Master of Science (MS) Degree in Biostatistics

20 months | 48-credit hours

The MS in Biostatistics is designed for completion in four terms (twenty months) with a total of 48 credits.


Program Curriculum, Courses, and Prerequisites

Core courses in Biostatistics (22 credit hours)
Courses Credits Title Usual Term
BIOS 601 4 Probability and Distribution Theory Fall, Year 1
BIOS 602 4 Biostatistical Inference Winter, Year 1
BIOS 650 4 Applied Statistics I: Linear Regression Fall, Year 1
BIOS 651 3 Applied Statistics II: Generalized Linear Models Winter, Year 1
BIOS 653 3 Applied Statistics III: Longitudinal Analysis Fall, Year 2
BIOS 699 4 Analysis of Biostatistical Investigations Winter, Year 2

Master's Programs Prerequisites

  • Advanced calculus or real analysis
  • Computing: e.g. R, Python, C++
  • 3 semesters of calculus
  • 1 semester of linear algebra
  • 1 semester of intro statistics

Students with less preparation in mathematics or statistics may be conditionally admitted.

Additional Requirements and Electives 

At least 12 additional credit hours of Biostatistics or Statistics courses are required in addition to the core courses. They may be selected from Biostatistics at the 600/800 level or from Statistics at the 500/600 level. Generally one-credit courses such as one-credit seminars and journal clubs do not count as electives. Courses that fall under this umbrella are BIOS 600, BIOS 605, BIOS 606, BIOS 510, and BIOS 803. BIOS 830 is a "special topics" seminar course, which does count toward the elective requirement.

All students in the School of Public Health are required to demonstrate competency in biostatistics and epidemiology. The epidemiology requirement may be satisfied in any one of the following ways:

  1. Completing Epidemiology 600 (Fall & Winter) or Epidemiology 601 (Fall) 
  2. Taking and passing the Epidemiology exemption examination.
  3. Completing Epidemiology 516 and any necessary prerequisites to that course. (Option available to MS student but not to MPH students.)
  4. EPID 621 as an option for students funded by the Training Program in Cancer Research

As of Fall 2018, Rackham no longer requires a cognate for MS students. However, students enrolled in the MS program and planning to apply to the Ph.D. program should be aware that the Rackham 3 credit cognate requirement is still enforced for Ph.D. students. This requirement can be met by the Epidemiology requirement.

Depending on the number of credit hours used to complete their epidemiology cognate, MS students will fill out their required 48 credit hours with 7-10 credit hours of "open elective" courses to be selected from an approved list. All current Biostatistics students are granted access to the approved list, which is maintained on a Google Drive document. The list includes additional electives in biostatistics (600+ level) and statistics (500+ level), Math 451, applied courses in public health or related topics, and courses in computational methods. Students who want to take University of Michigan courses that are not currently on the approved list are encouraged to request approval from the Curriculum Committee; please contact Nicole Fenech ( and provide the name, number of the course and description. (Courses far afield from biostatistics and public health will not be approved).

It is highly suggested that all first year students register for Biostat 611 and Biostat 612 in their first Fall and Winter semesters. These courses complement the required Biostatistics courses in providing more tailored content to uncover the hidden curriculum, succeed as a student, on the job market, and professionally on the job. Biostat 611 will allow all students entering the program to start on equal footing and additional opportunities to interact with your cohort. Biostat 612 will continue to enhance skills to thrive as a student and in internship and career searches and roles.

The Health Data Science Concentration is offered under the umbrella of the Master of Science program in Biostatistics with the same requirements of 48 credits.

The Health Data Science Concentration option within the MS in Biostatistics is available only for MS matriculants 2022 and before. All future students interested in health data science can apply directly to the Master in Health Data Science in Fall 2022 for the first cohort starting in Fall 2023.

