UC Berkeley Biostatistics UC Berkeley Biostatistics UC Berkeley UC Berkeley
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  About the Application..._______________________   About the Applicant Pool...____________________   After Admission...___________________________   Other Questions...___________________________

What courses should I complete as an undergraduate to be eligible for admission?

Minimally, successful applicants to the MA degree program have completed a year or two of calculus (with a grade of at least B) and a course in linear algebra. Basic courses completed as an undergraduate will offer adequate background in the biological sciences although some students may choose to enhance this aspect of their training by enrolling in some biology classes during the course of the graduate program. Typical applicants to Biostatistics have undergraduate degrees in a quantitative field such as statistics or math. This does not preclude applicants who have degrees in other fields so long as course work completed includes a quantitative element.

What are the average GRE & GPA scores for a successful applicant?

GRE Scores_________________
Based on the last few years of applicant data, successful applicants completed the GRE exam with median percentiles of:
  • verbal:        90%
  • quantitative:   86%
The quantitative score is weighted most heavily; verbal scores tend to vary due to the international composition of our applicant pool.
GPA Scores_________________
A GPA is computed for courses completed after the first two years of work toward the baccalaureate. A second GPA is computed for any graduate work completed.
Successful applicants have:
  • for MA: an undergraduate (junior & senior year) GPA of at least 3.5
  • for PhD: a graduate GPA of 3.8
  • and, have a distinguished record of achievement in mathematics and statistics coursework


Can I Apply with less than a 3.0 GPA?

Yes, but you must be an outstanding applicant in every other way; the admissions process is very competitive. Also note that to qualify for a fellowship, your GPA must be above 3.5.

How many students are admitted each year?

The total number of students that may be recommended for admission each year varies from approximately 10 to 17 (admission targets for each year are determined by the campus and made available to admitting units in December).
Typically Biostatistics receives about 90 applications from which 3 are selected for admission to the PhD program and 7~14 recommended for admission to the MA degree program.
During the current academic year, there are a total of 35 students enrolled: 19 of these are female; 13 are international; with 10 students pursuing an MA program and 25 working toward the PhD.

What types of financial assistance are available?

All successful applicants to Biostatistics degree programs are considered for financial support regardless of degree goal. A number of students are offered the opportunity to serve as a GSI (teaching assistant) in either the first or second year of the program (note that international students from non-English speaking countries must pass the Test of Spoken English (TSE) in their home country or the SPEAK test administered on campus before a GSI position may be offered). Service as a GSI offers partial fee remission and payment of the health insurance premium during the semester of employment. Biostatistics students are often hired as GSIs by the Department of Statistics as well. For more information, please visit the Graduate Student Instructor Teaching Resource Center online at: http://gsi.berkeley.edu/index.html
Although there few GSR (research assistant) positions available in-house, Biostatistics students are very successful in finding this type of employment in other departments and at the San Francisco campus. Those with SAS programming and data management skills are in particular demand.
Fellowships available from the campus are limited to those students applying to doctoral degree programs. Only one applicant may be nominated each year for a campus award and the competition for these awards is very keen at the campus level. Biostatistics Block Grant Awards are available to all regardless of degree goal and are merit based. Awards are limited to tuition and/or fees.

What type of career can a Biostatistics graduate expect?

Graduates of the MA Program____________________
Those who graduate with MA degrees in Biostatistics find positions in
  • the pharmaceutical/biotech industry
  • state and county health departments
  • university campuses
  • hospital research centers
At the MA level, a graduate will typically participate as a member of a research team and will usually be expected to do some data management/analysis in addition to providing biostatistical support.
Graduates of the PhD Program____________________
Doctoral graduates most often accept faculty positions in Schools of Public Health and Statistics and/or Math departments at colleges and universities here in the US and abroad, although some PhD graduates have taken research positions in pharmaceutical companies or hospital research units and the like.
The market is very welcoming of individuals with Biostatistics degrees at both the masters and doctoral level.

Group in Biostatistics & Division of Biostatistics,
What's the difference?

The Group in Biostatistics____________________
The Interdepartmental Group in Biostatistics is composed primarily of faculty from both the School of Public Health and the Department of Statistics on the Berkeley campus. The Group is responsible for administration of the MA and PhD degree programs in Biostatistics and also administers its own fellowship competition for students in Biostatistics academic degree programs.
Both the School of Public Health and the Department of Statistics offer many amenities to Biostatistics students such as computing, office space and opportunities for employment as Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs). Individuals interested in the Biostatistics MA or PhD degree program apply to the Group in Biostatistics.
The Division of Biostatistics___________________
The Division of Biostatistics is an administrative unit within the School of Public Health. The Division does not offer a degree program but is responsible, with the Division of Epidemiology, for oversight of the Masters of Public Health degree program in Biostatistics/Epidemiology. Individuals interested in the Epi/Biostat MPH program apply to the School of Public Health.