MS Vs. MPH in Biostatistics

Feb 12, 2018

Students interested in pursuing an MS or MPH in Biostatistics should consider their personal interests and career goals. Compare and contrast the two graduate programs, common coursework and admissions requirements.

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There are many different institutions that offer a Master of Science in Biostatistics and/or a Master of Public Health in Biostatistics. Although these two degree programs do focus study on biostatistics, they vary in the coursework and are generally designed to target different kinds of students. Learn about some of the differences between the two degree programs, as well as several of the common admissions requirements for each.

Comparing a Master of Science in Biostatistics to a Master of Public Health in Biostatistics

Master of Science in Biostatistics

Master of Science (MS) in Biostatistics degree programs are typically designed for students with a stronger mathematical background who wish to focus their careers in data analysis and/or pursue a doctorate degree. These degree programs are usually offered on-campus, can be completed in as little as 1 year and may offer concentrations or emphasis in areas like data science analytics, statistical bioinformatics, population health analytics, statistical methods or statistical genetics. Some of these degree programs may require students to complete a thesis, capstone project or research paper prior to graduation. Although elective courses may vary based on a student's chosen emphasis, common core courses address topics in biostatistical methods, biostatistical consulting, data analysis, data management, epidemiology, statistical programming and statistical theory. Graduates of the degree program often work as biostatisticians or in other data research and analysis positions within public health, academia and private industries.

Master of Public Health in Biostatistics

A Master of Public Health (MPH) in Biostatistics is usually considered a terminal degree, and these public health programs are broader and offer an emphasis in biostatistics for those working in various areas of public health who would like to further develop their research and quantitative analysis skills. Most of these degree programs are offered on-campus, but may offer some online courses, and usually take 2 to 3 years to complete. Many programs require students to complete a practicum and/or final project prior to graduation to apply what they have learned to real-world scenarios. Students in these programs typically need to complete core courses in biostatistics that cover topics like biostatistical methods, data analysis and design of health studies. They also complete core courses in public health that discuss topics in epidemiology, public health, global health, environmental and occupational health and biostatistical applications in public health. Graduates of this degree program can also work as biostatisticians, but may pursue other consulting, teaching or research positions, like analytical epidemiologists, quality improvement analysts or clinical research coordinators.

Common Entrance Requirements

MS in Biostatistics and MPH in Biostatistics programs typically require applicants to submit the appropriate applications and fees for their specific program, as well as official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation/references and a statement of purpose. MS in Biostatistics degree programs usually require applicants to hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. They also often require applicants to have prior coursework in calculus, algebra and/or statistics, and any experience with statistical software is helpful. Some students in MPH in Biostatistics degree programs may already hold a previous graduate degree and might have prior coursework in biological science, in addition to statistics and mathematics.

Despite both programs usually being offered through an institution's school of public health, an MS in Biostatistics and an MPH in Biostatistics are unique degree programs that allow students to prepare for different types of careers. Both degree programs require coursework in biostatistics, but an MS program focuses on biostatistical data analysis, while MPH programs give a broader education in the field of public health.

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