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2014-2015 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Biostatistics - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences section in this catalog.


Statistics is a discipline that develops and utilizes tools for making decisions in the presence of uncertainty. Statistics is utilized in many fields; however, when data is collected in the life sciences and medicine, we use the term biostatistics to distinguish this particular application of statistical concepts and methods. A biostatistician has academic training and/or work experience in defining research problems, formulating rational methods of inquiry, and gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data in the life sciences and medicine.

Research activities for a biostatistician cover the full range of studies that take place within the life sciences and medicine. These include clinical trials, as well as data from other preclinical, genetic and epidemiology studies. Also included are population-based health surveys of various types and evaluations of health promotion programs. Opportunities are also available for biometrical research related to problems in agriculture wildlife, and natural resources (e.g., data analyses for ongoing wildlife and water quality studies).

The objective of our M.S. program in biostatistics is to prepare professional biostatisticians who are capable of taking leadership in the application of statistical methods to the design and analysis of health research and biomedical studies and to the planning and evaluation of health services programs. Career opportunities are found in government, private industry, medical research institutions, and universities. Demand for biostatisticians is high, and graduates have their choice of a variety of attractive job offers.

Students can enter our M.S. program from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds. Some applicants pursue a degree in biostatistics directly after completing undergraduate studies. Other applicants pursue the study in biostatistics after years of experience as a medical or health professional. To the extent possible, the curriculum of each student will be tailored to his or her background and interests.

Upon completion of the M.S. in biostatistics, the student will be prepared to function as a statistical consultant in the application of statistics to the health or medical research. This will necessitate that he or she receives training in both statistical methodology and the life sciences. As a result, our biostatistics program incorporates coursework in biology, computer science and information systems, and the health professions and sciences. In addition to building upon the strengths of the Grand Valley faculty and our existing curricula, our program also integrates the regional health providers and scientific community through the required internship experience. Finally, our graduates will be trained in the preparation of reports, presentations and publications resulting from health science studies.

The following program is available:

Master of Science in Biostatistics

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