Jump to content
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt

Fall 2020 Biostatistics PhD profile evaluation


Recommended Posts

Hi everyone. I am an international female student with a non-traditional path to Biostatistics. I am applying to Biostatistics PhD programs for the Fall 2020 cycle and would really appreciate an evaluation of my profile

Undergrad school: A well ranked school from India

Undergrad Major: Dentistry (yup! Non-traditional)

Graduate School: Top 10 Statistics school on USNWR

Master Major: MPH with Biostatistics concentration

Undergrad GPA: 3.8/4.0

Grad GPA: 3.8/4.0

Student Type: International 

Math courses: None in undergrad. Grad school: Statistical Methods in Public Health I (B), II(A), III(A), IV(A), Spatial Analysis (A), Health Economics (A), Quantitative Risk Assessment(A), Longitudinal Data Analysis (A)

GRE general:  Q 163, V 165, AWA 4.5

GRE Math: expected in a few weeks

Work experience: 6 years as a scientist and bio-statistician at an academic research institute where I did my MPH.

Research: 8 published papers in decent impact factor mental health journals (one first author, two second author). All of these papers were applied and not pure stats papers.  

Master's thesis on developing a risk score for identifying patients at risk of delayed cancer care.

Skills: Proficient in Stata and R. Working knowledge of Python, Latex, markdown.

Interests: Non-parametric and Bayesian statistics, multilevel modelling, psychometrics.

LOR: Three very strong letters from my work supervisor and PI’s who I have worked with on the papers published.  

Targets: All Biostats

Washington, Berkeley, Hopkins, UCLA, UC San Diego, Stanford, Columbia  

Concerns: I am an international student with a non-Math/Stat major. I am also a little concerned about the Quant GRE score but with my work schedule I cannot really re-take it before the admission deadline. I also have not been in school for the past 5 years although have taken some online for-credit courses while working. I know a lot of the schools on this list are reach schools and wondering how competitive I would be as a candidate? I am mostly looking at schools on the West Coast and would welcome any suggestions for those some additional schools that you think would be a good match for me.   


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you considered applying to epidemiology PhD programs instead? They're similar to biostatistics, but less math intensive. They also value public health and biology experience a lot more that biostat programs do. I'm not super familiar with epidemiology admissions, but your background seems like a good fit for that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think omicron is spot on with their recommendation. Given your math background and clear passion for health and medical areas, I think epidemiology might be a more suitable and interesting choice for you. I may be wrong, but I think that your overall background is also better suited for that path, unless you have taken (at a minimum) calculus (through multivariable) and linear algebra.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for your input @omicrontrabb . To answer some of your questions 

1. Since I do not have an undergrad in Math, I have not formally taken the Calculus series and Linear Algebra. My math background is essentially self taught or through the Master's degree (the classes took did need calculus but were definitely more application than proof based).

2. During my masters I started with an PhD level Epi track but I did not find myself drawn to it.

Biostatistics I was instantly hooked on to and really enjoy. I have made sure this is what I want to pursue by working for 5 years and also honing my programming skills. My current publications, while applied, do use complicated and recently developed statistical methods such that I had to essentially code some of it in R myself (one of my LOR writers is going to be addressing this). What I have come to realize is I would like to be able to develop these models and approaches myself and not simply apply them. But to be able to do that I think I need a structured, proof-based academic training in biostatistics. That is one of my primary motivations for going back to school. I do explain this in my SOP and I am sorry I did not convey it here very well. I do not want to do an Epi PhD since I would be doing it for the sake of a PhD rather than genuine passion. I honestly did consider it since it would be an easier admit but I did not find the kind of coursework I am interested in in any of the programs. 

As an aside, I also did start taking the Calculus series for credit to formally meet the pre-requisites requirement and am excelling in Calculus I but I won't have the grades before the deadline. 

Do you think I am not a sufficiently strong candidate for a Biostats PhD program with what I have right now? Am I misunderstanding what an Epi PhD might be? I think I am open to everybody rejecting me at this point. But I welcome any opinion on if there might be schools out there that I have missed and that might be good matches for me? Or just general tips on what might help me. Sorry if I rambled on, this is my first post and I am getting really nervous with the submission deadlines coming up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're not going to get into any biostat PhD program without the math pre-requisites.  The programs you chose are also among the most competitive in the country. As an international student where competition is very high, even if you took through linear algebra and got As, and raised your GRE Q by a few points, these schools would be reaches.  The only people who might be able to not have these classes on their transcripts are people who have taken more advanced math like real analysis.  You need to get these classes on your transcript, improve your GRE and apply to some lower ranked schools next year. 

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.