What is the BSPH Biostatistics program?

The BSPH Biostatistics program in the Gillings School of Global Public Health is a program designed for students who have strong quantitative abilities and an interest in applications of math, statistics, and computer programming to health-related issues. The program prepares students for entry-level professional statistical and programming careers, and provides a firm academic base for subsequent studies in biostatistics, medicine and other fields.

Undergraduate students typically enter the BSPH Biostatistics program in the Fall of their junior (or third) year.

How do I apply?

Students typically apply in their sophomore (or second) year for Fall admission. The application deadline is typically January. The application consists of a transcript, two letters of recommendation (at least one recommendation from a math or statistics teacher), and a personal statement. Students must have a 3.0 GPA to apply.

What are the prerequisite courses and requirements for admission?

Complete MATH 231, 232, and 233 before an admission decision can be made.
Complete BIOL 101 and BIOS 101L and (COMP 110 or COMP 116) before entering the program in the Fall of the junior (or third) year.
Complete at least 60 credits and the vast majority of their General College requirements before entering the program in the Fall.
For students taking MATH 233 in the spring of their sophomore year, their application will be held until completion of that course at which time an admission decision will be made.
Minimum GPA of 3.0

How many students are admitted to the BSPH program?

In recent years, 30 to 40 students have been admitted per year.

What are the average SAT and GPA of admitted students?

The SAT or ACT are no longer required for admission. When it was required, average math SAT score was 750, average total SAT (math and reading) was 1440. Average GPA in recent years has been approximately 3.7.

How can I get more information about biostatistics in general and the BSPH in Biostatistics specifically?

The American Statistical Association and thisisstatistics.org are great resources about the field of biostatistics.

To learn more, a one page flyer about the program can be found here, and a course worksheet here. For more information about the BSPH Biostatistics Program, you can contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Jane Monaco at jmonaco@bios.unc.edu to learn about upcoming Info Sessions or Open Houses.

To hear firsthand experiences of students in the program, reach out to one of our BSPH Student Ambassadors here.

More information about careers in biostatistics and the BSPH program is available on Jane Monaco’s website.

What can I do to make my application competitive?

Emphasis is placed on performance in quantitative subjects. A strong applicant will have great grades in math courses, a high math standardized test scores (if available) and a strong letter of recommendation from at least one quantitative teacher. A strong applicant will also have a demonstrated desire to apply those quantitative abilities to improve human health in their “Statement of Purpose.” Other aspects that are considered include overall grades, course selection in the first two years of undergraduate classes, strength of other letters of recommendation, and future goals.

What can I do with a BSPH in Biostatistics?

In the past five years, students graduating from this program have typically done one of the following:

Graduate School in Biostatistics or a closely related field (recent graduate programs where BSPH Biostatistics students have enrolled: Harvard University, University of Washington, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Michigan, Columbia, Emory, University of Florida, North Carolina State University and Duke University Bioinformatics)

Medical School (recent medical schools where students have enrolled: Johns Hopkins, Duke University, University of Virginia, UNC-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University, East Carolina University, Commonwealth Medical College)

Worked in Biostatistical Fields (recent employers: Duke Clinical Research Institute, IQVIA, Rho, PPD, Stat-Tech, the Center for Biostatistics in AIDS Research at Harvard University, UNC-Chapel Hill Carolina Vaccine Institute, UNC-Chapel Hill Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Research Triangle Institute). Typical first jobs for BSPH Biostatistics graduates include Statistical Programmer, Statistician I or Programmer Analyst.

Can I double major in Biostatistics?

Yes. Students commonly double major in Biostatistics and another major in Arts and Sciences. For example, many students double major in Biostatistics and Math or Biostatistics and Biology. Most students minor in Mathematics if they decide not to double major in Mathematics. For students who decide to double major, Biostatistics is the primary major. For students who plan to pursue an academic career in biostatistics, a strong background in math is recommended.

Information about double majoring in another major in the Gillings School (Environmental Science and Engineering, Nutrition, Health Policy and Management) is here.

Can I get more information about the Dual Degree (BSPH/MS) in Biostatistics?

The Dual BSPH/MS Biostatistics program identifies a coherent course of study for students to complete some of the MS degree requirements in Biostatistics while pursuing a BSPH Biostatistics degree in accordance with University guidelines.

The degree requirements for each degree are unchanged. 

Students must FIRST be admitted to the BSPH in Biostatistics before applying to the Dual BSPH-MS Degree.

Some students in this Dual Degree program may be able to complete both degrees in less than the usual six years. However the advantages to the Dual Degree do necessarily include finishing the degrees faster. Rather, the Dual Degree program offers ‘increased flexibility’ to take courses earlier than usual and thus have room for electives in the student’s final semesters. More about the considerations for the Dual Degree is available in this flyer and here.

Is an interview required for admission to the program?

Although an interview is not required for admission, most students find it helpful to attend an Info Session or Open House to get more information about the program before admission.

Can I study abroad and still get a BSPH in Biostatistics?

