Admissions FAQs

Application

Three semesters of calculus (including multivariable calculus), one semester of linear algebra, and one semester of statistics. Mastery of the content of these classes is essential for success in our program. If you took multivariable calculus or linear algebra >2 years ago, we suggest you re-familiarize yourself with the material before starting our program.

Topics covered:

  • Calculus I: functions and graphs, derivatives and their applications to
    real-life problems in various fields, and an introduction to integration.
  • Calculus II:  techniques of integration, application of these, and an
    introduction to sequences and series and to differential equations.
  • Calculus III: Vectors, Vector Functions, Functions of Two and Three
    Variables, Partial Derivatives, Optimization (including Lagrange
    multipliers), Multiple Integrals, Calculus of Vector Field, Line Integrals
    and Surface Integrals, Green's, Stokes', and Divergence Theorems.
  • Linear Algebra: matrix operations, echelon form, solution of systems of
    linear equations, Euclidean vector spaces, linear combinations,
    independence and spans of sets of vectors in Euclidean space, eigenvectors
    and eigenvalues, similarity theory.

Students admitted to the doctoral program usually have a relevant master's degree, typically a Masters degree in biostatistics or statistics. Particularly strong candidates may be admitted directly to the PhD with a bachelor’s degree. 

The Biostatistics program is a long-standing program that offers rigorous, comprehensive and in-depth training in biostatistics. The Health Data Science program is a new program that introduces enhanced training of computational and data analytic skills into the existing biostatistical curriculum for the analysis of medical and public health big data. The two programs differ in their curricula designs, as well as in their training targets (i.e., biostatisticians vs health data scientists). You may choose the program according to your own interest and career goal.

Computing/programming experience are recommended by both programs but not required for application. HDS has more computing/programming components in its required courses than Biostatistics.

Biology is not required for admission or degree completion.  However, exposure to biology is useful for understanding the kinds of data that are collected in biomedical studies, and promotes better understanding of the application of biostatistical methods. Some students choose to develop an area of biological specialization such as epidemiology, human genetics, or cancer, but this is not required. 

You need one semester of statistics. If you wish to pursue the PhD, advanced calculus is recommended, but not required. It can be taken while enrolled in our program.

There is no programming requirement for admission to our program. However, programming experience is very helpful, and will make it easier to obtain funding as a research assistant and to carry out dissertation research. If you have no programming experience, we encourage you to address this before entering the program. Statistical programming in R, and more general computing/scripting in C/C++ and Python are particularly helpful.

Generally no, particularly for multivariable calculus and linear algebra. We may occasionally make exceptions for otherwise very well qualified applicants, particularly during the time of COVID.

Ideal letters come from individuals who know you well, and can say more about you than that you did well in their course. Letters from research advisors and mentors are best, and ideally at least two should comment on your quantitative skills.

Research experience is not required, but can help you determine if a research career and graduate school is the right path for you. Research experience often makes it easier for us to find a research assistant position for you if you are funded by the department, or may help you find a research position on your own if you are not funded by the department.

We waive the application fee for all domestic applicants (US citizens and permanent residents). Unfortunately, we are not able to do so for international applicants.

We carry out a holistic application review for evidence that our program fits your educational and career goals and that you will succeed in our program. We particularly emphasize evidence of sufficient mathematical aptitude and training (based on your math/stat courses and grades, letters from math/stat instructors, and relevant research experience), and motivation and fit for our program (research and personal statements and letters of recommendation).

We accept applications on a rolling basis, but December 15 is the deadline for full consideration for admission and funding. Late applicants are considered as possible, depending upon how many students have already been admitted and/or awarded funding.

Yes, if you complete a degree from a US institution or an institution at which the official language of instruction is English, the TOEFL requirement may be waived. 
If you are applying to the MS or PhD, please see this Rackham test information page for English test rules.
If you are applying to the MPH, please see SPH International Student Application Information page

Yes, IELTS is allowed for MS and PhD applications. For MS and PhD applications, although the Admissions Committee prefers TOEFL scores, IELTS will be allowed in instances where TOEFL is unavailable. 

If you are applying to the MS or PhD, please see this Rackham test information page for English test rules specific to those programs.

The TOEFL is required for MPH applications. For rules specific to the MPH, please see the MPH International application page for more information.

Funding

These awards are determined by the department of biostatistics: full funding (such as fellowships, research positions, and teaching assistantships), partial funding (hourly paid positions), and tuition awards.

US citizens and US permanent residents will need  to fill out the FAFSA to apply for financial aid from U.S. federal and state governments. This form is used by university financial aid offices to determine need-based awards. International students cannot apply for federal student aid. 

