Curriculum | PhD in Biostatistics

4 – 7 years

40 Credits

The first PhD program in Biostatistics to be integrated in an academic medical center and its NCI designated comprehensive cancer center.

What You’ll Learn

Students will acquire powerful modern statistical methods and computational tool as well as being educated in cognate areas of biological and health sciences such as genetics, epidemiology, and biology. They will be trained through collaborative mentored biomedical research projects, interdisciplinary seminars, and seminars on biostatistics topics in biomedical research. The program prepares students for research and teaching careers in academia and for research and technical careers in industry and government.

Degree Requirements

Coursework is completed in the first 2 years of the program. Students complete 9 credits of required courses which provide a solid grounding in advanced statistical theory and methodology. The required courses include an internship in the field of biostatistics.

Students complete 21 credits of electives. Students have flexibility in selecting their electives to tailor their training towards research interests.

Thesis research begins in the 3rd year. The research should constitute a significant original contribution to the field of Biostatistics

View below for more information.


   19 credits of Required Courses

   21 credits of Electives

   Professional Skills Requirement

   Seminar Requirement

   Comprehensive Written Examination

   Preliminary Oral Examination

   Admission to Candidacy

   Thesis Research

   Final Oral Defense

   Department Seminar

Students are required to complete 40 credits in order to graduate. The curriculum includes:

  • Required Courses (9 credits)
  • Elective Courses (21 credits)
  • Cognate Requirement (6 Credits)
    A cognate area will be defined as an area of specialized study within the Ph.D. degree, in a health related field. This gives students an opportunity to gain knowledge and expertise in a biomedical research field other than statistics/biostatistics. Students must take a minimum of 6 credits in that cognate area. Courses in mathematics, statistics, biostatistics, computer science, econometrics, and psychometrics do not qualify as cognate courses. 
  • Bioinformatics Requirement (3 Credits)
    This requirement may be satisfied by completing a Bioinformatics course among the elective courses.
  • Consulting and Data Analysis Requirement (1 Credit)
    Students must acquire experience in the planning of experiments, analyzing data, reporting results and establish a collaborative interaction with investigators. 
  • Internship Requirement (0 Credit)
    This requirement is satisfied by completing an internship related to biostatistics and provides students with practical, hands-on training as a biostatistician.
  • Research Ethics Requirement (0 Credit)
    This requirement is met by completing a course in responsible conduct of research.

This requirement is satisfied by completing an internship related to biostatistics and provides students with practical, hands-on training as a biostatistician.

This requirement is met by completing workshops in writing, presentation, interview skills, statistical report and proposal writing.

All PhD students are required to attend bi-weekly departmental seminar presentations and discussions of special topics and research results in Biostatistics. The seminars are generally held on the 2nd and 4th Friday of every month at 10 am – 11 am.  Speakers may include internal faculty, visiting faculty, visiting research scientists and senior graduate students.

Students who wish to pursue a PhD degree must pass the written Comprehensive Exam after completing the core courses. The Comprehensive Exam consists of 2 categories: Theoretical section and Applied section.

The Theoretical section will be based on the course content of BIST 600: Probability Theory and BIST 605: Advanced Statistical Inference. The Applied section will be based on the course content of BIST 610: Generalized Linear Models.

After successfully passing the written Comprehensive Exam, a student will identify a Thesis advisor and a Thesis research topic. If a mentor is identified who is not a member of the Georgetown faculty, a member of the Georgetown faculty must serve as co-mentor to regularly monitor the candidate’s research and progress toward the degree. The student, followed by a question-answer period covering the special research topic as well as coursework related to the Thesis topic, will give a 30-minute oral presentation.

A student officially advances to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree upon successfully passing the qualifying exams, having identified a Thesis research topic, a Thesis advisor, and a Thesis Committee.

Advancement to candidacy will be granted when it is determined that the student has completed all the requirements for the doctoral degree except the thesis.

The Thesis is based on independent research by the candidate and should constitute a significant original contribution to the field of Biostatistics, involving the development and evaluation of biostatistical methodology (although the methods are motivated by biomedical research problems). The Thesis Committee will consist at a minimum of four (4) members, all of whom must hold the rank of assistant professor or above.

The final stage of graduate training involves an oral presentation of the Thesis. In attendance will be the Thesis Committee, program members, and interested Medical Center personnel.