The Master of Science (M.S.) degree program in Public Health (PH) is designed with an emphasis on mastering the skills in individual specialty areas within public health. Programs are currently offered in Biostatistics and Chronic Disease Epidemiology. The length of study leading to the M.S. degree is one year full-time for the Chronic Disease Epidemiology track and two years full-time for the Biostatistics track. Part-time students must complete the degree within five years of matriculation.
The M.S. in PH is offered through the School’s affiliation with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The Graduate Studies Executive Committee (GSEC) and the director of graduate studies (DGS) are responsible for overseeing the progress of M.S. students.
Biostatistics Track (BIS)
The M.S. in Biostatistics is a two-year program. It is designed to train students to meet the growing need in managed care organizations, medical research, and the pharmaceutical industry for graduates with technical skills in data analysis. In contrast to the more general M.P.H. degree, the M.S. degree emphasizes the mastery of biostatistical skills from the beginning of the plan of study. While graduates of this program may apply to the Ph.D. degree program, the M.S. degree is itself quite marketable as a terminal degree.
The Biostatistics track requires the completion of thirteen required and elective courses (excluding the Ethics course, EPH 600b; the Seminar, BIS 525a and b; and the Summer Internship, BIS 695c) and satisfactory completion of the Master’s Thesis Research.
*These courses are offered in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. †These courses do not count toward the thirteen required courses. ‡Students entering the program with an M.P.H. or relevant graduate degree may be exempt. Course number Course title Course units n/a 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 n/a 1 n/a 1 1
In addition, students must complete two elective courses chosen from the list below. Students will also be required to take a Professional Skills Seminar (dates and times announced during the fall term).
Biostatistics electives are to be selected from these courses: BIS 557a, Computational Statistics; BIS 567a, Bayesian Statistics; BIS 643b, Theory of Survival Analysis; BIS 646b, Nonparametric Statistical Methods and Their Applications; BIS 651b, Spatial Statistics in Public Health; and BIS 691b, Theory of Generalized Linear Models. Students demonstrating a mastery of topics covered by the required courses may replace them with more advanced courses but must receive written permission from the DGS prior to enrolling in the substitute courses.
Upon receiving an M.S. in the Biostatistics track of Public Health, the student will be able to:
- • Describe advanced concepts of probability, random variation, and commonly used statistical probability distributions.
- • Develop an efficient design for collecting, recording, and storing data collected in the conduct of public health and medical research.
- • Develop sample size and statistical power calculations for basic study designs including those utilized in clinical trials.
- • Design efficient computer programs for study management, statistical analysis, as well as presentation using SAS and other programming languages.
- • Produce edited data sets suitable for statistical analyses.
- • Apply advanced informatics techniques with vital statistics and public health records in the description of public health characteristics and in public health research and evaluation.
- • Perform analyses of stated hypotheses using a variety of analytical tools including analysis of variance, multiple regression, nonparametric statistics, logistic regression, multivariate analyses, and methods for analyzing rates and failure-time data.
- • Interpret results of advanced statistical analyses and use these results to make relevant inferences from data.
- • Produce working tables and statistical summaries describing research in health science.
- • Develop written presentations based on intermediate to advanced statistical analyses for both public health professionals and educated lay audiences.
- • Develop oral presentations based on intermediate to advanced statistical analyses for both public health professionals and educated lay audiences.
In the second year of the program, the student is required to execute a program of independent research under the direction of a faculty member. This project usually falls into one of these main areas:
- 1. Development of a new statistical theory or methodology.
- 2. A computer-based simulation study to illustrate properties of an existing method.
- 3. The analysis of a real data set.
The student is required to prepare a written thesis under the supervision of a Biostatistics faculty member. Upon completion of the thesis, the student will make an oral presentation of the results of his/her work.
For specific instructions on the organization, mechanics, and publication of the thesis, see Appendix II: Thesis Guidelines.
Chronic Disease Epidemiology Track (CDE)
There is a high demand for well-trained graduates in chronic disease epidemiology. This track provides intensive training in epidemiology and research methods for medical and health care professionals, or others seeking the skills necessary to conduct epidemiological research in their professional practice.
Applicants should have a basic understanding of quantitative science and statistics. It is recommended that candidates have strong science backgrounds and demonstrated competency in statistical analysis and logical thinking. Applicants from rigorous programs in the biological or social sciences will be given preference. At a minimum, applicants should have one year of course work in statistics or the equivalent prior to enrolling in this program. Summer courses are available to fulfill this requirement. Full-time applicants are preferred.
The CDE track consists of required and elective course work and satisfactory completion of the Capstone experience. A total of ten courses is required (excluding the Ethics course, EPH 600b; and Seminar, CDE 525). It is expected that this program will be completed during a single academic year. Students with an M.P.H. or relevant graduate degree may be eligible to substitute advanced courses for some of the required courses. Written permission of the DGS is required prior to enrolling in substitute courses.
*In the capstone course CDE 617b, the student is required to develop a grant application that is deemed reasonably competitive by the instructor. An alternative to this capstone course is an individualized tutorial (CDE 600a or b), in which the student completes a manuscript that is suitable for submission for publication in a relevant journal. †These courses do not count toward the ten required courses. Course number Course title Course units Suggested electives (three courses are required):
Suggested electives (three courses are required):
Upon receiving an M.S. in the Chronic Disease Epidemiology track of Public Health, the student will be able to:
- • Explain and apply the terminology and definitions of epidemiology.
- • Evaluate the scientific merit and feasibility of epidemiologic study designs.
- • Describe the epidemiology of common chronic diseases.
- • Synthesize information from a variety of epidemiologic and related studies.
- • Design epidemiologic studies at an intermediate level.
- • Analyze data and draw appropriate inferences from epidemiologic studies at an intermediate to advanced level, using a variety of analytical tools including multivariate logistic regression, Poisson regression, linear regression, and survival analysis.
- • Write an epidemiologic research proposal or a publishable epidemiologic article.
- • Identify, interpret, and use routinely collected data on disease occurrence.
- • Review, critique, and evaluate epidemiologic reports and research articles at an intermediate level.