Health Data Science Concentration

The Health Data Science concentration at the University of Michigan School of Public Health prepares students for the fast-growing data science industry through comprehensive multidisciplinary training. Students will work directly with faculty in the #1 ranked Department of Biostatistics to build the action-based quantitative and computational skills necessary to make a transformative impact in public health practice.

Students will build on the core of the Biostatistics Master of Science Degree and develop substantial knowledge of biomedical sciences and public health, big data analytics and computing skills, and statistical modeling and analysis.

Health Data Science Concentration

Gain Skills to Set Yourself Apart in a Growing Industry

Students will gain action-based data analysis experiences on various omics data, brain imaging data, electronic health records, and mobile health. Learning to use R software and Python in Spark or Hadoop-distributed computing systems to analyze health-related big data, students will have the opportunity to work directly with faculty to develop and practice their real-world data analysis skills.  

Life After Graduation

Graduates from the Health Data Science concentration are very competitive in the data science job market, especially related to large-scale health data. This concentration is designed to provide students with marketable skills to help them enter and thrive in the workforce immediately.

Course Information

In addition to the existing core and elective courses in the Master of Science or PhD programs, the Health Data Science concentration features four core courses and five elective courses. Some of these courses are part of the current Master of Science program courses and some are new courses designed specifically for the Health Data Science concentration. One of the four core courses replace required courses for the traditional MS degree (BIOS 653: Applied Statistics III – Longitudinal Data Analysis).

Featured core courses in the Health Data Science concentration

FIRST TERM OfferED Course Code and Title First Instructor
Fall 2019 BIOS 625
Computing with Big Data

Hui Jiang
Winter 2020 BIOS 620
Introduction to Health Data Science

Peter Song
Winter 2021 BIOS 629
Case Studies in Health Big Data
Walther Dempsey and  Nick Henderson
Winter 2021 BIOS 699
Analysis of Biostatistical Investigations
Phil Boonstra, Jean Morrison, Jeremy Taylor

Additional core courses can be found here.

Featured elective courses in the Health Data Science concentration

FIRST TERM OFFERED COURSE CODE AND TITLE FIRST INSTRUCTOR
Fall 2019 BIOS 607
Computing for Data Analytics
Hyun Min Kang
Fall 2019 BIOS 615
Statistical Computing
Jian Kang
Winter 2020 BIOS 617
Theory and Methods of Sample Design
Mike Elliott
Fall 2020 BIOS 619
Clinical Trails
Kelley Kidwell
Fall 2020 BIOS 653
Longitudinal Data Analysis
Zhenke Wu
Winter 2021 BIOS 626
Machine Learning for Health Sciences
William Wen

Students' computing skills will be assessed for election of courses from the Health Data Science concentration and other degree core/elective courses. First-year MS students in Biostatistics can access information and advice from the department and faculty to plan their sequence of course selections.  Ongoing PhD students are able to complete this concentration. If they choose this route, some additional coursework is needed in order to meet the requirements of both the PhD and the HDS concentration.

HDS students must complete for their capstone courses (i) all four credits of BIOSTAT 699 and (ii) BIOSTAT 629 (1-2 credits). Biostat 629 will correspond to one or two comprehensive projects on mobile health, electronic health records, imaging data, omics data, etc.

Tables I and II below present two examples of course selections for a student with modest computing skills (e.g. having little knowledge of R programming) and for a student with strong computing skills (e.g. having extensive knowledge and experience in R, C++ and Python programming), respectively.

BIOS 607 is designed to prepare students with computing skills. In this way the Health Data Science concentration is more flexible and inclusive as a professional training program for workforce in health data analytics.

Table I. A possible sequence of course selections by an incoming MS student with modest computing skills, who begins with the three modules of BIOS 607.

Semester 1st Fall 1st Winter 2nd Fall 2nd Winter
Courses BIOS 601 (4) BIOS 602 (4) BIOS 615 (3) BIOS 699 (4), BIOS 629 (1-2)
BIOS 650 (4) BIOS 651 (3) BIOS 625 (3) BIOS 626 (3)
BIOS 607 (3) BIOS 620 (3) BIOS 619 (3) Elective/Open Elective (3)
Epid/Open Elective (3) BIOS 617 (3) Elective/Open Elective (3)  
Credit Hours 14 13 12 10
Cumulative Credit Hours 14 27 39 49

Table II. A possible sequence of course selections by a first-year MS student with strong computing skills, who does not take BIOSTAT 607 but begins with BIOSTAT 625.

Semester 1st Fall 1st Winter 2nd Fall 2nd Winter
Courses BIOS 601 (4) BIOS 602 (4) BIOS 615 (3) BIOS 699 (4), BIOS 629 (1-2)
BIOS 650 (4) BIOS 651 (3) BIOS 619 (3) BIOS 626 (3)
BIOS 625 (3) BIOS 620 (3) Elective/Open Elective (3) Elective/Open Elective (3)
  BIOS 617 (3) Epid/Open Elective (3) Elective/Open Elective (3)
Credit Hours 11 13 12 13
Cumulative Credit Hours 11 24 36 49

Note that there is one course (BIOS 653) not included in the curriculum of the Health Data Science concentration that is required by the PhD qualifying exams. Students interested in pursuing a PhD should take 653 in place of an elective the 2nd fall semester. Students already in the PhD program should take BIOS 653 for their qualifying exams.

Admissions Information

Students must be admitted to the Master of Science or PhD program in the University of Michigan School of Public Health's Department of Biostatistics. Once admitted, students will declare their intention to pursue the Health Data Science concentration at the end of their first year, by the end of May.


Have Questions?

For more information about the Health Data Science concentration, contact one of our graduate program coordinators.

Fatma Nedjari

Phone: 734-615-9812
Email: fned@umich.edu

Nicole Fenech

Phone: 734-615-9817
Email: fenechn@umich.edu 

How/when do I apply for this program?

The Health Data Science concentration is not an option in the MS application, and thus there is no application procedure. Interested students should simply declare their intention to complete the Health Data Science concentration by May before their first (Fall) semester at Michigan Public Health by notifying a graduate program coordinator (Fatma Nedjari or Nicole Fenech). Students are encouraged to consult with their academic adviser about Health Data Science course selection.

Will I get in? Is there a cap? Am I automatically in? Are there more prerequisites?

There is no screening or selection procedure. This concentration program is open to all incoming Biostatistics MS students and operated as an automatic enrollment option. Interested students are encouraged to make a decision as soon as they arrive in their first Fall semester since the concentration courses are spread out over two years. As a specific track within the MS program, all Health Data Science courses require the same prerequisites as those in the core courses in the MS program.

When will I know if I get in the concentration program?

You may either notify a graduate program coordinator about your desire to pursue the Health Data Science subplan immediately after you decide to accept your admission offer to the Biostatistics MS program or in the beginning of your first Fall semester. At the stage of enrollment, simply follow the courses required by the Health Data Science concentration.

I have been admitted directly from a bachelor's degree program to the PhD program (or I definitely want to do the PhD program). Am I eligible for this Health Data Science concentration?

Yes, although masters' students interested in applying for the PhD program must be sure to include BIOS 653 (Theory and Application of Longitudinal Data Analysis) in their coursework.