics course, and exposure to some statistical software (e.g., R, SAS).  Students interested in a less mathematical program with broader exposure to Public Health should consider the MPH in Applied Biostatistics​. The MS program includes 25 credits of biostatistics coursework including the Statistical Theory sequence BIOS 6631 and BIOS 6632, as well as a thesis or research paper. All MS coursework is required for the PhD in Biostatistics.

Should I apply to the MS or PhD program?

Please apply to the degree you want to obtain. Highly qualified undergraduate students with strong backgrounds in math and statistics and excellent GPA/GRE will be considered for admission directly into the PhD program. If we are not able to accept you into the PhD we will consider you for the MS program. If you enroll in the MS, based on excellent performance in the first year you may be offered admission to the PhD. Since all MS coursework is required for the PhD program this path does not affect the coursework or length of completion time for the PhD in Biostatistics.

How large are the programs?

As of September 1, 2019, we had 15 continuing and 7 new PhD students; 21 continuing and 7 new MS students; and 14 continuing and 8 new MPH/AB students. Typical first-year biostatistics class sizes are 15-20 for the Statistical Theory sequence and 25-30 for the Biostatistical Methods sequence (which is also taken by PhD students in Epidemiology, Health Services Research, Pharmaceutical Outcomes, and qualified MPH/AB students).

How long do the programs typically take to complete?

For full time students in the MS in Biostatistics and the MPH in Applied Biostatistics, expect the program to take 2 years to complete. Students pursuing the PhD in Biostatistics can expect the program to take 3 to 4 years beyond the MS, depending on thesis and dissertation work. Please note that the MPH in Applied Biostatistics does not prepare students for PhD work in Biostatistics.

Do the programs accept part-time students?

In some cases, yes. For the MS in Biostatistics, we do not give weekend, evening or online courses. Courses commonly taken during the same semester are scheduled in blocks to minimize travel time. For the MPH in Applied Biostatistics, the core courses are sometimes offered online, though BIOS 6611 and BIOS 6612 (required for the MS and strongly recommended for the MPH) are not available online.

Are the programs mostly theoretical or mostly applied?

The MS and PhD Biostatistics programs are balanced between theory and application. For the MS program, the most mathematical courses are the Statistical Theory sequence BIOS 6631 and BIOS 6632. Most other courses are more applied and involve data analysis in a variety of areas (outlined below in the degree plans). The PhD program includes a further year-long sequence in statistical theory as well as several more electives. Students in both programs have many opportunities to participate in real consulting and collaborative research on our very active health sciences campus, as well as to work with faculty on thesis and dissertation research.

The MPH in Applied Biostatistics is more applied, does not require the Statistical Theory sequence BIOS 6631 and BIOS 6632, and is balanced between general public health courses and biostatistics courses.

Does the MS program have any specialized degrees or minors?

Yes, there is an MS Minor in Data Science Analytics and MS Minor in Statistical Genomics and Genetics available now. There is a lot of activity in this area in the department with several faculty members, as well as a Working Group. In addition, the Anschutz Medical Campus has a new Center and Division for Biomedical Informatics and Personalized Medicine. The minor involves several electives and a thesis or research paper in this area.

Questions about the application process
Do I need to take the GRE?

The GRE or equivalent (MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, etc.) is required for admission. Exceptions may be made for applicants with a previous graduate degree in Statistics, Biostatistics, or Applied Math from a U.S. university, on a case-by-case basis.

I am an international student. Do I need to take the TOEFL?

International students (for whom English isn't their first language) are also required to submit their official TOEFL scores in order to be considered for admission. The minimum TOEFL requirements for the Graduate School are: 550 (paper test), 213 (computer test), or 80 (internet test). However, a score of 570 (paper test), 230 (computer test), or 89 (internet test) or higher is preferred.

What are the expected GPA and GRE scores?

For both MS and PhD, applications are reviewed holistically, with consideration placed on: GPA, background in math, GRE scores, work experience, reference letters, and essays. Expected applicant GPA is at least 3.3 on a 4.0 scale, with A's in most math classes. GRE quantitative scores are expected to be near or above the 70th percentile for MS applicants, and near or above the 80th percentile for PhD applicants. Verbal and analytic writing scores are also considered. Applications with numbers below these may be considered on a case-by-case basis, if other aspects of the application are strong. All components of the application are considered in a holistic review.

Applicants to the MPH in Applied Biostatistics program are expected to have a GPA of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, with GRE scores near or above the 50th percentile.

What courses are required for admission to the MS and PhD programs?

The MS is balanced between theory and application with a strong mathematical component requiring at least 3 semesters of recent calculus, linear algebra, introductory statistics or biostatistics course, and previous exposure to statistical software, e.g., R, SAS, etc. More math is helpful. Students whose calculus is a few years old, or whose grades weren’t good, may be required to retake one or more semesters of calculus. The Statistical Theory sequence BIOS 6631/32 requires a good working knowledge of calculus that is used daily, and good current math and calculus is a major predictor of success. A previous introductory statistics or biostatistics course is also required.

How much is tuition?

Tuition costs are given in the links below. Students who are residents of the following states (and not on an international student visa) are eligible for Colorado resident tuition their first year due to our Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) membership: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington state, and Wyoming. Students from other states or countries (and not on an international student visa) are generally eligible for resident tuition rates after the first year. Students including international students may in some cases be offered resident tuition rates in the first year, as a part of funding offers. Some types of Research Assistantships include tuition paid by the program.

Is funding available?

We offer a number of Research Assistant (RA) and Teaching Assistant (TA) positions, which are allocated competitively based on achievement and fit. RA positions pay a stipend depending on academic level plus tuition and health insurance for 20 hours/week of work, and are usually but not always for students beyond their first year. TA positions pay an hourly rate for amounts of work depending on qualifications and availability and may include a reduction in tuition to resident rates.

The past several years all PhD students were funded with RA positions (which may include some teaching assistant work), and some MS students are funded on entry with RA or TA positions. All MS students were funded by research positions by the end of their first summer. Many MPH/AB students obtain TA or research positions after their first year. All of our PhD and MS students and many MPH/AB students have opportunities to work directly with faculty in our department and around campus doing research and consulting.

Is there an opportunity to visit the campus and meet with faculty and current students?

We have a Visit Day in late October or early November each year, where we go through the programs in detail and invite some faculty and students to talk about their work and experiences. This is an excellent introduction to the programs, if you are able to attend. Check the CSPH website for the current schedule. If you can’t make it that day or would like to visit another time please contact us, we can often accommodate visits at other times though not as many faculty and students may be available.

When is the application date? Do you admit students in January?

The application deadline is January 15 (MPH) or December 1(MS/PhD) for admission the next August, though in some cases later applications may be considered. The application and admission requirements are found in the links below. If you miss the application deadline but are interested in starting in August please contact us. We do not typically accept students in January because the main courses are year-long sequences, though spring admission may be considered in special circumstances.​

Colorado School of Public Health

13001 E. 17th Place​
Mail Stop B119
Aurora, CO 80045


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