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.

Student learning outcomes

This training program is designed to be completed in 18 months (four semesters: fall, spring, summer, fall) and will help students achieve the following learning outcomes:

  1. The successful candidate will understand the modern and advanced literature of biostatistical and genomics concepts, ideas and methods.
  2. The successful candidate will demonstrate the ability to effectively collaborate with both biostatistical, genomics and health science researchers, specifically with respect to planning and designing research studies, and also in analyzing data from a broad spectrum of research questions.
  3. The successful candidate will develop fluency in several computational languages, will exhibit proficiency in standard computational and analytic procedures, and will demonstrate the ability to computationally solve new and complex problems.
  4. The successful candidate will display exceptional written and oral communication skills in terms of explaining biostatistical and genomics concepts, methods and results to both biostatistical and non-biostatistical health sciences researchers.

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.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

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.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on 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 elsewhere in this chapter of the Graduate Bulletin.


Apply online at

Admission requirements

Admission requirements
Degree:Semester(s) of entry:Deadline dates:Test requirements:
Ph.D.Fall preferredApplications received prior to Jan 15 given priority considerationGRE

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 307Multivariate Calculus4
MATH 310Linear Algebra3
STAT 212Concepts of Statistics3
STAT 309Introduction to Probability Theory3

Although not required, prior course work in additional mathematics, statistics or computer science is helpful.

Degree requirements

In addition to the general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, M.S. students will complete a minimum total of 42 credit hours of course work. Required courses include BIOS 512 or BIOS 513, BIOS 524, BIOS 601, BIOS 602, BIOS 606BIOS 653BIOS 654, BIOS 658, OVPR 601, BIOL 540 or BNFO 540, at least one of  BIOS 632, BIOS 667BIOS 668 and BIOS 691 (the latter when the topic is systems biology or statistical genetics/genetic epidemiology), and one other 500- or 600-level BIOS, STAT, MATH or BNFO course. M.S. students must take four credit hours of BIOS 603 and and two credit hours of BIOS 690. M.S. students interested in applying to the Ph.D. program in biostatistics (with no concentration or with a concentration in genomic biostatistics) are strongly encouraged to take both BIOS 513 and BIOS 514, participate in the Summer Student Training Program and present at the Biostatistics Student Research Symposium.

Qualifying exam

Students pursuing the M.S. degree must pass a qualifying examination administered after completion of their first-year courses. This applied examination covers material from the following first-year courses: BIOS 524, BIOS 601, BIOS 602 and BIOS 606. This examination is graded as pass or fail. A student must pass the qualifying examination at the M.S. level to continue in the M.S. program. A student who does not pass the qualifying examination at the M.S. level will have one opportunity to retake the examination. Students interested in applying to the Ph.D. program in biostatistics (with no concentration or with a concentration in genomic biostatistics) are strongly encouraged to also take the theoretical component of the qualifying examination covering material from the following first-year courses: BIOS 513, BIOS 514, BIOS 653 and BIOS 654. These students must pass both the applied and theoretical qualifying examinations at the Ph.D. level in order to be considered in the Ph.D. program.


There is no thesis requirement in the M.S. program.

Course requirements

Required core courses
BIOS 516Biostatistical Consulting (one-credit course taken four semesters)4
BIOS 524Biostatistical Computing3
BIOS 601Analysis of Biomedical Data I3
BIOS 602Analysis of Biomedical Data II3
BIOS 606Clinical Trials3
BIOS 653Biostatistical Methods I4
BIOS 654Biostatistical Methods II4
BIOS 690Biostatistical Research Seminar (one-credit course taken two semesters)2
OVPR 601Scientific Integrity1
Required additional courses
BIOL/BNFO 540Fundamentals of Molecular Genetics (or other relevant course)3
BIOS 512Basic Mathematical Statistics3
or BIOS 513 Mathematical Statistics I
BIOS 658Statistical Methods for High-throughput Genomics Data I3
Elective courses
Select one of the following:3
Multivariate Analysis
Statistical Learning and Data Mining
Statistical Methods for High-throughput Genomic Data II
Special Topics in Biostatistics (systems biology or genetic epidemiology)
Select at least one 500- or 600-level course (minimum three credits), which may be selected from the following list or another course with program director approval.3
Behavioral Measurement
Spatial Data Analysis
Advanced Inference
Mixed Models and Longitudinal Data Analysis
Structural Equation Modeling
Survival Analysis
Advanced Spatial Data Analysis
Applied Bayesian Biostatistics
Stochastic Processes
Stochastic Processes
Applied Multivariate Analysis
Total Hours42

The minimum total of graduate credit hours required for this degree is 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.

Roy T. Sabo, Ph.D.
Associate professor and graduate program director
(804) 828-3047

Additional contact (admissions and prospective students)
Russell M. Boyle
Assistant professor, Department of Biostatistics, and associate program director
(804) 827-2049

Program website: