Dr. Spencer Huang

The MPH biostatistics degree track builds on classic public health biostatistics skills and knowledge base and takes advantage of the expertise of UWM faculty in the areas of genetics, bioinformatics and big data science.

MPH biostatistics students get the opportunity to learn and apply statistical genetics in the context of complex disease study, high-throughput computing used in big data science, and applications in evidence-based, patient-centered outcome studies.

Program Type


Program Format

On Campus

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The Perfect Fit

“I enjoyed economics and I enjoyed math. I thought, how can I find a good match in the health world? And that’s when I learned about public health.

I could take those quantitative skills that I gained through my undergrad, and also my interest in promoting health, on a big scale in the health care world.”

Sarah Laurent, MPH-Biostatistics

Sarah Laurent walking near Lake Michigan in Milwaukee
Biostatistics student Sarah Laurent tells us why she chose a career in public health.

Biostatistics master’s coursework includes topics and material such as:

  • Interpretation of personalized and evidence-based medicine in the context of public health.
  • Basic understanding of genetics and epigenetics.
  • General “omic” approaches and concepts.

MPH Biostatistics (46 credits)

All students enrolled in the MPH program take a common set of core classes designed to give basic skills and knowledge of public health concepts. The core curriculum consists of at least 24-25 credit hours, including four credits for the Field Experience (3 credits) and Leadership in Public Health (1 credit) courses and a two-credit capstone seminar. In addition to the common core, students complete the required coursework in one of six specialization tracks (total program credits in parentheses): Biostatistics (46 credits), Community and Behavioral Health Promotion (48-49 credits), Environmental Health Sciences (45 credits), Epidemiology (49 credits), Public Health Policy (48 credits) or Nutrition and Dietetics (64 credits). Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better in order to progress through the program.

MPH Required Common Core Courses (24-25 credits)

PH 702: Introduction to Biostatistics3
PH 703: Environmental Health Sciences3
PH 704: Principles and Methods of Epidemiology3
PH 705: Principles of Public Health Policy and Administration3
PH 706: Perspectives on Community and Behavioral Health3
PH 708: Health Systems and Population Health3
PH 733: Overview of Qualitative Methods for Public Health1
PH 790: Field Experience in Public Health3
PH 791: Leadership in Public Health1
PH 800: Capstone in Public Health2

Required Courses (9 credits)

PH 711: Intermediate Biostatistics3
PH 712: Probability and Statistical Inference3
PH 718: Data Management and Visualization in R3

Electives — Choose four (12 credits minimum)

PH 714: Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology3
PH 715: Applied Categorical Data3
PH 716: Applied Survival Analysis3
PH 717: Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis3
PH 720: Special Topics in Biostatistics1-3
PH 721: Introduction to Translational Bioinformatics3
PH 723: Design, Conduct and Analysis of Clinical Trials3

Please note: All courses are subject to change. Please consult the Academic Catalog for the most up-to-date information.

Biostatistics track competencies

  1. Translate research objectives into testable hypotheses.
  2. Demonstrate a broad knowledge and understanding of statistical techniques used in public health studies and health-related scientific investigations.
  3. Identify and apply a variety of appropriate statistical methods for developing inferences about public-health-related questions.
  4. Demonstrate basic programming skills in multiple statistical software packages and data management and integration techniques for public health and big data projects.
  5. Formulate and produce graphical displays of quantitative information (e.g., scatter plots, box plots and line graphs) that effectively communicate analytic findings.
  6. Demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills when reporting statistical results to different audiences of public health professionals, policy makers and community partners.

Careers in Biostatistics

Biostatisticians work in hospitals and for health insurance systems, pharmaceutical companies, companies that produce health-related products and health nonprofits. Job prospects for new graduates with biostatistics master’s degrees are excellent, with typical starting annual salaries as high as $65,000, according to the American Statistical Association.

Chiang-Ching Huang
  • Professor, Biostatistics
Laleh Jamshidi
  • Assistant Professor, Biostatistics
Zhiyang Zhou
  • Assistant Professor, Biostatistics

Faculty Research Interests

  • Genetic determinants of common chronic disease (including heart disease, bleeding disorders, stroke and colorectal cancer).
  • Using genomic technologies and bioinformatic and biostatistical techniques to accurately predict risk and treatment response in cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Major molecular mechanisms and pathways that model disease progression.
  • Using biomedical informatics, mathematical modeling and simulations to characterize and predict the use of genetics in medical practice and, in particular, pathology.
  • Use of high-throughput genetic technologies, such as micro-arrays and next generation sequencers in the discovery and applications of genetics to complex diseases and environmental-gene development pathways.
  • Statistical methods and computational tools to identify genetic variants that influence the susceptibility to complex diseases such as cancer of the breast, colon/rectum, lung and prostate.