Studying abroad is a valuable experience which students are encouraged to pursue during the summers or before they enter the BSPH in Biostatistics Program. Because the Biostatistics courses are ordered and offered in spring or fall only, studying abroad during the regular school year can be difficult once students are in the BSPH Biostatistics major. With careful advanced course preplanning, some students have been able to study abroad during their junior and senior years of the BSPH Biostatistics program, particularly if they have taken courses in the major during their freshman or sophomore years.

Do you accept transfer students?

Students who have already transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill for their sophomore (2nd) year complete the application process as described above.

Transfer students are eligible to apply to the Department of Biostatistics after completion of the equivalent of the departmental prerequisites and most, if not all, of the UNC-Chapel Hill General College requirements. Transfer students must be eligible for admission into UNC, as determined by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and have junior standing before the Gillings School of Global Public Health can render an admission decision. Students are encouraged to complete the undergraduate admissions application as early as possible (and before the February BSPH Biostatistics deadline). Applicants who are admitted to UNC-CH but not the BSPH Biostatistics Program should contact Undergraduate Admission about selecting a different major.

Who should I ask for letters of recommendation?

Students need two letters of recommendation; at least one of the letters should be from a math or statistics teacher. Students may ask a high school math or statistics teacher if they do not know their UNC-Chapel Hill quantitative professors well. While two letters from two college math or statistics professors would be ideal, the admission committee realizes many second-year students may not have this option.

Both references should be academic (teachers) or professional rather personal. Quantitative references (college or high school) are most highly weighted, followed by science teachers, followed by teachers from other subjects or professional references.

Can I be taking the required courses at the time I submit my application or do I have to already have them completed?

For students who have completed all the required courses when they apply, an admission decision is communicated in March.

If a student is enrolled in Math 233 when the application is submitted, the admission committee holds the application (makes no admission decision) until the grade for Math 233 is received in May. If a student is enrolled in Biology or Computer Science in the spring, usually an admission decision can be made by March.

Acceptances are conditional on successful completion of the spring semester courses, similar to the student’s previous record.

All the required courses should be complete by the end of the Spring semester in which the student applies.

Which biology courses/curriculum should students take to fulfill the biology requirement(s) for the BSPH in Biostatistics?  

It depends on when you entered UNC-CH, what courses you can get into, and how long the Biology Department continues to teach the “old” curriculum. We are all trying to be flexible during this transition period.

  • If you entered UNC-CH in Fall 2022 (or later), then follow the updated requirements: we require Biol 103 OR Biol 104. You should be allowed in the courses, and the updated curriculum will fulfill our requirements.
  • If you entered UNC-CH in Fall 2021 (or earlier), then you should fulfill the requirement with Biol 201 OR 202 assuming you can get into those classes, and they are being taught. We will be flexible with students and flexible with the Biology Department offerings.

Background: As of Fall 2022, the Biology Department introduced an updated curriculum and is phasing out Biol 201 and 202.  You can find more info here and here. The Biology Department is asking students who enter in Fall 2022 or later to take Biol 103/104 (rather than Biol 201/202).  

Can I take a course or two to see if Biostatistics is a good fit for me?

Bios 500H (Introduction to Applied Biostatistics- Fall only) is a great way to gain understanding of the biostatistics major. Instructor permission is required for enrollment. The prerequisites for Bios 500H are Math 231 and 232, and Bios 511 is a recommended (but not required) corequisite. This course is designed for undergraduate Bios majors (third-year students) as well as first and second- year students interested in exploring the major (including Honors students).

Bios 511 (Fall- SAS programming) is available, if there is space, with instructor permission for students who would like to learn about programming in biostatistics; however, in recent semesters, the course not had seats available for prospective students. Feel free to explore SPHG 600 (Intro to Public Health) or SPHG 620 (Exploring Public Health), to gain an understanding of the “big picture” of public health.

Many students find that their math courses are the best predictor about whether they would enjoy the Biostatistics major.

I am a first-year student. Can I apply to the BSPH Biostatistics program for matriculation in the Fall of my second year?

Such cases are unusual. We recommend that first-year students interested in applying discuss their plan with the Director of Undergraduate studies in the Biostatistics.

First-year students must have completed the prerequisites (Math 231/232/233, Biol 101/101L, Comp 110 or 116, at least 60 credits and almost all of their Gen Eds) by the end of the Spring semester of their first year. Particularly if students have not completed Math 233 before the Spring semester, they are encouraged to wait for the usual admissions cycle.

Sophomore (/second year) applications are prioritized, so freshmen may be asked to reapply if there is limited space. In order to be competitive, first-year students must have a truly outstanding application. If there are any reservations about the first-year student’s likelihood of success in the program, the admission committee will recommend that a student reapply in their second year when more grades are available. For a small number of talented first-year students who entered UNC-CH with many credits (especially in math courses), acceptance as a first-year student has allowed benefits such as increased flexibility and early graduation (3 or 3.5 years).

Last updated February 2022


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