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Biostatistics Department Rankings

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So, I've been thinking it would be helpful to all of us applying to Biostatistics programs to discuss the rankings, as there seems to be a bit of discrepancy once you begin to get out of the top 6 or 7.

Through reading these forums over the past year, as well as looking at department webpages, I think few would argue that ranked 1-3 are some variation of: Hopkins, Washington, and Harvard

Then, I think 4-7 are typically understood to be some order of: UNC, Michigan, Minnesota, and Berkeley, with Berkeley probably being 6 or 7.

However, after this, from what I understand, the rankings become much more unclear. There are names thrown around here more often than others (e.g. Brown, Columbia, Emory), but outside of the initial top 7, there are quite a few other schools with PhD programs. Here is a list from what I can remember, of all the schools I have looked at online:

- Yale

- Brown

- Columbia

- Emory


- Pitt

- Boston

- Penn

- Iowa

- Wisconsin

- Indiana - Purdue

- Florida

- Florida State

- Colorado

- Med. University of South Carolina

- Southern Cal

- UMass

- Buffalo

- Vanderbilt

- Arizona

- UC Davis

- LSU - New Orleans

- U. of Illinois Chicago

- Tulane

So, my question is, are any of these schools inherently better than the others, or is the margin of error so close that the rankings don't matter that much? Would going to a school like Vanderbilt drastically affect the career of someone, than if they went to Brown (this is just an example)?

This is something I've been wondering about as I'm in the process of applying to 13 of these programs (4 from the top 7 and the 9 from the large 3rd group of schools listed), and it will affect my decision making when admission decisions start being made.

Also, thanks ahead of time Cyberwulf, as I know you're the one here that knows more about this than most everyone else.

Edited by Noco7
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Out of curiosity, which school was it that you heard back from and when did you send your applications in? I applied to both Washington and Minnesota, both of which were due yesterday. However, I applied relatively late, so I'm not expecting to hear anything until January.... The other schools I'm applying to include: Michigan, UNC, Yale, Brown, Emory, Boston, Pitt, Vanderbilt, Florida State, MUSC, and Iowa.... Of course my top pick above all else would be UW, but I'm not holding my breathe on that one. UNC and Minnesota are tied for my second choice, but again, I think both are 'iffy' at best for me, as I'm coming from Biology degree with a relatively weak math background (as in I'm literally finishing calc 2 and linear right now, and taking calc 3 in the spring). Anyways, of the schools out of the top 7, I'd have to say Emory and Brown are my top picks, so I'm really hoping for the best.

Also, I'm curious what your GRE scores and GPA is?

Edited by Noco7
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I think Shostakovich has the rankings more or less right.

I see four tiers of deparments, with the general characteristics described below:

Tier 1: Harvard, Hopkins, UW

- Most faculty members are renowned researchers

- Good graduates are competitive for faculty positions at Tier 1-3 departments.

Tier 2: Michigan, Minnesota, UNC

- Some faculty members are renowned researchers

- Very good/excellent graduates are competitive for faculty positions at Tier 1-3 departments.

Tier 3: Berkeley, Wisconsin, Columbia, UCLA, Penn, Brown, Emory

- A few faculty members are renowned researchers

- Outstanding graduates are competitive for faculty positions at Tier 2-3 departments.

Tier 4: Everywhere else

- No/very few faculty members are renowned researchers.

- Graduates unlikely to be seriously considered for faculty positions at Tier 1-3 departments, excellent students may be competitive for faculty positions at other Tier 4 departments.

Of course, this is a very rough classification, and ignores the relative strengths/weaknesses of departments in various sub-areas. It also doesn't take into account the student experience at each place -- size/strength of student cohort, course/exam requirements, average time to graduation, availability of supervisors, funding package, etc. But I think it's a helpful starting point.

Edited by cyberwulf
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