2012-2016 Examinations


PhD Examinations

In addition to required coursework, students in the Biostatistics PhD program must pass examinations as described below.

None of these examinations may be taken more than twice

  1. Qualifier I: This written examination covers material from the first year of coursework. This exam is the same for both the Statistics and Biostatistics PhD.After passing Qualifier I, the student will elect to follow either the Methodology or the Public Health specialization by completing the Specialization Declaration Form
  2. Qualifier II: Each Biostatistics specialization has a separate Qualifier II exam. In both cases, it is a comprehensive written examination testing knowledge acquired in the first two years of study and the ability to integrate and apply such knowledge. It will cover material from the first two years of coursework. It may not be attempted until Qualifier I has been passed. After passing the Qualifier II, the student chooses a dissertation adviser, who must be a Category P Biostatistics graduate faculty member. The student also forms a PhD Examination Committee, consisting of at least four graduate faculty members from the Department of Statistics, College of Public Health Division of Biostatistics, or other departments consistent with the student's interests. This committee is responsible for approving a Plan of Study Form to be filed with the Graduate Studies Committee within two semesters after passing Qualifier II.
  3. PhD Candidacy Examination: After completion of all required courses (as specified by the student's PhD Examination Committee), the candidate's PhD Examination Committee will administer and grade a PhD Candidacy Examination.After passing the Candidacy Exam, the student forms a Dissertation Committee. The student should meet with the committee at least twice a year to report his/her progress.
  4. Final Oral Examination/Thesis Defense: Once the student has made sufficient progress (as judged by the Dissertation Committee) on his/her dissertation to warrant holding the Final Oral Examination, the Doctoral Draft Approval/Notification of Final Oral Examination form must be filed with the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the actual Final Oral Examination/Dissertation Defense (form available on the Graduate School website). The PhD Dissertation Committee then conducts a two-hour oral examination in which the candidate discusses/defends his/her dissertation. The student must file the Application to Graduate Form (form available on the Graduate School website) with the Graduate School by the published deadline of the Graduate School. Students should consult the Graduate School website for the appropriate deadline.Students must pass the Final Oral Examination and submit a final, approved copy of the dissertation to the Graduate School within five years of being admitted to candidacy.

Qualifier II Details - Methodology Specialization

Currently under development

Qualifier II Details - Public Health Specialization

Content and Structure

The Second Qualifying Examination consists of two parts to be taken on consecutive days. The first part consists of a four hour closed-book exam testing basic principles in Biostatistics. The second part is an eight hour open-book exam broken up into two four hour sessions with an hour break for lunch. Part two will require students to analyze two real data sets and to generate two short reports summarizing their methods and findings.

The exam will cover material from the required courses for the Public Health Specialization. While it is not possible to provide an exhaustive list, the following services as a guideline for the topics covered on the exam. Any changes to the list of topics and reference books will be announced in advance of the exam.

  • Epidemiologic principles (odds ratio, relative risk, case-control and cohort studies, confounding, effect modification)
  • Multiple linear regression
  • Logistic regression (binary, ordinal, and multinomial responses, conditional logistic regression)
  • Generalized linear models
  • Survival analysis
  • Analysis of Repeated Measures Data
  • Nonparametric methods (Wilcoxon test, Kruskal Wallis Test, Friedman ANOVA)
  • ANOVA models and multiple comparison methods
  • Analysis of contingency tables
  • Probability and distribution theory
  • Maximum likelihood theory
  • Wald, likelihood ratio, and score tests
  • Large sample theory (central limit theorem, the delta method, Slutsky’s theorem)

 Recommended Reference Books

  • Aschengrau, A. and Seage, GR. III (2003), Essentials of Epidemiology in Public Health
  • Casella, G and Berger RL (2001) Statistical Inference, Second Edition.
  • Davis (2002), Statistical Methods for the Analysis of Repeated Measurements
  • Diggle, P.,  Heagerty, P., Liang, K-Y, Zeger, S. (2002).  Analysis of Longitudinal Data, 2nd Edition
  • Fitzmaurice, GM, Laird, NM, and Ware, JH. (2011) Applied Longitudinal Analysis, 2nd ed.
  • Hosmer D, Lemeshow S, Sturdivant, RX (2013).  Applied Logistic Regression, 3rd Ed.
  • Kalbfleisch, J.D. And Prentice, R. L. (2002). The Statistical Analysis of Failure Time Data, 2nd Edition
  • Klein and Moeschberger (2003), Survival Analysis
  • M. Kutner, C. Nachtsheim, and J. Neter (2004) Applied Linear Regression Models, 4th Ed
  • McCullagh, PM and Nelder, JA (1989), Generalized Linear Models, 2nd edition
  • Ross, S. (2010), Introduction to Probability Models, 10th edition, Academic Press
  • Vittinghoff  et al. (2012), Regression Methods in Biostatistics       

Study Assistance
Past exams and additional details are available to students here.