Biostatistics Major, B.S.P.H.

Department of Biostatistics

3103 McGavran-Greenberg Hall, CB# 7429

(919) 966-7262

Michael R. Kosorok, Chair

Jane Monaco, Program Director

Biostatistics is a discipline concerned with the improvement of human health through the application and advancement of statistical science. The undergraduate major in biostatistics prepares students to apply quantitative skills to a variety of health-related issues, including clinical trials, environmental studies, population studies, and studies involving patterns of disease, disability, and death. The curriculum consists of a strong mathematical foundation; advanced coursework in statistical applications, theory, and computing; and an understanding of the public health sciences.

The Department of Biostatistics in the Gillings School of Global Public Health was the first undergraduate program in the country to offer an undergraduate degree in biostatistics. The degree provides an excellent foundation for continued studies (primarily graduate school in biostatistics, epidemiology, or medical school) and a strong foundation for employment in the health care industry for highly qualified students interested in quantitative methods applied to public health and medicine.

Admission to the program is required.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the biostatistics program, students should be able to:

  • Formulate and conduct tests to explore the validity of a statistical dataset
  • Demonstrate knowledge of elementary statistical theory
  • Formulate and perform a descriptive and/or inferential analysis of a study or related dataset and interpret the findings in an appropriate manner
  • Develop an efficient design of an experiment or observational study in the health sciences
  • Apply quantitative knowledge to a variety of health and related matters that deal with the physical environment, the population, patterns of disease/disability/death, and the effects of health services
  • Apply his/her knowledge and skills at the entry management level of government health agencies, pharmaceuticals, contract research organizations, and nonprofit health-related agencies


In addition to the program requirements listed below, students must:

  • attain a final cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a C (not C-) or better in prerequisite, core public health, and department-required courses

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
Public health core courses:
ENVR 600Environmental Health3
EPID 600Principles of Epidemiology3
HBEH 600Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health3
HPM 600Introduction to Health Policy and Management3
Other core courses:
BIOS 500HIntroduction to Biostatistics3
BIOS 511Introduction to Statistical Computing and Data Management4
BIOS 545Principles of Experimental Analysis3
BIOS 550Basic Elements of Probability and Statistical Inference I4
BIOS 664Sample Survey Methodology4
BIOS 668Design of Public Health Studies3
BIOS 691Field Observations in Biostatistics1
Additional Requirements
BIOL 101
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory 1, H
COMP 110Introduction to Programming 1, H3
or COMP 116 Introduction to Scientific Programming
MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I 14
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II 14
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables 1, H4
BIOL 201Ecology and Evolution 2, H4
or BIOL 202 Molecular Biology and Genetics
MATH 381Discrete Mathematics H3
MATH 521Advanced Calculus I H3
or MATH 528 Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences I
MATH 547Linear Algebra for Applications3
Total Hours66

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.


required before matriculation into the program


have prerequisites, BIOL 101 and CHEM 101 or CHEM 102

Special Opportunities in the Department of Biostatistics

Dual Bachelor’s–Master’s Degree Program

Undergraduate students with appropriate math and biostatistics backgrounds have the opportunity to pursue a dual bachelor’s–graduate degree. This dual B.S.P.H.–M.S. program identifies a coherent course of study for students to complete some of the M.S. degree requirements in biostatistics while pursuing a B.S.P.H. degree with a major in biostatistics. More information is available on the department Web site.

Honors in Biostatistics

The Department of Biostatistics offers an honors program in which undergraduates can pursue individualized study and undertake a special project. Students who have a grade point average of 3.3 or higher are eligible to participate in honors research and write an honors thesis. Faculty members’ readiness to guide the students in their honors work governs the final selection of those allowed to enter the program. Students completing an honors program must register for BIOS 693H and BIOS 694H.

Experiential Education

The required course, BIOS 664, fulfills the General Education experiential education requirement. In addition, students are required to take BIOS 691 (usually during the fall semester of the senior year). This course consists of an orientation to and observation of six or more major nonacademic institutions in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park area that employ biostatisticians, including contract research organizations, nonprofit companies, and government agencies. BIOS 691 does not fulfill the General Education experiential education requirement.

Laboratory Teaching Internships and Assistantships

Students are encouraged to investigate part-time employment during the academic year and full-time employment during the summer after their junior year with members of our faculty and their collaborators on current research and service projects.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to participate in the University’s study abroad programs in the summers or before matriculating to the B.S.P.H. in biostatistics program. Identification of a study abroad program early in the student’s career is necessary for course planning purposes.

Undergraduate Awards

The Theta Chapter of Delta Omega honors up to two students among  the department’s graduates with an award of excellence. Awards are presented in the spring as part of the biostatistics awards ceremony. Among the recent graduates, a notable proportion of students has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Undergraduate Research

Students are encouraged to consider doing senior honors research and should consult individual faculty members for opportunities. However, some students choose to take advantage of the myriad part-time employment opportunities with our faculty members on their research and service projects or opportunities within nearby Research Triangle Park.