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Master of Science in Public Health

The Master of Science (M.S.) degree program in Public Health (PH) is designed with an emphasis on mastering the skills in individual specialty areas within public health. Programs are currently offered in Biostatistics and Chronic Disease Epidemiology.

The length of study leading to the M.S. degree is one year full-time for the Chronic Disease Epidemiology track and two years full-time for the Biostatistics track. Part-time students must complete the degree within five years of matriculation.

The M.S. in PH is offered through the School’s affiliation with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The Graduate Studies Executive Committee (GSEC) and the director of graduate studies (DGS) are responsible for overseeing the progress of M.S. students.

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Biostatistics Track (BIS)

The M.S. in Biostatistics is a two-year program. It is designed to train students to meet the growing need in managed care organizations, medical research, and the pharmaceutical industry for graduates with technical skills in data analysis. In contrast to the more general M.P.H. degree, the M.S. degree emphasizes the mastery of biostatistical skills from the beginning of the plan of study. While graduates of this program may apply to the Ph.D. degree program, the M.S. degree is itself quite marketable as a terminal degree.

Degree Requirements

The Biostatistics track requires a minimum of 12 courses (excluding the Ethics course, EPH 600b; and BIS 525a and b, BIS 695c) plus a master’s thesis.

Curriculum

Required Courses

Course number

Course title

Course units

  • †BIS 525a and b
  • Seminar in Biostatistics

n/a

  • BIS 540a
  • Fundamentals of Clinical Trials

1

  • BIS 623a
  • Applied Regression Analysis

1

  • BIS 625a
  • Categorical Data Analysis

1

  • BIS 628b
  • Longitudinal and Multilevel Data Analysis

1

  • BIS 630b
  • Applied Survival Analysis

1

  • †BIS 695c
  • Summer Internship in Biostatistical Research

n/a

  • †EPH 600b
  • Research Ethics and Responsibility

n/a

  • *STAT 541a
  • Probability Theory

1

  • *STAT 542b
  • Theory of Statistics

1

*These courses are offered in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. †These courses do not count toward the twelve required courses.

In addition, students must complete five elective courses and a master’s thesis. Two of the electives must be in Biostatistics, chosen from the list below, and one must be in Public Health (not Biostatistics). Two additional electives are required and can be taken in any area relevant to the student’s interest.

Biostatistics electives are to be selected from these courses: BIS 557a, Computational Statistics; BIS 561b, Advanced Topics and Case Studies in Multicenter Clinical Trials; BIS 643b, Theory of Survival Analysis; BIS 646b, Nonparametric Statistical Methods and Their Applications; BIS 651b, Spatial Statistics in Public Health; and BIS 691b, Theory of Generalized Linear Models. Students demonstrating a mastery of topics covered by the required courses may replace them with more advanced courses but must receive written permission from the DGS prior to enrolling in the substitute courses.

Competencies

Upon receiving an M.S. in Public Health, with a concentration in Biostatistics, the student will be able to:

  • • Describe advanced concepts of probability, random variation, and commonly used statistical probability distributions.
  • • Develop an efficient design for collecting, recording, and storing data collected in the conduct of public health and medical research.
  • • Develop sample size and statistical power calculations for basic study designs including those utilized in clinical trials.
  • • Design efficient computer programs for study management, statistical analysis, as well as presentation using SAS and other programming languages.
  • • Produce edited data sets suitable for statistical analyses.
  • • Apply advanced informatics techniques with vital statistics and public health records in the description of public health characteristics and in public health research and evaluation.
  • • Perform analyses of stated hypotheses using a variety of analytical tools including analysis of variance, multiple regression, nonparametric statistics, logistic regression, multivariate analyses, and methods for analyzing rates and failure-time data.
  • • Interpret results of advanced statistical analyses and use these results to make relevant inferences from data.
  • • Produce working tables and statistical summaries describing research in health science.
  • • Develop written presentations based on intermediate to advanced statistical analyses for both public health professionals and educated lay audiences.
  • • Develop oral presentations based on intermediate to advanced statistical analyses for both public health professionals and educated lay audiences.

Master’s Thesis

In the second year of the program, the student is required to execute a program of independent research under the direction of a faculty member. This project usually falls into one of these main areas:

  • 1. Development of a new statistical theory or methodology.
  • 2. A computer-based simulation study to illustrate properties of an existing method.
  • 3. The analysis of a real data set.

The student is required to prepare a written thesis under the supervision of a Biostatistics faculty member. Upon completion of the thesis, the student will make an oral presentation of the results of his/her work.

