Biostatistics Major, B.S.P.H.

Department of Biostatistics

Visit Program Website

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 B.S.P.H. biostatistics curriculum consists of a strong mathematical foundation; advanced coursework in statistical applications, theory, and computing; and an understanding of the public health sciences.

The undergraduate major in biostatistics prepares students to apply quantitative methods to design studies, implement methods, analyze data, and interpret results across a range of disciplines. The degree provides an excellent foundation for continued studies (primarily graduate school in biostatistics, statistics, data science, or medical school). The job market for B.S.P.H. biostatistics graduates is strong, with previous students employed in a variety of fields including public health, pharmaceuticals, and medicine.

Admission to the program is required.

Student Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Perform descriptive and inferential data analyses to answer varied research questions (BIOS 500H)
  2. Interpret data analysis results for a variety of audiences (BIOS 500H)
  3. Use software appropriately in data collection, data management, and analysis (BIOS 511)
  4. Demonstrate the use of elementary statistical theory including the use of basic concepts of probability, random variation and common statistical probability distributions (BIOS 650)
  5. Demonstrate strong quantitative skills through the successful completion of  calculus, linear algebra, and discrete mathematics (MATH 233, MATH 347, and MATH 381)

In addition to these competencies, all BSPH biostatistics students meet the Public Health CEPH competencies through the Public Health Core coursework.

Prerequisite Courses Required for Admission

MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H4
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H4
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H4
BIOL 101
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
COMP 116Introduction to Scientific Programming3
or COMP 110 Introduction to Programming
Total Hours19

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


The undergraduate degree offered is the bachelor of science in public health (B.S.P.H.). Four majors are available to undergraduate students: biostatistics, environmental health sciences, health policy and management, and nutrition. Each of these combines features of a broad-based education with concentrated study in a specific public health discipline. The programs prepare individuals for preprofessional positions in health-related fields and provide a firm base for graduate study. Students are permitted to pursue two majors in the school. Students are subject to the requirements in place when they are admitted to the Gillings School of Global Public Health; consequently, requirements described in this catalog particularly apply to students admitted to the school during the 2020–2021 academic year. In addition to the information presented below please see the Gillings Program Search (GPS) for the most up to date information on the school.

Students who wish to obtain the B.S.P.H. degree typically spend two years in the General College of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (or in an equivalent core program of academic study elsewhere) and two subsequent years under the administration of the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Enrollment in the B.S.P.H. degree programs is limited. Typically a student is selected in the latter half of the sophomore year and admitted on a competitive basis for junior year entry to the major. The minimum recommended grade point average for admission to programs in biostatistics, environmental health sciences, health policy and management, and nutrition is 3.0.

For current UNC–Chapel Hill students, the initial step of B.S.P.H. application is available in ConnectCarolina under the "Apply Majors" tab.

Transfer students interested in biostatistics and health policy and management majors must apply through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions using the Transfer Common application. Transfer students interested in environmental health sciences and nutrition majors must be accepted to UNC–Chapel Hill first and then satisfy campus residency requirements during their first and/or second semester at UNC–Chapel Hill, and then apply as a current UNC–Chapel Hill student.

For high school seniors, our four majors participate in the University Assured Enrollment Programs under EXCEL@Carolina. Assured enrollment programs guarantee students a spot in an undergraduate major within one of Carolina’s professional schools or a spot in an accelerated undergraduate/graduate program. Programs include unique opportunities such as early access to classes, individualized mentorship, and career connections. For additional information, please visit EXCEL@Carolina.


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:
SPHG 351Foundations of Public Health3
SPHG 352Public Health Systems and Solutions4.0
EPID 600Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health3
Biostatistics courses:
BIOS 500HIntroduction to Biostatistics3
BIOS 511Introduction to Statistical Computing and Data Management4
BIOS 645Principles of Experimental Analysis3
BIOS 650Basic Elements of Probability and Statistical Inference I3
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 1, H4
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II 1, H4
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
or STOR 215 Foundations of Decision Sciences
MATH 347Linear Algebra for Applications3
MATH 521Advanced Calculus I H3
or MATH 528 Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences I
Total Hours63

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

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
BIOL 101
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
MATH 231 Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H 4
MATH 232 Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H 4
Hours 12
Sophomore Year
COMP 110
Introduction to Programming H
or Introduction to Scientific Programming
MATH 233 Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H 4
Hours 7
Junior Year
Fall Semester
BIOS 500H Introduction to Biostatistics (fall only) 3
BIOS 511 Introduction to Statistical Computing and Data Management (fall only) 4
MATH 381
Discrete Mathematics H
or Foundations of Decision Sciences
SPHG 351 Foundations of Public Health 3
EPID 600 Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health 1 3
Hours 16
Spring Semester
BIOS 645 Principles of Experimental Analysis (spring only) 3
MATH 521
Advanced Calculus I H
or Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences I
SPHG 352 Public Health Systems and Solutions 4
Hours 10
Senior Year
Fall Semester
BIOS 650 Basic Elements of Probability and Statistical Inference I (fall only) 3
BIOS 691 Field Observations in Biostatistics (fall only) 1
MATH 347 Linear Algebra for Applications 3
Hours 7
Spring Semester
BIOS 664 Sample Survey Methodology (spring only) 4
BIOS 668 Design of Public Health Studies (spring only) 3
BIOL 201
Ecology and Evolution H
or Molecular Biology and Genetics
Hours 11
Total Hours 63

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

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 research project in their senior year. 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 thesis 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 and nonprofit companies. 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 have 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.