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Frequently Asked Questions - Master's

This page will help answer many of your questions specific to the University of Rochester Master's programs in Statistics and Biostatistics. A separate list of frequently asked questions applies to all Master's programs in the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

If you have a question that is not answered on either of these pages, please contact the Department's Graduate Program Administrator Karin Gasaway. We look forward to receiving your application!

MA Statistics and MS Biostatistics General Questions

1. What are the main differences between the MA Statistics and the MS Biostatistics programs?

This chart outlines some of the main differences between the two Master's degrees offered in the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology. Details about each program can be found on their respective web pages.

  Master of Arts in Statistics Master of Science in Biostatistics

Preparation for a PhD program or a position as a Master’s-level statistician

Preparation for a position as a Master’s-level statistician

Emphasis Theory Applications
Prerequisites Strong background in mathematics:
  • 3 semesters of calculus**
  • Linear algebra
  • Probability
  • Mathematical statistics
  • Real analysis (encouraged)
  • Statistical methods (recommended)

**Through multivariable calculus

(Note: These are the same prerequisites as the Statistics PhD program)
Substantial background in statistics:
  • 3 semesters of calculus**
  • Linear algebra
  • Probability
  • Mathematical statistics
  • Applied statistics (recommended)

**Through multivariable calculus

Credits 32 credits 32 credits
Program Length 1.5 years (common)
1 year (possible option)
1 year (including summer)
Degree requirements completed Late December (1.5 year)
Late June (1 year option)
Late August
Typical # of courses for degree 8 courses total during Fall and Spring semesters. No summer courses. 6 courses total during Fall and Spring semesters + Capstone Project in Summer
Additional requirements

Written 4-hour closed-book comprehensive examination in June

Written report related to Capstone Project, oral presentation, and oral examination


2. Who will be my academic advisor?

The Master's Program Director (Dr. Tongtong Wu) serves as the academic advisor for all students in the MA Statistics and MS Biostatistics programs. She meets with each student individually at least once every semester and again during the summer to provide guidance on course selection and overall progress towards the degree. The academic advisor’s role is separate from a MS Biostatistics Capstone Project advisor.


3. What is the average class size for department courses?

Most of our department classes are small (typically about 10 students) and are held in the Saunders Research Building. All BST courses are taught by faculty from the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology. Courses in the Master's programs are shared with our PhD Statistics program. We encourage our Master's and PhD students to study together.


4. What types of career or professional development opportunities are available?

Our faculty and staff are committed to helping students succeed. The relatively small size of our department allows students to interact closely and build strong connections with professors and other graduate students. The majority of our MA Statistics graduates have continued on to PhD programs, both in our department and elsewhere. MS Biostatistics graduates typically begin or advance in their careers after graduation.

The School of Medicine and Dentistry offers myHub, a centralized home for students and trainees to explore career, internship, and academic support opportunities. Free services include one-on-one assistance with CV/resume/cover letter writing, goal setting, career exploration, networking, internships, job search strategy, and interviewing. The weekly Opportunities to Explore email newsletter keeps students informed of upcoming events, workshops, seminars, and other topics.

5. Is this a STEM program?

Yes, our Master’s degrees are classified as STEM programs under CIP codes 26 and 27.

6. Is there an accelerated degree option for University of Rochester undergraduate students?

We offer a 4+1 accelerated degree option that allows current and eligible University of Rochester undergraduate students the ability to complete up to three graduate-level BST courses during their senior year that count towards both their Bachelor's degree and either a Master of Arts in Statistics or a Master of Science in Biostatistics degree from the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Enrolling students will be assigned a biostatistics faculty advisor, in addition to their undergraduate academic advisor. If you are interested in learning more, please send a copy of your unofficial transcripts or grades from UR Student to Karin Gasaway.


7. Do you offer scholarships?

The Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology offers partial tuition scholarships to selected applicants. Details can be found in the links below.


8. Do you accept part-time students?

Most students in the department are full-time, but part-time study is possible for both the MA Statistics and MS Biostatistics programs. Please note that all courses for the degrees are offered only in-person during business hours. We do not offer online or evening courses. Historically, most part-time students in the department have been full-time University of Rochester employees taking one or two courses per semester. Applicants considering part-time study are encouraged to contact Karin Gasaway before submitting the application. International students who require a F-1 student visa to study in the United States must maintain full-time status.

9. Can University of Rochester employees use UR tuition benefits?

We are unable to advise students on their eligibility for tuition benefits. Please carefully review the University of Rochester Tuition Benefits Plan and contact their office directly with questions.


10. I’m missing one or more of the listed prerequisites. Will you consider courses from Coursera, edX, or similar online instruction platforms?

Usually the prerequisites for our programs cannot be satisfied by Coursera or similar online instruction platforms. The Admissions Committee expects a transcript showing a final grade based on attending classes, completing homework, passing exams, etc. We often see applicants that have completed a few courses at a local community college as a non-matriculated student after earning their Bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field.