For specific instructions on the organization, mechanics, and publication of the thesis, see Appendix II: Thesis Guidelines.

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Chronic Disease Epidemiology Track (CDE)

There is a high demand for well-trained graduates in chronic disease epidemiology. This track provides intensive training in epidemiology and research methods for medical and health care professionals, or others seeking the skills necessary to conduct epidemiological research in their professional practice.

Applicants should have a basic understanding of quantitative science and statistics. It is recommended that candidates have strong science backgrounds and demonstrated competency in statistical analysis and logical thinking. Applicants from rigorous programs in the biological or social sciences will be given preference. At a minimum, applicants should have one year of course work in statistics or the equivalent prior to enrolling in this program. Summer courses are available to fulfill this requirement. Full-time applicants are preferred.

Degree Requirements

The CDE track consists of required and elective course work and satisfactory completion of the Capstone experience. A total of ten courses is required (excluding the Ethics course, EPH 600b; and Seminar, CDE 525). It is expected that this program will be completed during a single academic year. Students with an M.P.H. or other related degrees may be eligible to substitute advanced courses for some of the required courses. Written permission of the DGS is required prior to enrolling in substitute courses.

Curriculum

Required Courses

Course number

Course title

Course units

  • BIS 623a
  • Applied Regression Analysis
  • 1
  • BIS 625a
  • Categorical Data Analysis
  • 1
  • BIS 630b
  • Applied Survival Analysis
  • 1
  • CDE/EMD 508a
  • Principles of Epidemiology I
  • 1
  • CDE 516b
  • Principles of Epidemiology II
  • 1
  • CDE 523b
  • Measurement Issues in Chronic Disease Epidemiology
  • 1
  • †CDE 525a,b
  • Seminar in Chronic Disease Epidemiology/Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • n/a
  • *CDE 617b
  • Developing a Research Proposal
  • 1
  • †EPH 600b
  • Research Ethics and Responsibility
  • n/a

Suggested electives (three courses are required):

  • BIS 511a
  • GIS Applications in Epidemiology and Public Health
  • 1
  • BIS 540a
  • Fundamentals of Clinical Trials
  • 1
  • BIS 561b
  • Advanced Topics and Case Studies in Multicenter Clinical Trials
  • 1
  • BIS 643b
  • Theory of Survival Analysis
  • 1
  • BIS 645b
  • Statistical Methods in Human Genetics
  • 1
  • CDE/EHS 520b
  • Case-Based Learning for Genetic and Environmental Diseases
  • 1
  • CDE 531a
  • Health and Aging
  • 1
  • CDE 532b
  • Epidemiology of Cancer
  • 1
  • CDE 533b
  • Topics in Perinatal Epidemiology
  • 1
  • CDE 535b
  • Epidemiology of Heart Disease and Stroke
  • 1
  • CDE 562a
  • Nutrition and Chronic Disease
  • 1
  • CDE 597a
  • Genetic Concepts in Public Health
  • 1
  • *CDE 600a or b
  • Directed Readings
  • 1
  • CDE 634b
  • Advanced Applied Analytical Methods in Epidemiology and Public Health
  • 1
  • CDE 650a
  • Introduction to Evidence-Based Medicine and Health Care
  • 1

*In the capstone course CDE 617b, the student is required to develop a grant application that is deemed reasonably competitive by the instructor. An alternative to this capstone course is an individualized tutorial (CDE 600a or b), in which the student completes a manuscript that is suitable for submission for publication in a relevant journal. †These courses do not count toward the ten required courses.

Competencies

Upon receiving an M.S. in Public Health, with a concentration in Chronic Disease Epidemiology, the student will be able to:

  • • Explain and apply the terminology and definitions of epidemiology.
  • • Evaluate the scientific merit and feasibility of epidemiologic study designs.
  • • Describe the epidemiology of common chronic diseases.
  • • Synthesize information from a variety of epidemiologic and related studies.
  • • Design and carry out epidemiologic studies, with minimal supervision.
  • • Analyze data and draw appropriate inferences from epidemiologic studies at an intermediate to advanced level, using a variety of analytical tools including multivariate logistic regression, Poisson regression, linear regression, and survival analysis.
  • • Write an epidemiologic research proposal or a publishable epidemiologic article.
  • • Identify, interpret, and use routinely collected data on disease occurrence.
  • • Review, critique, and evaluate epidemiologic reports and research articles at an intermediate level.

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