Admission Frequently Asked Questions

Please read below for answers to our most common questions.

General application questions

UC San Diego's Graduate Division has more information about University Admission Requirements and other frequently asked questions about the application process.  You can find more information here.

Why should I pursue a graduate degree in biostatistics?

There is strong demand for graduate-level biostatisticians in academic medical centers, in government agencies, and in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Biostatistics graduate programs rank highly among the PhD granting institutions of Statistics or Biostatistics listed in US News and World Report rankings, with three of the top five programs being Biostatistics programs. The UCSD degree will be distinguished by its close integration of training in rigorous data science theory and methods, training in practical collaborative skills, and use of important data from many areas of the biomedical sciences.

How should I decide between a degree in bioinformatics and biostatistics?

While the areas of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics have some overlap, they appeal to different students and they lead to very different training. The students in Bioinformatics are required to have an engineering or biological sciences background; students in Biostatistics are required to have a mathematical and statistical background and often also are familiar with clinical research or public health. Bioinformatics primarily uses tools from computer science for dealing with and processing high-throughput data with an emphasis on ‘omics. Biostatistics has a unique emphasis on rigorous, reproducible and quantifiable inference. It uses modeling approaches from mathematical statistics and probability to identify rigorous and efficient approaches to all kinds of data. Biostatistics is useful in complex settings where there is a temporal or spatial component, where there are correlated variables, or where data are pooled across related experiments or studies. Use of formal biostatistical principles can often identify more powerful approaches to data analysis and can quantify the uncertainty associated with inference from data.

Do you have a minimum GRE requirement?

We do not have a minimum GRE score requirement for admission. We do not screen applications by GRE scores; scores are interpreted in the context of the entire application. However, the applicant pool is very competitive with very competitive GRE scores.

Are TOEFL scores required?

TOEFL scores are required of international students, unless a student has or is expecting to receive a BS or MS from a U.S. university or from an institution where the primary language is English.

How many students do you admit to the PhD program?

We plan to admit 4-6 students each admission cycle.

How many students do you admit to the MS program?

We plan to admit 10-15 students for our first cohort.

Do you accept MCAT scores as substitution for the GRE?

No. We only accept GRE scores.

What kind of courses/background make for a strong PhD applicant?

Our PhD program has a fairly rigorous mathematical statistics requirement: 6 of our required courses are taught in the mathematics dept. Hence, an undergraduate or MS degree that emphasizes math would be a huge strength. Here are some upper division math undergrad courses taught at UCSD that we would consider adequate training for admission to our program: 102, 120, 140ABC, 170, 181AB

What kind of courses/background make for a strong MS applicant?

We recommend that applicants have at a minimum a year of calculus (including multivariate calculus); a course in linear algebra; a course in statistical or computer programming (or documented equivalent experience); and two courses in statistics, biostatistics, and/or probability, including one upper division course.  Practical knowledge of a statistical package (e.g., R, SAS, SPSS, Stata) and/or experience with programming are also needed.
If you still have questions, please contact us.