All PhD students and MS must complete an online course, Foundations of Public Health, which is offered as a non-credit requirement. Students must pass the course exam with a cumulative score of 80% or better to fulfill this degree requirement. PhD students must complete this requirement while in pre-candidate status. Details to be announced.

A sample sequence of courses for MS students
Fall Year 1 Credits Winter Year 1 Credits
TOTAL 13-15 TOTAL 14
BIOS 600** 0-1 BIOS 602 4
BIOS 601 4 BIOS 651 3
BIOS 650 4 Elective (Biostat/Stat) 3
EPID/Open Elective 3-4 EPID/Open Elective 3

PH 610 Fall 2017 & before

Foundations of Public Health
(starting Fall 2018)



BIOS 612 1

BIOS 611


Fall Year 2 Credits Winter Year 2 Credits
TOTAL 12-13 TOTAL 10-14
BIOS 653 3 BIOS 699 4
2 Electives (Biostat/Stat) 6 1-2 Electives (Biostat/Stat) 3-6
EPID/Open Elective 3-4 EPID/Open Elective 3-4

*Math 451 is also offered in the Fall.

Students in a joint Master's program between Biostatistics and another area of study have the same core courses and overall credit requirement as students with a single major in Biostatistics. However, they are only required to complete 9 credit hours in Biostatistics (3 elective courses).

All students admitted to one of our residential programs are considered for financial support. There are four types of financial support that we offer our students: Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA), Training Grants and Fellowships.

Graduate Student Instructor (GSI)

Graduate Student Instructors are appointed at 50% effort, which involves working approximately twenty hours per week. This appointment includes full payment of tuition, health insurance coverage, registration fees and a monthly stipend. GSI’s are appointed to help with the instruction of Biostatistics courses offered to students from other Public Health Departments. The duties of a GSI can include preparing materials for and teaching labs, holding office hours, grading homework and exams, and tutoring.

Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA)

GSRA’s are appointed at 50% effort, which involves working approximately twenty hours per week on a research project. This appointment includes full payment of tuition, health insurance coverage, registration fees and a monthly stipend. GSRA’s generally work closely with a faculty member who is a principal or co-investigator on the research project. The duties of the GSRA can involve analysis of biomedical research data or statistical research. Currently, GSRAs are working on projects involving statistical methods development and application to bioinformatics, cancer, clinical trials, dentistry, diabetes, environmental health, epidemiology, genetics, health education, kidney disease, and survival analysis.

Training Grants

Students are also supported through involvement in training grants which provide support similar to the GSRA or GSI appointments. Currently, the Department has two training grants. Information can be obtained by clicking on the links below.

Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards

Awards for tuition assistance are available and are granted without a work obligation. These awards are generally made on the basis of academic merit, expected contribution to the field, and underrepresented backgrounds. Some examples of awards our students have received include:

Other award/scholarship opportunities exist for continuing students. They include:

The Rackham Sources of Aid page lists various sources of information on financial assistance available to students on campus.

Prospective students interested in applying for specific awards should contact Student Services at 734-615-9817 or

Financial Aid

Many of our students are offered funding as GSIs, GSRAs or fellows. If a student does not receive such an offer, he or she may apply for financial aid through the University of Michigan’s Office of Financial Aid. This office requires applicants for any and all types of financial aid to complete the Free Application for Federal Student AID (FAFSA) provided by the American College Testing Center (ACTC). A FAFSA will be sent to you directly if you indicate your interest in financial assistance on the admission application form. FAFSAs are available from most high school or college libraries and financial aid officers, as well as from the School of Public Health Office for Student Engagement and Practice. FAFSA is also available at

Ready to Apply?

Applications for the Biostatistics Master of Science program should be submitted through the Rackham Graduate School online application. Applications for the Biostatistics Master of Public Health program should be submitted through SOPHAS. 

Visit our ‘Applications and Deadlines’ page to start the application process.

start your application

Contact Information

MS programs:


Department of Biostatistics
School of Public Health
University of Michigan
1415 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029