PhD in Biostatistics

Many issues in the health, medical and biological sciences are addressed by collecting and exploring relevant data. The development and application of techniques to better understand such data is a fundamental concern of our program.

This program offers training in the theory of statistics and biostatistics, computer implementation of analytic methods and opportunities to use this knowledge in areas of biological/medical research. The resources of Berkeley Public Health and the UC Berkeley Department of Statistics, together with those of other university departments, offer a broad set of opportunities to satisfy the needs of individual students. Furthermore, the involvement of UCSF faculty from the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology also enriches instructional and research activities.


A PhD degree in Biostatistics requires a program of courses selected from biostatistics, statistics, and at least one other subject area (such as environmental health, epidemiology, or genomics), an oral qualifying examination, and a dissertation. Courses cover traditional topics as well as recent advances in biostatistics and statistics. Those completing the PhD will have acquired a deep knowledge and understanding of the MA subject areas. Since graduates with doctorates often assume academic research and teaching careers, a high degree of mastery in research design, theory, methodology, and execution is expected, as well as the ability to communicate and present concepts in a clear, understandable manner.

The PhD degree program requires 4-6 semesters of coursework, the completion of  the qualifying examination and dissertation (in total, a minimum of four semesters of registration is required). Since there are no formal course requirements for the PhD, a program of courses appropriate to a student’s background and interests may be developed with a graduate adviser.


All students accepted into the PhD program must hold a master’s degree in biostatistics or a related field. Applicants to the PhD program who do not already hold an MA, if admitted, are admitted initially to the MA-PhD degree program, and then apply to continue in the PhD program. This practice does not prolong the time to conferral of the doctorate, since the first two years of both the MA and PhD programs for students coming from the baccalaureate are identical. Therefore, most students entering without a MA degree should be able to finish their PhD studies within a 5-year range. Students entering with a relevant master’s degree in biostatistics or statistics must have a faculty advisor (affiliated with the Division of Biostatistics) committing funding support.


Many doctoral graduates accept faculty positions in schools of public health, medicine, and statistics and/or math departments at colleges and universities, both in the United States and abroad. Some graduates take research positions, including with pharmaceutical companies, hospital research units, non-profits, and within the tech sector.

Admissions Statistics

12% Admissions Ratio (8/67)
3.72 Average GPA of admitted applicants
95% Average Verbal GRE scores of admitted applicants
90% Average Quantitative GRE scores of admitted applicants


Core Faculty

Clinical Faculty


Other UC Berkeley Faculty

  • David R. Brillinger, Statistics 
  • Perry De Valpine, Environmental Science, Policy and Management 
  • Haiyan Huang, Statistics 
  • Priya Moorjani, Molecular and Cell Biology 
  • Rasmus Nielsen, Integrative Biology
  • Elizabeth Purdom, Statistics 
  • Sophia Rabe-Hesketh, Graduate School of Education
  • Bin Yu, Electrical Engineering Computer Science and Statistics