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 preferred Applications received prior to Jan 15 given priority consideration GRE

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 307MATH 310, STAT 309 and STAT 212MATH 507 and an additional graduate-level math analysis course 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 must complete a minimum total of 77 credit hours (59 didactic hours, plus eight hours each of seminar and consulting, and at least three credit hours of research). More specifically, required courses include:

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 571Clinical Trials3
BIOS 572Analysis of Biomedical Data I3
BIOS 615Advanced Inference4
BIOS 625Categorical Data Analysis and Generalized Linear Models4
BIOS 631Mixed Models and Longitudinal Data Analysis4
BIOS 647Survival Analysis3
Select one of the following:1
Scientific Integrity
Responsible Scientific Conduct
Responsible Conduct of Research

In addition, students must take two 600-level BIOS/STAT courses from the list provided; three additional 600-level BIOS, STAT or MATH courses from the list provided (including BIOS 567); and one graduate-level non-BIOS, STAT or MATH course. 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 is required for the Ph.D. degree.

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

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 571Clinical Trials3
BIOS 572Analysis of Biomedical Data I3
BIOS 615Advanced Inference4
BIOS 625Categorical Data Analysis and Generalized Linear Models4
BIOS 631Mixed Models and Longitudinal Data Analysis4
BIOS 647Survival Analysis3
Select one of the following:1
Scientific Integrity
Responsible Scientific Conduct
Responsible Conduct of Research
Total Hours40


Five of the courses listed below (at least two must be BIOS courses; at least three must be at the 600-level) or others selected with approval of program director

Select five course from the following (at least two must be BIOS courses; at least two must be at the 600-level) or other selected with approval of program director:15
Statistical Methods for High-throughput Genomics Data I
Multivariate Analysis
Statistical Design and Analysis in Toxicology
Statistical Design and Analysis in Toxicology
Statistical Learning and Data Mining
Nonlinear Models
Statistical Methods for High-throughput Genomic Data II
Applied Bayesian Biostatistics
Special Topics in Biostatistics
Mathematical Biology I
Stochastic Processes
Stochastic Processes
Machine Learning Algorithms
Design and Analysis of Experiments I
Bayesian Decision Theory
Time Series Analysis I
Total Hours15

Additional course

Select one additional course (non-BIOS, non-STAT or non-MATH) with approval or program director. Suggested courses include:3
Any three-credit 600-level course in epidemiology and community health (EPID)
Social and behavioral health (SBHD)
Health care policy and research (HCPR)
Bioinformatics (BNFO)
Total Hours3

Consulting and seminar courses

Take the following one-credit course for eight semesters:8
Biostatistical Consulting
Take the following one-credit course for eight semesters:8
Biostatistical Research Seminar
Total Hours16

Dissertation research

Take a minimum of three credits in the following dissertation research course:3
Directed Research in Biostatistics
Total Hours3

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 77

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