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.


This program requires four to six semesters of coursework followed by two to four semesters to complete examinations and prepare a dissertation. Since there are no unit or course requirements, a program of courses appropriate to a student’s background and interests may be developed. Students who are interested have the opportunity to complete a Designated Emphasis (DE) in Computational and Genomic Biology.

All doctoral students are required to:

  • take a qualifying examination to test both a candidate’s general competence in the field of biostatistics and the ability to apply biostatistical methods to a broad research area,
  • prepare a dissertation and
  • defend their dissertation in a formal presentation to a student-selected committee.


Applicants should have completed undergraduate and graduate work in calculus and linear algebra and have a strong overall quantitative background.

  • Common undergraduate majors for admitted applicants: Biological sciences, math and statistics.
  • Common work experience for admitted applicants: Typical admitted applicants have work experience in quantitative analysis in a research setting. Many of them have co-authored articles published in medical or scientific journals. The following is a sample of the job-titles of successful applicants: research analyst, data director, biostatistician, programmer analyst, statistical consultant and research assistant.


Doctoral graduates most often accept faculty positions in schools of public health 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 and hospital research units.

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

Program Manager
Janene Martinez

(510) 642-3241

Head of Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics:

Art Reingold

Biostatistics MA & PhD Program Directors:

Maya Petersen
Mark van der Laan