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Applying to PhD with MS

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Does anyone know what the usual protocol is for enrolling in a PhD program after obtaining an MS at another school (for biostatistics)? Would I have to retake coursework? Take additional coursework? I'm sure it probably depends on the program but I'm just looking to get a general sense. Is this even a common thing to do?

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It differs by field. Some fields (e.g. the humanities) do not allow you to count that many Masters credits towards the PhD degree, so doctoral students in those fields end up having to repeat classes if they already have another advanced degree. However, I have found that statistics is not like that at all, and I imagine biostats is similar. Stats departments do seem to allow previous graduate course credit to transfer to the PhD. HOWEVER, not having to retake the coursework is also contingent upon passing a basic qualifying exam (so if you take the quals before entering the PhD program and fail them, you'll have to repeat the courses).


fwiw, both Rice U. and UFlorida allow up to 30 credits from graduate classes to count towards the 90 credits that are needed to graduate. However, not retaking previous coursework is entirely contingent upon passing the basic qualifying exam. At UF, students who enter with a Masters degree but who either a) fail the basic exam or b ) don't attempt the basic exam at all in the August before they matriculate need to retake all the previous Masters classes (e.g. the graduate intro probability/statistics sequence).

Edited by Applied Math to Stat
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You'll probably have to take some PhD-level courses (e.g. advanced statistical theory) that you don't have an equivalent for, so I would expect to take some new courses in your PhD program.


As for skipping/retaking coursework, that very much depends on the program. For example, just within UW, the statistics and biostatistics departments have nearly identical course requirements but completely different approaches to letting their students place out of master's courses. Stat lets you skip all the first year master's coursework with no hassle just by talking with the grad coordinator, while biostat has numerous formal hurdles listed here. The result is that UW stat PhD students coming in with some grad-level stats courses are jumping right to second year PhD work (which has worked out to be about half of incoming students in the past two cohorts), while I only know of one biostat student with a master's degree who was able to skip any courses (and even then, I think only the first year applied classes).

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