Skip to main content

Doctor of Philosophy

The PhD program equips students with knowledge and skills to develop and apply statistical methodology to the fields of healthcare and life sciences. Our PhD program empowers students to become experts in developing and utilizing statistical methods for medical research and health sciences, through modern didactic coursework and real-world team science. Graduates of our PhD program obtain rewarding career opportunities in academia, pharmaceuticals, government agencies, and healthcare institutions. Graduates can also influence healthcare policy, improve patient outcomes, and enhance the understanding of complex biological processes, making a significant impact on public health.

"My experience in the Biostatistics program at Vanderbilt was enriching and comprehensive. I was exposed to a broad spectrum of education in statistics—from robust theoretical foundations to practical, real-world applications. The faculty's wide-ranging interests ensured that I was never far from someone who was at the top of my field of interest. Most significantly, the relationships formed with fellow students have evolved into a valuable network. Many have become esteemed faculty members, while others have secured prominent positions in industry or government." Nicholas Strayer, PhD 2020, Senior Software Engineer - Shiny, Posit PBC

Degree Requirements

  • Earn 72 total credits
    • 10 core courses and associated labs, if any
    • 8 or more elective courses and associated labs, if any
    • BIOS 8999 (Non-candidate Research)
    • BIOS 9999 (PhD Dissertation Research)
  • Fulfill the responsible conduct of research requirement
    • Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) training
    • BIOS 8004 (Ethical Principles and Practices for Biostatisticians) or IGP 8004 (Responsible Conduct in Research)
  • Maintain an overall grade point average of 3.0 or better
  • Attend 80% of department seminars
  • Pass MS/PhD series 1 and PhD series 2 comprehensive examinations at the PhD level
  • Complete oral qualifying examination and dissertation defense (seminar)
  • Submit a dissertation within 4 years of completing the qualifying examination
  • Submit publication plan
  • Serve as a teaching assistant for at least 4 approved courses

See the program handbook for more information.

Typical Schedule

Year 1
Fall Spring Summer
BIOS 6311 and BIOS 6311L BIOS 6312 and BIOS 6312L BIOS 8999 (0 hours)
BIOS 6341 and BIOS 6341L BIOS 6342 and BIOS 6342L
BIOS 6301 or elective BIOS 6321 or elective
BIOS 6306 or elective IGP 8004 if BIOS 8004 not taken
BIOS 8004 Series 1 comprehensive examinations
Year 2
Fall Spring Summer
BIOS 7345 and BIOS 7345L BIOS 7346 and BIOS 7346L BIOS 8999 (0 hours)
BIOS 7361 BIOS 7362
BIOS 7351 BIOS 7352
BIOS 7323 or elective BIOS 7330 or elective
Series 2 comprehensive examinations
Year 3
Fall Spring Summer
Advanced electives Advanced electives BIOS 9999 (0 hours)
BIOS 8999 BIOS 8999
Teaching assistantship Teaching assistantship
Oral qualifying examination
Year 4
Fall Spring Summer
BIOS 9999 BIOS 9999 BIOS 9999 (0 hours)
Teaching assistantship Teaching assistantship
Year 5
Fall Spring
BIOS 9999 BIOS 9999
Dissertation defense

See the course descriptions page for more information.