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MS in Biostatistics

Offering Department: 
Program Description: 

The Master of Science in Biostatistics can serve as excellent preparation for a doctorate degree, or for a career contributing to public health by using math to solve real-world problems like disease outbreaks and environmental and industrial hazards. The MS program is designed for students who desire an emphasis on the mathematical foundations of inference, with an emphasis on the basics of statistical methodology. It is an academic, research-oriented degree program with a research career focus. The MS graduate is prepared both for employment in health related research and for providing expertise in data management, study design, and statistical inference, as a member of a multidisciplinary research team. Coursework includes training in mathematical statistics and biostatistical methods, and provides a balanced education, blending theory and practice. The MS is the best choice for students planning to go on for a doctorate.

Preparation for the Degree

Mathematics preparation for the program should include at least two years of calculus:

  • Mathematics 31A, B Calculus and Analytic Geometry
  • Mathematics 32A, B Calculus of Several Variables
  • Mathematics 33A, B Matrices, Differential Equations, Infinite Series
  • Mathematics 115A Linear Algebra

Program Requirements

The program requires the completion of a minimum of 70 quarter-credit units.

Unless previously taken, the following courses must be included in the degree program:

Course Requirements


  • Biostatistics 200 A, B. C Methods in Biostatistics
  • Biostatistics 202 A, B Theoretical Principles of Biostatistics
  • Biostatistics 216, Mathematical Methods for Biostatistics
  • Biostatistics 244 Master’s Seminar and Research Resources for Graduating MS Biostatistics Students
  • Biostatistics 402A Principles of Biostatistical Consulting (2 units)
  • Biostatistics 402B Biostatistical Consulting
  • Biostatistics 596 Directed Individual Study or Research (4 units) (Master’s Report)
  • One 4-unit course in the Department of Epidemiology – either 100 or 200A
  • One 4-unit course in broad public health theme (PH C201 or HPM M242)
  • A minimum of 24 units of special topics courses from Biostatistics 202C, and 203A and above and no more than one course from the 400 series.


Required courses toward the degree must be taken on a letter grade basis, except Biostat 402B.

Failure to secure a passing grade in at most two attempts in the MS Comprehensive exam will result in the department recommending the student to the Graduate Division for Academic Disqualification.

Master’s Report:

A written report under the direction of a member of the Biostatistics faculty is required. In the spring of the second year of study, students take both Biostatistics 596 under the direction of a faculty member and Biostatistics 244 to guide the report preparation.

Comprehensive Examination:

This is a written comprehensive exam that is generally taken at the beginning of the second year of study in September. The scope of the exam includes material covered in the following biostatistics courses: 200A, 200B, 200C, 202A and 202B.  Students must pass the exam to receive the M.S. degree.  Students have a maximum of two (2) opportunities to pass the exam.

Time to Degree

The MS in Biostatistics is typically a two year program (6 academic quarters).  A typical course load is 12 units per term for first year students. It is recommended that you discuss with your academic advisor if you are considering taking a heaver course load.

Typical Course Sequencing


To view the typical sequence of classes for the MS in Biostatistics, please consult the MS in Biostatistics Sequence of Classes document. 


Desired Qualifications

In addition to the University’s Minimum Requirements, most applicants for the MS in Biostatistics have a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics, or in a Physical, Biological or Social Science. For the MS we require 2 years of calculus plus 1 quarter of linear algebra. More is always helpful. We also recommend some programming experience, some experience in Statistics or Biostatistics and some experience with a Statistics computer package.

Admissions Process

Applicants are only admitted in the Fall. Applicants who wish to be considered for all financial aid considerations, including special fellowships such as the Chancellor's fellowships, should have their applications, letters, transcripts and official GRE scores here at the School of Public Health by December 1 of the year preceding the desired entrance year.

The department will accept late applications, but we encourage you to apply as early as possible. After June 1 you should probably consider applying for the following year's admission cycle. Late applicants are less likely to be considered for financial aid.

The application process has three steps. You must:

  1. Submit an on-line application and pay the application fee at SOPHAS,
  2. Submit an online application and pay the application fee at UCLA Graduate Admissions, and
  3. Mail required academic documents and test scores to SOPHAS and to UCLA's School of Public Health.

For complete application instructions and the list of required materials, review the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Admission Application Check List and Submission Instructions.

As we receive many more qualified applicants for the program than there are available spaces, meeting the minimum requirements for admission does not ensure admission to the program. 

Tuition and Fees

For the most up to date fees and more information on fee breakdown, visit the registrar's office.

Please see FSPH Financial Opportunities page for information on awards, scholarships, training opportunities, employment, summer internship funding, and need-based aid. Please note that opportunities listed under 'Summer Internship Funding' are only applicable to MPH students.


Biostatisticians have the potential to have enormous scientific impact in medicine, public health, life sciences, survey research, and computer science. There is tremendous variety in possible fields of application, including AIDS, cancer, genetics, imaging, bioinformatics, immunology and public policy.  Graduates in Biostatistics emerge as statisticians who have additional training in medical and other health-science fields. Graduates of MS program often go on to a doctoral degree or to a career in an academic, industry or government research position.

Faculty in this Department

For a list of faculty members in this department, please click here.

To search all School of Public Health faculty members by name, department or area of expertise, click here.

Helpful Links

For an overview of the MS program Biostatistics, consult the Program Overview document.

To consult the departmental handbook for all programs in Biostatistics, download the Biostatistics Department Handbook.

Who to Contact for More Information

For more information or for questions on the program, please contact Roxy Naranjo at or 310.267.2186.

*This information is intended as an overview, and should be used as a guide only. Requirements, course offerings and other elements may change, and this overview may not list all details of the program. For the most up-to-date information, please consult the registrar’s office.


* Admission requirements listed are departmental requirements, and are in addition to the University's minimum requirements. Many programs receive more applicants than can be admitted, so meeting the minimum requirements for admission does not ensure admission. Every effort is made to ensure minimum admissions requirements are up to date - for the most up-to-date information on the University's minimum requirements, please visit the UCLA Graduate Division.

** Fees are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. For the most up to date fees and more information on fee breakdown, visit the registrar's office.