Jump to content

Biostatistics PhD programs

Recommended Posts

I remember the application process from four years ago quite well, and I wrote about it on my blog. 




I can't speak for many schools (n = 1), but I'm glad I chose Brown.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

If gushing is allowed here, I'd like to make the case for Michigan biostatistics. It has friendly people, lots of varied and cutting-edge research, a collaborative atmosphere, and very strong teaching. I entered their MS program as a non-traditional student (non math/stat) and I now have all the theory and applied experience I need to either pursue a PhD in biostat or get a sweet job.


My "unfunded" offer ended up being mostly funded, and the stipend is more than enough for the cost of living in Ann Arbor (in fact, between summer internship earnings and my stipend, my spouse needed exactly $0 in loans to complete a mostly-unfunded master's in another department). It's a small city, but Ann Arbor is walkable, livable, and packed with intellectual people doing cool things. My spouse and I were looking at NYC prior to choosing Ann Arbor, and I especially liked all of the cultural events that NYC has to offer. Then we realized we'd be too poor to ever actually get to attend any of them. Here, we've been to a few ballets, a couple concerts, and we go out to fancy dinners semi-regularly. We live without roommates in a spacious 2-bedroom roughly 10 minutes from campus for $900/month. The quality of life really can’t be beat.


It you're definitely on the PhD track, I can see how getting offered the fast-track master's might seem like a bad deal compared to PhD admits elsewhere. It’s really not. At Michigan the internal MS-to-PhD applicants get dibs on PhD slots, and everyone I knew that applied to the PhD program from my MS cohort got in, except for maybe two or three people who I don't think were PhD material at all (they were accepted elsewhere, though). It also gives you a chance to think more carefully about if you want/need a PhD. If you choose a PhD, you won't be behind since the MS coursework is the same as the first two years of the PhD, and you can take the quals right after MS graduation. (The qualifying exam is harder than in some departments, but it is definitely not designed to weed people out. If they let you in, they’re going to do everything they can to help you make it through the program. Furthermore, there is a good departmental support system to help students prepare adequately. I don’t know anyone who failed twice.) By structuring admissions this way, the department allows you to explore MS-level industry jobs without fear of burning bridges. There is also have a fantastic SPH-wide career center that understands how to prepare you for whatever career path you want. The Michigan MS is well-respected because of its rigor (it’s the first two years of a doctoral program, after all), and there are tons of ways to get involved in applied research so you have some job experience. I ultimately decided on the PhD route, and everyone was more than happy to support my application at Michigan and anywhere else I wanted to apply.


In terms of research, the department has enough variety that you can change specialties if you find your interests changing. If you're interested in survival analysis, statistical genetics, cancer research, computational biology/bioinformatics, missing data methods, machine learning, Bayesian statistics, clinical trials, environmental/spatial statistics, or anything else, we've got a research group (or two or five) that does it.

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

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use