Written comprehensive examinations will be administered at the end of the first and second academic years to gauge proficiency in both theoretical and applied statistical methods. First year comprehensive examinations will test for mastery of applied and theoretical statistical concepts appropriate for the Master of Science degree. Students must pass this exam in order to obtain a MS degree or proceed in the PhD program. Second year comprehensive examinations will test for mastery of applied and theoretical statistical concepts appropriate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. In both the first and second year examinations, the applied portion of the exam will be broken into two parts: an in-class written examination and a take-home data analysis, which will require the student to write a report and present their findings to members of the Examination Committee. Grading will be on the following scale: Fail, Pass at the MS level, Pass at the PhD level. In order to be eligible to graduate with a MS degree, students must pass the first-year examination at the MS level or higher. In order to be eligible to take the doctoral qualifying oral examination, pre-doctoral candidates must pass both the first- and second-year examinations at the PhD level. Examinations are held once a year; students who fail or do not pass at the desired level must wait until the following year to try again. PhD students who fail to pass the comprehensive examination at the PhD level are eligible for a MS in Biostatistics if they complete all of the necessary requirements.
The first-year comprehensive examination typically is not waived for incoming students with a MS in statistics or biostatistics from another institution. However, it may be waived with the approval of the DGS and the Admissions Committee. The DGS is ultimately responsible for administering the comprehensive examinations; however the Examination Committee will compose, grade, and ensure their uniformity and fairness.