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 doctoral programs is available elsewhere in this chapter of the Graduate Bulletin.

 

Apply online at graduate.admissions.vcu.edu.

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 must complete the verbal, quantitative and analytical writing sections of the Graduate Record Exam. The following mathematics courses or their equivalents are required for admission: MATH   307, MATH   309, MATH   310 and STAT   212. MATH   507 and MATH   508 are recommended for students interested in completing the Ph.D. program.

Degree requirements

In addition to the general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, Ph.D. students in the genomic biostatistics concentration will complete a minimum of 76 graduate credit hours (57 didactic credit hours plus eight hours each of consulting and seminar, and at least three credit hours of research). More specifically, required courses include:

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   553Linear Regression3
BIOS   554Analysis of Variance3
BIOS   567Statistical Methods for High-throughput Genomics Data I3
BIOS   571Clinical Trials3
BIOS   572Statistical Analysis of Biomedical Data3
BIOS   615Advanced Inference4
BIOS   625Categorical Data Analysis and Generalized Linear Models4
BIOS   632Multivariate Analysis3
BIOS   647Survival Analysis3
BIOS   668Statistical Methods for High-throughput Genomic Data II3
Select one of the following:1
Scientific Integrity
Responsible Scientific Conduct
Responsible Conduct of Research

In addition, students will take one of BIOS   667 or BIOS   691 (where the topic is genetic epidemiology or systems biology) and two other 600-level BIOS/STAT/MATH/BNFO courses. Ph.D. students must also take eight semesters of BIOS   516 and BIOS   690. In addition, Ph.D. students will participate in the summer student research program at least twice and present at the Biostatistics Student Research Symposium each fall.

Qualifying exam

Students pursuing the Ph.D. degree must pass a two-part 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   513, BIOS   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   553, BIOS   554, BIOS   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 Ph.D. level to continue in the Ph.D. program. A student who does not pass either Part A or Part B of the qualifying examination at the Ph.D. level will have one opportunity to retake that part of the qualifying examination.

Dissertation proposal defense

Students pursuing the Ph.D. degree who have passed the qualifying exam must pass a defense of their dissertation proposal that will consist of both written and oral components. For the written component of the dissertation proposal defense the student will produce a detailed report and description of the proposed research plan. For the oral component of the dissertation proposal defense the student will present the dissertation proposal to their dissertation committee and respond to any feedback or questions.

The proposal defense will be scheduled as soon as the student is ready after passing both parts of the qualifying examination. This could be as early as Year 2, with students required to defend before December of their fourth year.

Each part of the exam is graded as pass or fail. A student must pass both Part A and Part B of the dissertation proposal defense to continue toward their final dissertation defense. A student who does not pass both Part A and Part B of the dissertation proposal defense may choose to complete the requirements for a M.S. degree.

Admission to candidacy

A student must pass both parts A and B of their qualifying examination, must identify a dissertation adviser and committee and must pass both the written and oral components of the dissertation proposal defense before they can be admitted to candidacy.

Dissertation

A comprehensive dissertation reporting the results of original research related to genomics topics is required for the Ph.D. with a concentration in genomic biostatistics. It is expected that the dissertation will make use of some high-throughput genomic technology as an application for the methodological development.

Final examination

All Ph.D. candidates must defend their dissertations at a final oral examination. A public presentation will precede a Ph.D. defense closed to all but the student’s committee. Questions are restricted to the topic of the dissertation for the Ph.D. candidate.

Curriculum requirements

Required 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   553Linear Regression3
BIOS   554Analysis of Variance3
BIOS   567Statistical Methods for High-throughput Genomics Data I3
BIOS   571Clinical Trials3
BIOS   572Statistical Analysis of Biomedical Data3
BIOS   615Advanced Inference4
BIOS   625Categorical Data Analysis and Generalized Linear Models4
BIOS   632Multivariate Analysis3
BIOS   647Survival Analysis3
BIOS   668Statistical Methods for High-throughput Genomic Data II3
Select one of the following:1
Scientific Integrity
Responsible Scientific Conduct
Responsible Conduct of Research
Total Hours48

BIOS/STAT courses

Select one of the following BIOS/STAT courses (or another with approval of program director):3
Statistical Learning and Data Mining
Special Topics in Biostatistics
Total Hours3

Additional course

Select two additional three- or four-credit 600-level BIOS, STAT, MATH or BNFO courses from the following (or another with approval of program director):6
Mixed Models and Longitudinal Data Analysis
Statistical Design and Analysis in Toxicology
Statistical Design and Analysis in Toxicology
Nonlinear Models
Applied Bayesian Biostatistics
Special Topics in Biostatistics
Integrated Bioinformatics
Special Topics in Bioinformatics
Advanced Probability Theory
Mathematical Biology I
Stochastic Processes
Stochastic Processes
Machine Learning Algorithms
Design and Analysis of Experiments I
Bayesian Decision Theory
Time Series Analysis I
Total Hours6

Consulting and seminar courses

BIOS   516Biostatistical Consulting (one credit course taken eight semesters)8
BIOS   690Biostatistical Research Seminar (once credit course taken eight semesters)8
Total Hours16

Dissertation research

BIOS   697Directed Research in Biostatistics (three credits minimum)3
Total Hours3

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 76

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
roy.sabo@vcuhealth.org
(804) 828-3047

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

Program website: biostatistics.vcu.edu