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Worried about Applying for Biostats

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Hi all!

I'm new to this forum so apologies if I'm asking an easy question or one that pops up often in this feed. Please redirect me if that is the case.

I am currently a junior,  Actuarial Science major with a Comp. Sci Minor at a relatively small, private Midwestern school (North Central College in IL for those who may have heard of it). I went through my Undergrad not really knowing what I wanted to do and did not really make the most of my schooling.

I'm going to be a Senior next year and have taken all of the Calculus sequence, Java, Databases (SQL and the sort), Probability/Statistics and a ton of Econ, Finance and some Accounting Classes here and there.

Unfortunately, due to a hospitalization the Winter Trimester of this past junior year, my GPA has plummeted to a 3.529 (cumulative)/3.665 (major)  since I was forced to make up all of the work by teaching myself my courses and turning in the work once I returned. Unfortunately, one of those courses was Probability and Statistics which I received a C in, since I had to miss most of the work required of the class.

I was originally thinking of just applying to Actuarial roles for once I graduated but after second thought I have really liked the idea of applying to do either a master's or PhD program for Biostatistics (preferably at a school like UChicago since it's close to home).

With no real research/relevant experience and my poor GPA (and statistics grade) I'm worried that I am not at all competitive. I have not yet taken the GRE so I plan to study hard for that. I do have an internship with a large Healthcare Insurance Firm in Chicago this summer and have already taken and passed 2 actuarial exams (in financial mathematics and probability, ironic enough). 

Which classes should I be looking into next year to look more competitive during application season? Is there anything I could work on to improve my application in such short time? Which schools do you think I should apply to or would have a good shot at?


Thanks so much and sorry for this wall of text!



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I wouldn’t worry too much about a lack of research experience. While the number of undergrads with research are growing, it’s still not an expectation except for at the highest ranked places. Receiving a C in an udndergrad prob/stats is alarming, but it sounds as if you have a reasonable excuse. If you made As in your calc sequence, that would be a little reassuring as well. Have you taken linear algebra or real analysis? Linear Algebra is a minimum requirement and I would strongly encourage you to take real analysis as well. An A in RA would go a long way to minimize concern regarding your ability to handle the mathematical rigor. Lasltly, make sure you choose letter of recommendation writers carefully; good LoRs can really help.

As for school, you probably don’t have a shot at the top 3 places, and I’d say 4-10 in the rankings are iffy at best. Looked for ranked schools in the 10-20 range as a sweet spot, but don’t be discouraged by that. Biostats is growing fast and any school with a ranked program will be reputable and provide you with good training. 

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