UC Berkeley Biostatistics UC Berkeley Biostatistics UC Berkeley UC Berkeley
Masters of Arts (MA) Degree

The Masters of Arts Degree in Biostatistics is completed in four semesters. Candidates for this degree are expected to earn 48 units with courses in biostatistics, statistics, public health, and biology. The 12-unit minimum enrollment requirement per semester may be met with independent research or seminar courses. Students must enroll for all four semesters of the program; therefore, use of the filing fee in the final semester is not an option.

All biostatistics students are required to take STAT 201A and 201B (STAT 201A may be replace by the more advanced STAT 205A or B and STAT 201B by STAT 210A or B) as well as at least 16 units from the Biostatistics core sequence PB HLTH C240A, B, C, D, E & F or PB HLTH 252D-E. In addition, at least 12 units are required from PB HLTH 240-248, 295, 296 or courses in STAT 200+ (undergraduate courses such as STAT 133 may be allowed).
Students pursuing an MA degree in Biostatistics will be expected, upon completion of the program, to be well-versed in the following areas:

  • Fundamental statistical methods, including statistical estimation, hypothesis testing, regression analysis, analysis of variance and longitudinal data.
  • Algorithms and computer applications.
  • Analysis of multivariate data -- categorical and continuous -- with particular emphasis on epidemiology.
  • Interpretation of survival analysis data and issues, including knowledge of life table methodology, competing causes of death, medical follow-up studies, parametric models and nonparametric methods.
  • Computational biology methods including gene mapping, microarray data analysis and other topics in genomics.
  • Methods of analysis using vital and health statistics, census data, rates and adjusted rates.


The Group in Biostatistics is committed to students who wish to submit a THESIS (PLAN I) to fulfill requirements for the MA degree. However, for a May degree, a candidate must commit to this option by the end of January to allow time for approval of the thesis committee. Students should have early discussions with their graduate adviser on recommended thesis committee members.

A thesis committee requires three faculty members, two from the Group in Biostatistics and preferably one outside faculty member (for example, from Epidemiology or one of the biological sciences). If an outside member cannot be identified, a third member from the Group in Biostat is permissible.

Alternatively, a comprehensive exam may be taken to fulfill requirements though the decision to take the oral examination must be made early in the final semester of the program.



The oral comprehensive examination (PLAN II) for the MA degree is designed to test a candidate's breadth of understanding and knowledge and the ability to articulate and explain the basic concepts gained from the curriculum. The examination committee consists of two biostatistics faculty members. Candidates are asked to select three topics and write a description of each (about 5 pages total). Topics are presented during the exam period of 90 minutes. Examiners are free to ask for clarification or elaboration through requests for more background, detail or examples.