Applicants do not need to apply for funding within the department. The Biostatistics admissions committee considers all applicants for funding. Applicants are notified of funding decisions with their admission letters.

All students admitted to the PhD program are fully funded. This includes tuition, stipend, and Gradcare health insurance.

See this page for financial aid eligibility and deadlines.  Apply here for the FAFSA.

After Admission

All students admitted to the PhD program and some admitted to the Masters program are promised funding from the department as part of their admission. Most such funding offers are made by February, some come later in the year. If you are offered funding, after the April 15 decision deadline, we will ask you for information regarding fields and faculty members of interest, and then match you to a teaching or research assistant position. Masters students not offered funding by the department often seek and obtain funding on their own. More information can be found in our Student Handbook under Student Financial Support and Employment.

This is usually a rather automatic process. The Rackham Graduate School will process the official admission after a recommendation is entered by the department. They will make sure that "minimum requirements are met." If materials are missing, they will contact you by email. For more information, please refer to the website.

Academics/In Program 

Students funded as GSRAs are strongly encouraged to be authors on papers resulting from their research with their faculty mentors and/or collaborative research supervisors. PhD students are expected to pursue publications based on their PhD research and often publish other papers as well.

There are multiple ways for MS students to get involved with research. Students may join STATCOM  to work on statistical projects from non-profit governmental and community organizations with faculty serving an advisory role. Students may register for Biostat 610: Readings in Biostatistics, where faculty and students can decide on an individualized research plan for credit. Experiential learning opportunities are available via MIDAS. While GSRA positions are limited, many students find hourly positions within and outside of Biostatistics to work on short-term projects or may find a research position during the summer. Biostatistics faculty may send emails with available positions or positions may be searched for on SPH career links.

Data indicate that 98% of students who begin the MS finish the MS program and about 80% of students who begin the PhD program, finish the PhD program. For more information, see Rackham Statistics for Biostatistics PhD and MS programs - select Biostatistics at the dropdown menu for Field of Study. 

The median time to the PhD degree is 4.6 years.

Students are encouraged to attend scientific meetings and funding to do so is available from the University, the Department, and faculty mentors.

This varies by class, year, and the size of the incoming class. Typically, elective courses are less than 30 and core courses are the size of each year's cohort which has a median value of 67 from the last 5 years.

Jobs

Students who are funded via a graduate student research assistantship (GSRA) or training grant program are generally funded throughout the year, including the summer. Often, faculty hire additional GSRAs during the summer so that opportunities may open up. Alternatively, students can pursue internships or research opportunities through the SPH , American Statistical Association, or through their own searching, often with help from faculty advisors.

99% of our 2019 graduates are employed or pursuing an advanced degree.

Michigan Biostatistics graduates have great job opportunities across a number of fields and industries including higher education, pharmaceuticals, government, health care, and technology. More details can be found at the career outcomes webpage.

Culture 

In the last few years, we have averaged around 200 total students, around half pursuing their Masters and half pursuing their PhD. 

Yes, our biggest community service effort is through STATCOM. Students regularly join this group in order to contribute to the efforts of non-profit organizations. Outside of the department, SPH (including SPH Public Health Service Day) and the UMich community at large offer many opportunities to get involved and students are encouraged to search out and engage in ways they find most beneficial.

Our goal is to create and foster a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming department for all students, staff, and faculty with which we learn and practice diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and respect for and with each other and in our scholarly work. We have two DEI committees, one composed of faculty, staff, and students and another that is student-led committee. These committees have sponsored inclusion and intercultural exchange events, discussions and seminars on important topics, and learning and mentoring workshops. For more information, see here.

We have an annual Fall picnic, Holiday party, and graduation celebration where the full department gets together. There are several other events regularly hosted by the Biostatistics Student Association (BSA) such as game or trivia night, happy hour, coffee chat, and a range of outdoor activities. Other social events occur throughout the year but change from year to year. 

Ann Arbor consistently ranks among the country’s best places to live. Home to more than 150 parks and green spaces, the city is a vibrant and diverse community for students, families, foodies, artists, sports fans, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Only 35 miles from Detroit, Ann Arbor combines small-town charm with metropolitan energy. Find out more here.

The average temperature in Ann Arbor during the winter is just around freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), although there are days where the temperature is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once you obtain the necessary accessories for the winter (e.g. coat, mittens, hat, and boots) you will be comfortable getting to and from campus and hunkering down to study. The winter allows you to really appreciate and take advantage of the sun and warmth that Ann Arbor experiences the rest of the year.