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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Johns Hopkins Department of Biostatistics PhD program prepares persons who have demonstrated excellence in mathematics and the natural or social sciences to become research biostatisticians in academia, industry, or government. PhD graduates:

  • Conduct and publish original research on the theory and methodology of biostatistics;
  • Apply innovative theory and methods to the solution of public health problems;
  • Serve as expert biostatisticians on collaborative teams of investigators addressing key public health questions;
  • Teach biostatistics effectively to health professionals and scientists as well as to graduate students in biostatistics.

More detailed information is available below, in the Department of Biostatistics Student Handbook, and in the School of Public Health's Policies and Procedures Memorandum on the PhD degree.

Program Overview

The PhD program of the Johns Hopkins Department of Biostatistics provides training in the theory of probability and statistics and in biostatistical methodology. The program is unique in its emphasis on the foundations of statistical reasoning and in requiring its graduates to complete rigorous training in real analysis-based probability and statistics, equivalent to what is provided in most departments of mathematical statistics.

The core curriculum consists of the following components:

  • A one-year sequence on biostatistical methodology (140.751-754)
  • A one-year sequence on probability (140.721-724)
  • A one-year sequence on foundations and theory of statistical science (140-.731-734)
  • A two-term sequence on advanced data science (140.711-712)
  • Epidemiologic Inference in Public Health I (340.721)

Entrance Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree
  • Completed School of Public Health application
  • GRE score results
  • TOEFL results (if your most recent academic degree is from a university where English is NOT the primary language of instruction)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • Prior coursework in calculus and linear algebra

Incoming students without a strong background in basic biology are strongly encouraged to register for the course Introduction to the Biomedical Sciences (260.600), held in advance of the first term each year during the latter part of August. Click here to search for course times and descriptions.

For more information about admission requirements for the School of Public Health, please contact the School's Admissions Office.

You may be eligible for an application fee waiver. Learn about eligibility criteria and how to get a fee waiver here.

Student Evaluations

The Department is committed to providing every opportunity for its students to successfully complete the academic program of their choice. To support students in progressing toward the degree and to further their educational experience, the Department offers a comprehensive written examination at the end of the first year and a practice oral exam, usually taken no later than six months after the end of the fourth term of the second year. See the Department of Biostatistics Student Handbook for more details about the first-year PhD comprehensive exam.

The main purpose of the practice examination is to evaluate students' ability to communicate statistical ideas and concepts.  Students should prepare a paper/proposal related to their potential thesis topic.  In addition, the University requires students to successfully complete a preliminary oral examination, typically taken at the beginning of the third year where a thesis proposal is presented and discussed, and an oral thesis defense, where the completed thesis is defended in a public forum.

Research and Teaching Assistantships

The Department of Biostatistics offers teaching and research assistantships to its PhD students on a competitive basis. All PhD applicants (US and international) are ranked based upon their merits; top candidates are offered assistantships which last five years and include full tuition, health insurance, and a living stipend starting at $25,000 per year over the five years of study. In exchange, students are required to apprentice with faculty as research and teaching assistants for up to 19 hours per week. Students find the teaching and research assistantships to be the most valuable part of their PhD experience.


The Department offers a weekly seminar program featuring recent work by outstanding statistical scientists from around the world. Attendance is required for all graduate students. One seminar per month may be designated to be part of the Biostatistics "Grand Rounds" series, which features statistical analyses addressing important public health questions.

Recommended Curriculum

  • Year One
  • Year Two
  • Year Three
    • Coursework in scientific/statistical electives/special studies for a minimum of 16 credits per term
  • Years Four-Five
    • Coursework in  scientific/statistical electives/special studies for a minimum of 16 credits per term

In order for PhD students to graduate from the Bloomberg School of Public Health: At least 18 credit units of formal coursework are required in courses outside the student's primary department. At least nine of these credits must be taken in the School of Public Health. Additionally, PhD candidates will successfully complete the courses 550.600 Responsible Conduct of Research, 550.860 Academic and Research Ethics at JHSPH, and 550.865 Public Health Perspectives in Research. A waiver to the requirement for Public Health Perspectives is given automatically if a student earned an MPH from a U.S. institution within the last ten years.

For PhD students matriculating in 2018-19 and later: By no later than the end of the fall term of Year 4, and in advance of scheduling the thesis defense, students MUST have earned a minimum of 16 credits from advanced elective courses in Biostatistics or other related disciplines (e.g. Computer Science). The course sequences Advanced Methods in Biostatistics I – IV (140.751-754), Probability Theory I-IV (140.721-724), Statistical Theory I-IV (140.731-734), and Advanced Data Science I-II (140.711-712) do NOT count toward this requirement. Please consult our List of Elective Courses for PhD Students for recognized courses. Students may take courses not included in this list, but they MUST first consult with and obtain approval from both their advisor and the graduate program committee.  Elective courses MUST be taken for either a letter grade or pass/fail.

Academic Ethics

Students in the Bloomberg School of Public Health are expected to abide by the highest levels of academic and research integrity. Click here to view information on our standards and requirements for academic integrity.

All students must complete an online module to familiarize themselves with this code.

As stated in the Academic Ethics Code, "violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to: cheating; plagiarism; knowingly furnishing false information to any agent of the University for inclusion in the academic record; violation of the rights and welfare of animal or human subjects in research; and misconduct as a member of either School or University committees or recognized groups or organizations."

For a Biostatistics student, abiding by the Academic Ethics code includes:

  • Completing work on one's own when an individual assignment or examination is given in a course.
  • Providing proper attribution to others' work by providing citations with quotations and giving proper references for all data analysis projects, research proposals and dissertations and theses.