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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 five specialization tracks: Biostatistics (46 credits), Community and Behavioral Health Promotion (48-49 credits), Environmental Health Sciences (45 credits), Epidemiology (49 credits), or Public Health Policy (48 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 Biostatistics (3 credits)
PH 703: Environmental Health Sciences (3 credits)
PH 704: Principles and Methods of Epidemiology (3 credits)
PH 705: Principles of Public Health Policy and Administration (3 credits)
PH 706: Perspectives on Community and Behavioral Health (3 credits)
PH 708: Health Systems and Population Health (3 credits)
PH 733: Overview of Qualitative Methods for Public Health (1 credit)
PH 790: Field Experience in Public Health (3 credits)
PH 791: Leadership in Public Health (1 credit)
PH 800: Capstone in Public Health (2 credits)

Required Courses (9 credits)

PH 711: Intermediate Biostatistics (3 credits)
PH 712: Probability and Statistical Inference (3 credits)
PH 718: Data Management and Visualization in R (3 credits)

Electives – Choose four (12 credits minimum)

PH 714: Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology (3 credits)
PH 715: Applied Categorical Data (3 credits)
PH 716: Applied Survival Analysis (3 credits)
PH 717: Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis (3 credits)
PH 720: Special Topics in Biostatistics (1 – 3 credits)
PH 721: Introduction to Translational Bioinformatics (3 credits)
PH 723: Design, Conduct and Analysis of Clinical Trials (3 credits)

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.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, biostatistician jobs are expected to grow 31% from 2019 to 2029. This makes it one of the top ten fastest-growing jobs in the U.S.

Biostatisticians can expect to make a starting salary of approximately $60,000 per year. The average salary for biostatisticians is $85,645. Source:

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.