Jump to content

Columbia vs UNC Biostatistics MS to eventually pursue a PhD

Recommended Posts

I've been accepted into Columbia and UNC's Biostatistics MS programs and I'm having trouble deciding between the two!


I'm leaning towards Columbia but it worries me that their Stats department is apparently not well regarded.

Does this reputation extend to their Biostats department,  even though their department is still in the top 10?


I know that UNC is a better program overall and has more renowned professors, but if my end goal is to pursue a PhD, does it matter where I get my MS?


Cost is not a strong factor because I consider living in NYC to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I am also more interested in eventually working in industry if that helps. (I've heard that Columbia has more ties in industry and UNC is more theoretical with difficult quals)


Thanks so much for any replies!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Columbia's stats program has a great reputation, it's their master's in Statistics that is generally portrayed as not a very good program here. Biostat is completely different department so that doesn't apply at all. UNC has a better program, but Columbia's still a top 10ish biostat department. If you really want to get a PhD, you should look into whether you will have research opportunities at the two schools, but if you do well you should be able to be successful at both. I am an advocate for choosing a place where you will be personally happy - since Columbia has a good department, if you want to live in NYC and money isn't a huge issue, go. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that more rigorous coursework would likely be seen as a positive in PhD applications, so you might want to consider that, if UNC’s reputation for rigorous coursework also applies to its masters program, which I don’t know.

You could also ask the departments how they feel about their own masters students applying to their own PhD programs. I think that some give them especially positive consideration. At the Columbia PhD interview, there was at least one current Columbia masters student, and I believe there were multiple.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@rosebud123 That's true, I was just wondering if Columbia was rigorous enough since it's still a top 10 program. Thanks for the advice!

And I actually did ask them, and Columbia tends to accept at least 1 or 2 of their master's students, although you still have to apply externally. With UNC, the process is internal and coordinated with your masters' advisor and the department heads, though I don't know what the success rate is.

@bayessays I will be doing the theory and methods track, thanks!

@kacho I heard back on March 8th, so pretty recently. Thanks, and good luck to you too!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Oh my god! You have a very similar decision problem as I do.. except it is between Columbia MS and Minnesota MS for me.  I'm also leaning towards Columbia and have my concerns regarding the same things--Columbia not having an internal streamline for phd while UMN does, its notorious MS stat program, etc... Are you going to the admitted students' visit day for Columbia? I can't and it's a shame bc Columbia has such limited info on their website. I don't even know their student body size and all the relevant info to make my decision. Just gonna have to ask them via email...

Edited by coconuts2
Link to comment
Share on other sites



I'm not going to the admitted student's visit day either :( But I decided to go to Columbia because it seems the master's programs all teach similar things, and I prefer to be in NY! UNC and Columbia seem to differ more in the higher up theoretical PhD courses.

Their T&M track is about 50, and some more for their other two tracks. I can dm you more info!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.