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Under the current circumstances, do you expect the 2021 BIOSTAT admission + funding to be much harder to get?


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I'm an international student with Biostatistics MS from the US who applied for a dozen PhD programs for Biostatistics.

 

How do you expect the 2021 admission and funding situation to be like? Is it going to be much tougher to get funding now that a lot of people are going back to school with limited funding affected by COVID? Or do you expect otherwise?

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I've been worrying about this too. From the people I've asked it seems that cohorts might be slightly smaller, but not by a lot as biostatistics funding is less dependent on funding from the parent school/TA responsibilities and is more from grants.

In terms of competition being higher, I don't think it should be too bad for PhD. The reason MBAs get more competitive is because the opportunity cost of 1/2 years of graduate school is small in a recession and many people always were planning to get an MBA anyway. However, a PhD is a 5 year commitment and I don't think people who planned to be in industry want to spend that long in school.  Also getting phd-admission level recs is something one has to plan very far ahead for.  People who just decide to get a PhD for the first time in a long time likely won't have the strongest applications. The only significant effect would come from people who were planning to take a gap year in industry before going into a PhD and are now deciding to apply because the job market is so bad (and the job market isn't even that bad for people with the skills to apply to stat/biostat phd programs). But at the same time some people might also wait for the admissions/funding situation to normalize. So overall I think it's a wash.

 

Edited by trynagetby
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I see biostat admissions getting more competitive, not because incoming classes are getting smaller (though in some places they may be, somewhat) but because of increased interest in the field of biostatistics due to COVID. Nationally, applications to schools of public health are up about 20%, and while a good chunk of that is in other fields (hello, epidemiology!) there's definitely a spillover effect into biostat. Anecdotally, we're seeing a higher proportion of applications from people whose profile can be summed up as "I'm a smart person who didn't intend to go into biostat but gee that sounds pretty cool so let's give it a shot".

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Today has seen a huge wave of rejections which gets me into anxiety as well... The bar for biostats PhD is steadily increasing for sure, with Master programs' sizes getting larger at all schools and more students considering PhD because of increasing bar in the industry. COVID probably pushed more graduating Master students to apply directly... BTW just for last year, BU admitted many Harvard Masters which also pushed the bar higher for the remaining space.

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