Graduate Degrees: Ph.D., M.A./Ph.D., M.A.

Apply for Admission: December 1, 2020

Required Tests: GRE Required: Yes (General Test)


Many issues in the health, medical, and biological sciences are addressed by collecting and exploring relevant data. The development and application of techniques to better understand such data is the fundamental concern of the Group in Biostatistics. The program offers training in theory of statistics and biostatistics, the computer implementation of analytic methods, and opportunities to use this knowledge in areas of biological/medical research. The curriculum is taught principally by members of the Division of Biostatistics (School of Public Health) and the Department of Statistics (College of Letters & Science) and provides a wide range of ideas and approaches to the analysis of data.

Established in 1955, the Graduate Group in Biostatistics curriculum offers instruction in statistical theory and computing, as well as opportunities to rigorously apply this knowledge in biological and medical research. The degree programs offered (listed below) are appropriate for students who have either a strong mathematical and statistical background with a focus in the biomedical sciences, or degrees in the biological sciences with a focus in mathematics and statistics. (The MA degree can be obtained under Plan I or Plan II. The PhD dissertation is administered according to Plan B.)

Master of Arts (MA)

The Masters of Arts Degree in Biostatistics is completed in 4 semesters. Candidates for this degree are expected to earn 48 units with courses in biostatistics, statistics, public health, and biology. The 12-unit minimum enrollment requirement per semester may be met with independent research or seminar courses. Students must enroll for all four semesters of the program. Students pursuing the MA degree in Biostatistics will be expected, upon completion of the program, to be well-versed in the following areas:  

• Fundamental statistical methods, including statistical estimation, hypothesis testing, regression analysis, analysis of variance, and longitudinal data. 
• Algorithms and computer applications. 
• Analysis of multivariate data—categorical and continuous—with particular emphasis on epidemiology.
• Interpretation of survival analysis data and issues, including knowledge of life table methodology, competing causes of death, medical follow-up studies, parametric models, and nonparametric methods. 
• Computational biology methods including gene mapping, microarray data analysis, and other topics in genomics.  
• Methods of analysis using vital and health statistics, census data, rates, and adjusted rates.

Master of Arts/Doctor of Philosophy (MA/PhD)

The Biostatistics MA/PhD degree track was recently created for those students who ultimately want to earn the Biostatistics PhD but do not already hold a master's degree (only in rare circumstances are applicants coming from the baccalaureate program admitted straight into the PhD program).  After completion of the MA portion of the degree program, it is straightforward admission to the PhD degree track. This does not prolong the time to the doctorate since the coursework completed in the first two years is the same for the Biostatistics MA and PhD degrees.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

All Biostatistics PhD students are required to hold a master's degree in Biostatistics or a related field. The PhD degree requires 4-6 semesters of course work in biostatistics, statistics, and at least one other subject area (e.g., biology, environmental health, epidemiology). There are no unit or course requirements for the PhD, so a program of courses appropriate to a student's background and interests may be developed. Courses cover traditional topics as well as recent advances in biostatistics and in statistics. Those completing the PhD will have acquired a deep knowledge and understanding of these subject areas. Since graduates with doctorates often assume academic careers in research and teaching, a high degree of mastery in research design, theory, methodology, and execution is expected as well as the ability to communicate and present research findings and area of expertise in a clear, understandable manner.

Biostatistics doctoral graduates have gone on to teaching careers at colleges and universities, both here in the US and internationally. Others have pursued careers as biostatisticians in the pharmaceutical/biotech industries, health care delivery organizations, medical schools, and schools of public health across the US and abroad. The demand for biostatisticians with advanced training is high, particularly for those seeking teaching and research careers.

Biostatistics Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) with Designated Emphasis (DE)

Students enrolled in the UC Berkeley Biostatistics doctoral (PhD) program are eligible to apply for interdisciplinary study in a Designated Emphasis (DE), which we refer to as the Associated Programs. At UC Berkeley, acquiring a DE is like earning a "minor" with a PhD degree. Applications for Designated Emphasis are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year. However, students must apply prior to taking the qualifying exam and are strongly encouraged to begin the application process early in the third semester of graduate study. To be accepted to a Designated Emphasis, you must be a PhD candidate in one of the Associated Programs (e.g., Biostatistics). The two DE programs offered in biostatistics are:

The goal of the DE-CGB program is to train a new generation of computational biology researchers by enhancing and facilitating interactions between faculty, postdoctoral scholars and students in the Associated Programs through a flexible and integrated research and teaching environment which transcends traditional departmental boundaries. Upon successful completion of all requirements and dissertation, your transcript and diploma will read, "PhD in Biostatistics with a Designated Emphasis in Computational & Genomic Biology."

The DE in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) promises to bring a new paradigm to interdisciplinary research and education. The team-oriented approach provides our students with a solid foundation in the different facets of genomic research and ensuing competitive edge for the most desirable jobs in academia and industry, which increasingly require interdisciplinary training by combining high-performance computing, mathematical modeling, scientific and engineering theory, and analysis of large scale databases of observations. Upon successful completion of all requirements and dissertation, your transcript and diploma will read, "PhD in Biostatistics with a Designated Emphasis in Computational Science and Engineering." 

Source: Berkeley Academic Guide

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