Biostatistics Degree Programs and Schools

Biostatisticians analyze trends in public health and use that data to improve the delivery of health services. You can study biostatistics as an undergraduate, and you may choose to advance to a graduate program. Read more about typical biostatistics coursework, and learn what job options are open to those with a background in biostatistics. Schools offering Bioinformatics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Biostatisticians analyze the rate of public health problems using data collected through research and clinical trials. Through biostatistics programs, you can learn how to use computer software to analyze, calculate and organize data. Bachelor's, master's, doctorate, and certificate programs exist. Online options may be available.

Degrees Bachelor of Science in Mathematics: Concentration in Pharmaceutical Biostatistics, Master of Science or Master of Public Health in Biostatistics, Ph.D. in Biostatistics
Certificates Certificate in Public Health Genetics, Certificate in Applied Biostatistics
Classes Statistical programming, probability and distribution theory, discrete structures, regression methods, introduction to mathematical statistics, analysis of variance and design experiments, statistical computing, linear regression, biostatistical inference

What Will I Learn in a Biostatistics Degree Program?

At the undergraduate level, biostatistics is offered as an emphasis through the mathematics or statistics department. You will learn statistical theory, programming and epidemiology, which is the study of how diseases are spread and controlled within a population. Biostatistics is a branch of mathematics, so you should have a firm foundation in calculus and algebra before enrolling.

During your junior and senior years, you will probably be introduced to professional aspects of the field, such as pharmaceutical application software. Internships with pharmaceutical companies can build your resume, which may help when looking for employment. Similarly, research can be an important asset if you want to continue your education in graduate school.

Undergraduate degree programs may include a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a concentration in Pharmaceutical Biostatistics or a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering degree program.

What's the Difference Between MPH and M.S.?

Schools typically offer both a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Biostatistics and Master of Science (M.S.) in Biostatistics degree. Both programs include core courses in biostatistics and epidemiology and can be completed in two years. However, an MPH degree is intended for those who wish to work in the public health industry by earning a degree that meets the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) requirements. As a result, MPH students have additional requirements, such as field experience and public health courses. Additionally, MPH degree programs require a final project, whereas M.S. degree programs culminate in a comprehensive exam.

You should always check a program's requirements before applying since schools may differ in their curricula and admission requirements. For instance, some MPH programs are intended for those who are working towards a doctorate degree in the health field. Other programs require applicants to have a background in math, statistics, with courses in multivariable calculus.

The following courses could be required in a master's degree program:

  • Longitudinal models
  • Biostatistical inference
  • Probability and distribution theory
  • Linear regression

What Elective Courses Should I Take?

Technology is constantly advancing, so you may want to take computer science courses in programming languages and database systems. These courses can help you learn how to graph information and write computer programs. If you are interested in the pharmaceutical industry, you should take science courses. Scientific laboratory experience will prepare you for experiment design and laboratory techniques. Since biostatistics aim to improve the public health field, you will likely benefit from health science courses, such as the ethics of research.

Can I Take a Certificate Program?

If you're interested in studying biostatistics through a certificate program, you might have a few options to consider. A Certificate in Public Health Genetics might be available. Eligibility for the certificate program might require a current enrollment in a master's or doctoral degree. Coursework for the certificate may have specific prerequisites. An additional pathway might be an Applied Biostatistics Certificate program. Prerequisites for this program may include a bachelor's degree and some field experience.

Can I Find an Online Program?

You may not be able to find a degree program that is fully online. However, in some cases, individual biostatistics courses are offered with distance learning options. Typically, this is available at the graduate level.

What Schools Offer Biostatistics Degree Programs?

Many four-year universities offer biostatistics degree programs, especially at the graduate level. Students can choose from a variety of doctoral programs from these schools. Here are some of the schools that offer biostatistics degree programs:

  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis)
  • University of Washington (Seattle)
  • The Pennsylvania State University (University Park)
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University (Teaneck, NJ)
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

What Careers Can I Pursue?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, a master's degree is generally required for statistician and research positions. However, education alone may not be sufficient since employers may give preference to applicants with experience in the field. You should look for programs that offer internships and research. As a biostatistics student, you can pursue internships in laboratories, government health departments or hospitals.

Job titles can vary based on your education level. If you have a bachelor's degree, you may be qualified for an entry-level position in the Federal Government. On the other hand, most research and teaching careers require a doctorate degree. Possible career titles include biostatistician, data analyst, statistical consultant, pharmaceutical researcher and statistical programmer.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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