M.S. in Biostatistics, Clinical Research and Biostatistics Concentration

Program Overview

M.S. in Biostatistics, Clinical Research and Biostatistics Concentration

The Department of Biostatistics offers an M.S. in Biostatistics with a concentration in clinical research and biostatistics. Established in 1997, the program is specifically designed to satisfy the needs of those wishing to pursue clinical and/or health services research.

To become successful clinical researchers, clinicians need extensive training, not only in their clinical content area, but also in the design, conduct, analysis, interpretation, reporting and dissemination of clinical research. Likewise, clinicians wishing to successfully conduct patient-level outcomes or health services research need training in the skills required for this research. Common to both needs is training in clinical research and biostatistics — basic sciences for clinical medicine. Increasingly, also important to both is training in health economics and services organization — the anatomy and physiology of health care delivery.

To provide this training at VCU, courses from the standard M.S. in Biostatistics program, newly created courses and select courses are combined to create the M.S. in Biostatistics, Clinical Research and Biostatistics Concentration. Included in the program are required credit hours dedicated to directed, independent research. Students, under the guidance of a research advisory committee, will choose a research project according to their interests and intended career goals. Students are expected to develop a research proposal, select a research adviser and form a research advisory committee before the completion of 18 credit hours of core course work. The research advisory committee will be composed of a clinician as adviser, at least one additional clinician and at least one faculty member of the Department of Biostatistics. Results of the project are required to be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and presented to the research advisory committee.

Through these diverse and extensive experiences, the M.S. in Biostatistics, Clinical Research and Biostatistics Concentration program offers the most comprehensive approach to training the clinician-researcher.

Student Profile

Students in the M.S. in Biostatistics, Clinical Research and Biostatistics Concentration program have a variety of backgrounds. While many of our graduates hold the M.D. degree, we have also had students with Pharm. D., D.D.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Most students in the program enroll on a part-time basis. Taking one course in each of the fall, spring and summer semesters, part-time students can complete the degree requirements in fewer than four years.

Traditionally, we have four to eight M.S. in Biostatistics, Clinical Research and Biostatistics Concentration students in our graduate program at any given time. As illustrated in the courses sub-heading, these students are required to take at least three and possibly more courses with our Ph.D. and M.S. in Biostatistics students. The interaction between Clinical Research and Biostatistics students with “real world” clinical experience and our Biostatistics students with mathematical, statistical or computer science backgrounds is productive and mutually beneficial.

Our first student completed the M.S. in Biostatistics, Clinical Research and Biostatistics Concentration program in 2001. We now have 36 graduates, most of whom hold faculty appointments in academic medical centers.

Admission Requirements

  • M.D., D.D.S., Ph.D., Pharm.D. or equivalent health professional “terminal” degree from accredited college/university. Applicants with international M.D. degrees are considered on an individual basis.
  • Undergraduate GPA > 3.00
  • A letter detailing career goals and how the M.S. in Biostatistics, Clinical Research and Biostatistics Concentration program applies to those goals
  • At least three letters of recommendation

For more information regarding the application process, please visit the VCU application page or the Graduate Bulletin.

Course Work

M.S. in Biostatistics, Clinical Research and Biostatistics Concentration students will complete at least 34 semester credit hours. This includes 17 credits hours of core course work, 12 credit hours of elective courses and at least five credit hours of directed independent research.

Required Courses

BIOS 516 Biostatistical Consulting 1
BIOS 543 Graduate Research Methods I 3
BIOS 544 Graduate Research Methods II 3
BIOS 571 Clinical Trials 3
BIOS 572 Analysis of Biomedical Data I 3
BIOS 697 Directed Research in Biostatistics 5
EPID 571 Principles of Epidemiology 3
OVPR 601 Scientific Integrity 1

Examples of Elective Courses

BIOS 524 Biostatistical Computing 3
BIOS 553 Biostatistical Methods I 4
BIOS 554 Biostatistical Methods II 4
BIOS 573 Analysis of Biomedical Data II 3
EPID 600 Introduction to Public Health 3
EPID 603 Public Health Policy and Politics 3
EPID 650 Epidemiologic Methods for Research 3

Research Project

Students must also complete a research project, culminating in an academic manuscript submitted for publication. A research advisory committee must be formed to direct the student’s research project. The committee should consist of two clinicians familiar with the student’s area of research and a faculty member of the Department of Biostatistics. The student should be primarily responsible for the conceptualization, design, conduct, analysis and interpretation of the research project.

No Thesis

Students in the M.S. in Biostatistics, Clinical Research and Biostatistics Concentration program are not required to take a qualifying exam, nor are they expected to defend a thesis.

Additional Information

For more information about the M.S. in Biostatistics, Clinical Research and Biostatistics concentration, contact:

Russell Boyle, M.A.
Assistant Professor
Chair, Admissions Committee
Department of Biostatistics
Phone: (804) 827-2049
Email: russell.boyle@vcuhealth.org