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Comprehensive examinations

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 typically administered about one month after the end of the spring semester (e.g., the last week of May). First-year exam grades are “Pass at the PhD level,” “Pass at the MS level,” or “No Pass.” Second-year exam grades are “Pass at the PhD level” or “No Pass.” A “Conditional Pass” is 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 exams test mastery of applied and theoretical concepts appropriate for the Master of Science degree. They consist of a one-day written theoretical exam (~6 hours), a half-day written applied exam (~3 hours), and a take-home applied exam (~24 hours). The exams focus on probability theory, statistical inference, principles of biostatistics, and regression methods. Students must pass these exams to obtain a MS degree or to proceed in the PhD program.

The second-year exam tests for mastery of applied and theoretical statistical concepts appropriate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. It 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 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 degree requirements.

Sample exams can be found here.

Doctoral Qualifying Oral Examination

Information about the doctoral qualifying oral examination is here .