Written comprehensive examinations are administered at the end of the first and the second academic years to gauge proficiency in both theoretical and applied statistical methods. Exams are held once a year and are typically administered about one month after the end of the spring semester e.g. the last week of May. First-year exams are graded as ‘Pass at the PhD level’, ‘Pass at the MS level’, or ‘No Pass’. Second-year exams are graded ‘Pass at the PhD level’ or ‘No Pass’. Conditional Passes are are possible but rare. Students who do not pass at the desired level on their first attempt may make a second attempt the following year.
The first-year comprehensive examination tests mastery of applied and theoretical concepts appropriate for the Master of Science degree. First-year exams consist of a one-day written theoretical exam (~6 hours), half-day written applied exam (~3 hours), and a take-home applied exam (~24 hours). The focus of the first-year exam is Probability Theory, Statistical Inference, Principles of Biostatistics, and Regression methods. Students must pass this exam in order to obtain a MS degree or to proceed in the PhD program.
The second-year comprehensive examinations test for mastery of applied and theoretical statistical concepts appropriate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. The second-year exam is a one week take home exam covering advanced probability, advanced inference, advanced methods in generalized linear models, statistical learning, longitudinal data analysis and survival analysis. Students must pass this exam in order to proceed in the PhD program. PhD students who fail to pass the second-year comprehensive examination are eligible for a MS in Biostatistics if they complete the requisite degree requirements.
Sample comprehensive exams can be found here .
Doctoral Qualifying Oral Examination
Information about the doctoral qualifying oral examination is here .