Feb 20, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Biostatistics (PhD)

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The department offers a degree program leading to the PhD in Biostatistics. The program is designed to produce biostatisticians who will have in-depth knowledge of statistical theory and methodology and the ability to apply this knowledge creatively to statistical problems in the biological and health sciences. All students will enroll in a set of core courses that cover both biostatistical theory and applications. Students will then choose from one of four tracks that will allow them to develop expertise in a specific area. The available tracks are: (1) biostatistics theory; (2) statistical genetics; (3) environmental statistics; (4) clinical trials.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 60 units of graduate study is required for the PhD degree; a maximum of 19 of these units may be from research and dissertation. In preparation for the qualifying examination, students are required to take all remaining core and track-specific courses.

Screening Procedure

In preparation for the screening examination, all students must take four core courses: PM 511a , PM 511b  and PM 522a , PM 522b . A student failing the screening examination will either terminate or will terminate with the MS degree upon completion of an acceptable thesis.

Qualifying Exam Committee

A formal qualifying exam committee will consist of at least five faculty members. The committee chair and at least two additional members must be affiliated with the student’s program. At least three members of the committee must be tenured or tenure track.

Qualifying Examination

The written portion of the qualifying examination will comprise testing on track-specific course content and focus on the student’s dissertation topic. An oral examination will ascertain the student’s competence in orally communicating this knowledge. Students must pass the written portions and the oral portions in order to pass the qualifying examination.

Annual Research Appraisal (ARA)

Beginning in the second year, each student must register for PM 610  (1 unit) and present an annual progress report to the program oversight committee. Once a dissertation topic has been selected, the annual progress report is presented to the student’s qualifying exam committee. Once the student has passed the qualifying examination and is appointed to candidacy, the annual progress report is presented to the student’s dissertation committee. The student will meet annually with the dissertation committee, until he or she graduates from the program. The oral portion of the screening examination as well as the qualifying examination and the defense examination will count as ARAs.

Dissertation and Oral Defense

Upon passing the qualifying examination the PhD candidate and his or her chair will recommend a three-member dissertation committee. The dissertation should be completed within two years and should be oriented toward a theoretical-methodological application to a problem area in the biological or health sciences. The oral defense is based on a rough draft or final version of the dissertation. The defense is administered by the dissertation committee, with other faculty invited to attend.

Recommended Courses: Statistics Genetics Track

Elective Courses

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