Biostatistician education consists of intense academic work in science and math. The road to becoming a biostatistician can take between eight and nine years of college work and hands-on research.
High School Preparatory Classes
Biostatistician programs at the college level focus a great deal on science and math, so those who would like to pursue this career path should take as many of these classes as possible while in high school. Advanced placement courses are preferred, as these can more adequately prepare students for the work they will do while pursuing higher education. Courses that help develop written and verbal communications skills are also helpful including English composition and public speaking. An ACT score of 15 or better is recommended in order to be admitted to a college program.
Undergraduate Math or Science Degree
Most biostatisticians earn a Bachelor’s degree in either science or math. A Bachelor’s degree in math could require courses such as an introduction to computer programming and a foreign language in addition to several math classes. Those pursuing a Bachelor’s in science may be required to take advanced science courses such as physics along with a foreign language. It normally takes around four years to earn this degree at a cost of $14,400 to $28,600 each year for housing, tuition and fees. Book can run as much as $600 to $1,800 extra per year. Students should maintain a 2.0 or better grade point average in order to be accepted into graduate school.
Graduate Degree: Obtaining a Master’s in Biostatistics
Before working as a biostatistician, most people elect to obtain a graduate degree, which can take approximately two years after earning a Bachelor’s degree. Some of the courses required to earn this degree can include physiology, neurobiology, biophysics and longitudinal analysis. The cost of obtaining a Master’s degree ranges from around $40,000 to $50,000 per year for housing, books, tuition and related fees. Students can also pay an additional $20 to $100 each year for health insurance. Many times, the amount owed can be reduced by working as a teaching assistant or research associate.
Earning a PhD in biostatistics typically takes between three and four years. While earning a doctorate degree, students will primarily focus on classroom work during the first half of their program and may perform a great deal of research during the second half of their studies. Some classes normally required for this degree include statistical theory, biomedical science, categorical data analysis, survival analysis and statistical inference. A comprehensive written examination is required before graduation. Upon passing this exam, students can take the candidacy examination for their doctorate degree, which will allow them to complete the dissertation that is needed for this honor.
After completing a doctorate degree, on-the-job biostatistician training will be needed in order to prepare workers for the particular industry they are employed in. This normally takes a few months to complete, after which time employees are ready to mentor new up-and-coming biostatisticians.