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

  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.

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 Graduate study section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

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.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on 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.

Visit the Graduate study 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

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
Ph.D. Fall preferred Applications received prior to Jan 15 given priority consideration GRE

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 33 credit hours of course work. Required courses include BIOS 513/STAT 513 and BIOS 514/STAT 514, BIOS 524,BIOS 546, BIOS 553,BIOS 554, BIOS 571 andBIOS 572. In addition, each student is required to take BIOS 567 and BIOL 540BNFO 540 (or equivalent) and one of BIOS 632, BIOS 667,BIOS 668 and BIOS 691 (the latter when the topic is systems biology or statistical genetics/genetic epidemiology).

Full-time master’s students must take four semesters of BIOS 516 and BIOS 690. In addition, students will participate once in the student summer teaching program and present at the Biostatistics Student Research Symposium in the fall.

Qualifying exam

Students pursuing the M.S. degree must pass a qualifying examination administered after completion of their first-year courses. Part A (the theoretical examination) is an in-class, closed-book examination administered in one day and covers material from the following first-year courses: BIOS 513BIOS 514 and BIOS 546. Part B (the applied examination) is a take-home, open-book examination administered over one week and covers material from the following first-year courses: BIOS 553BIOS 554BIOS 571 and BIOS 572.

Each part of the exam is graded as pass or fail. A student must pass both Part A and Part B of the qualifying exam at the M.S. level to continue in the M.S. program. A student who does not pass either Part A or Part B of the qualifying examination at the M.S. level will have one opportunity to retake that part of the qualifying examination.


M.S. in Biostatistics with a concentration in genomic biostatistics concentration 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. 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

Core courses

BIOL/BNFO 540Fundamentals of Molecular Genetics (or other relevant course)3
BIOS/STAT 513Mathematical Statistics I3
BIOS/STAT 514Mathematical Statistics II3
BIOS 524Biostatistical Computing3
BIOS 546Theory of Linear Models3
BIOS 553Biostatistical Methods I3
BIOS 554Biostatistical Methods II3
BIOS 567Statistical Methods for High-throughput Genomics Data I3
BIOS 571Clinical Trials3
BIOS 572Analysis of Biomedical Data I3
Total Hours30

Additional course

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)
Total Hours3

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 33

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.

Graduate program director
Roy T. Sabo, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Department of Biostatistics
(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: