VCU Bulletins

Biostatistics, Master of Science (M.S.)

Graduate program director
Roy T. Sabo, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Department of Biostatistics
(804) 828-3047

Additional contact
Russell M. Boyle
Associate director, graduate programs in biostatistics
(804) 827-2049

Program website:

Refer to the program search function of the online VCU Bulletins for a complete listing of all programs, concentrations and related curricular options.

Biostatistics, Master of Science (M.S.) with a concentration in clinical research and biostatistics
Biostatistics, Master of Science (M.S.) with a concentration in genomic biostatistics

Apply online at

Admission requirements

Biostatistics, Master of Science (M.S.)

of entry:

Fall preferred

Applications received prior to Jan 15 given priority consideration


In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, applicants for the M.S. in Biostatistics must complete the verbal, quantitative and analytical writing sections of the Graduate Record Exam.

Additionally, the following mathematics courses or their equivalents are required for admission: MATH 307 Multivariate Calculus, MATH 309 Introduction to Probability Theory, MATH 310 Linear Algebra and STAT 212 Concepts in Statistics. Although not required, prior course work in additional mathematics, statistics or computer science is helpful.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university.  These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

General academic regulations for
all graduate students in all graduate programs at VCU

Program goal

The mission of the VCU Department of Biostatistics is to improve human health through methodological research, the education of graduate students and health science researchers in biostatistical methods and applications, and collaborative health sciences research. Faculty members conduct methodological research motivated by collaborative alliances, which in turn contributes to and enhances the department’s educational mission. By focusing on the integration of methodological and collaborative research, students develop strong biostatistical and communication skills, enabling them to assume leadership positions in academia, government and industry.

The program is designed to provide students with the skills required to advance to positions as bioscience researchers/trainers in a broad spectrum of positions. The structure of the program provides a framework for the progressive development of a mastery of the current state of the subject matter of bioscience and an ability to synthesize this information and apply this foundation to the identification of key areas of investigation/experimentation in bioscience. The program relates the above framework to the development of the ability to design, implement and interpret experimental approaches which address the questions identified. In addition, students will develop skills in the various means of communicating both the core of bioscience knowledge and the expression of experimental design, results and interpretation to a variety of potential audiences.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Experimental design: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of competence in the ability to appraise, modify and/or create, and implement experimental protocols and to design and develop experiments as measured by rubric.
  2. Integrated knowledge of mathematics and bioscience: The candidate will demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge of the current elements of mathematics as related to bioscience and a more detailed understanding of the individual area of scholarship, including an appropriate familiarity with the research literature and the ability to evaluate and critique publications as measured by rubric.
  3. Oral communication skills: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of oral communication skills with respect to the content, organization, logical flow, presentation and appropriate use of language incorporating the use of visual aids, as measured by rubric.
  4. Problem-solving skills: The candidate will demonstrate an appropriate level of skill in the identification and selection of meaningful problems to be addressed in bioscience research, including the ability to defend said identifications and to design and develop appropriate methods to solve said problems as measured by rubric.
  5. Written communication skills: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of written communication skill with respect to grammar, syntax, spelling and use of vocabulary to effectively present information including the use of figures, tables and citations as measured by rubric.

Degree requirements

In addition to the general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, M.S. students must complete a minimum total of 42 graduate credit hours of course work. Students are required to take BIOS/STAT 513 and 514, BIOS 524, BIOS 546, BIOS 553, BIOS 554, BIOS 571 and BIOS 572. In addition, each student is required to take one of BIOS 615, BIOS 616, BIOS 625, BIOS 631 or 647. Students are also required to take either BIOS 567 and one other 500- or 600-level BIOS or STAT course, or two other 500- or 600-level BIOS or STAT courses. Full-time master’s students must take four credit hours each of BIOS 516 Biostatistical Consulting and BIOS 690 Biostatistical Research Seminar. In addition, students will participate in the summer student research program and present at the Biostatistics Student Research Symposium the summer and fall after the first year, which will require one credit hour of BIOS 697 Directed Research in Biostatistics.

Qualifying exam

Students pursuing the M.S. in Biostatistics must pass a qualifying examination administered at the end of May or the beginning of June after completion of the first year of course work. The examination is an in-class, closed-book exam given over a period of two days and covers material from the following first-year courses:

Part A: Applied covers BIOS 553, 554, 571 and 572.
Part B: Theoretical covers BIOS/STAT 513, BIOS/STAT 514 and BIOS 546.

Each part of the exam is graded as pass/fail. A student who does not pass Part A or Part B of the exam at the M.S. level must retake that part of the qualifying exam. Such a student may petition the examination committee of the Department of Biostatistics for a winter administration of the qualifying exam.


M.S. in Biostatistics students must write a thesis that reports the results of data analysis, or a review or survey. An original research topic is not required.

Final examination

M.S. in Biostatistics candidates must defend their theses at a final oral examination. While questions are restricted to the topic of the dissertation for the Ph.D. candidate, no such restriction applies for the thesis defense for M.S. candidates.

Curriculum requirements

Courses Credit hours
Core courses 24
BIOS/STAT 513 Mathematical Statistics I 3
BIOS/STAT 514 Mathematical Statistics II 3
BIOS 524 Biostatistical Computing 3
BIOS 546 Theory of Linear Models 3
BIOS 553 Linear Regression 3
BIOS 554 Analysis of Variance 3
BIOS 571 Clinical Trials 3
BIOS 572 Statistical Analysis of Biomedical Data 3
One of the following: 3 (minimum) 
BIOS 615 Advanced Inference 4
BIOS 616 Advanced Inference 4
BIOS 625 Categorical Data Analysis and Generalized Linear Models 4
BIOS 631 Multivariate Analysis I 4
BIOS 647 Survival Analysis 3
One of the following combinations: 6 (minimum)
BIOS 567 Statistical Methods for High-throughput Genomic Data I plus one of the courses in the list below 6
 Or (with program director approval) two of:  
BIOS 632 Multivariate Analysis II 3
BIOS 638 Statistical Design and Analysis of Toxicology 3
BIOS 639 Statistical Design and Analysis of Toxicology 3
BIOS/STAT 650 Design and Analysis of Response Surface Experiments 3
BIOS 667 Statistical Learning and Data Mining 3
BIOS 688 Applied Bayesian Biostatistics 3
STAT 503 Introduction to Stochastic Processes 3
STAT 613 Stochastic Processes 3
STAT 614 Stochastic Processes 3
STAT 625 Applied Multivariate Analysis 3
Consulting and seminar 8 (minimum)
BIOS 516 Biostatistical Consulting (one-credit course taken four semesters) 4
BIOS 690 Biostatistical Research Seminar (one-credit course taken four semesters) 4
Summer student research program 1 (minimum)
BIOS 697 Directed Research in Biostatistics 1
Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 42

Typical plan of study

Many students often end up taking more than the minimum number of hours required for a degree program. The total number of hours may vary depending upon the program, nature of research being conducted by a study or in the enrollment or funding status of the student. Students should refer to their program websites and talk with their graduate program directors or advisers for information about typical plans of study and registration requirements.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Degree candidacy requirements

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Graduation requirements

Other information

School of Medicine graduate program policies

The School of Medicine provides policies applicable to all programs administratively housed in the school. Information on master’s programs is available in the Graduate Bulletin at



Comments/feedback about this site   |   Bulletin (catalog) archives/printer-friendly bulletins   |   About these bulletins

Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia
Contact us:

Last update: 2/27/2015

Created by VCU University Relations

The VCU Bulletin is in transition! As we move from this first iteration of our online Bulletin to a new product and process, what you find on this website is information for the 2014-15 academic year.

While much of the curricular information remains the same, changes that were approved with the effective date of fall 2015 will not be reflected on this website. Prospective students may wish to contact the school or department that administers their program of interest in order to discuss the most current curriculum and concentration options.

Enrolled students who are completing their studies under an effective Bulletin may continue to access the archives at, where past Bulletins are available to reference or download.

Our anticipated launch of the new VCU Bulletin is July 2015. To follow our progress, visit the new Bulletin blog.