The Biostatistics track builds on the classic Public Health Biostatistics skill and knowledge base and takes advantage of special knowledge of its faculty in the areas of genetics, bioinformatics, network analysis, causal inference, and big data science. Students have the opportunity to learn and apply statistical genetics in the context of complex disease study, high throughout computing used in "big" data science, applications in evidence-based patient-centered outcome studies, and population-based epidemiological studies. Courses include 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; as well as classic Biostatistics topics such as Survival and Categorical data analysis.

Related Certificate

The Zilber College of Public Health (CPH) offers a Master of Public Health (MPH) with concentration in six tracks of study, a PhD in Public Health with a Concentration in Community and Behavioral Health Promotion, a PhD in Public Health with a Concentration in Biostatistics, a PhD in Environmental Health Sciences, and a PhD in Epidemiology.

Master of Public Health

The Master of Public Health (MPH) offered by the Zilber CPH is a professional master's degree program that provides students with a broad understanding of public health practice. Students in the MPH program can specialize in six distinct tracks of study: 1) Biostatistics, 2) Community and Behavioral Health Promotion, 3) Environmental Health Sciences, 4) Epidemiology, 5) Public Health Policy, and 6) Nutrition and Dietetics. The College also offers a coordinated MPH/MSW degree in collaboration with the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare.

Like most MPH programs, the Zilber CPH's program imparts knowledge and skills in each of these core disciplines in public health, helping prepare all students to analyze information and consider solutions to public health problems using a social justice lens at the community, institutional, and societal levels. Courses have been designed to teach program- and track-level competencies as defined by Zilber CPH faculty. Program-level competencies reflect key public health skills including systems thinking, ethics, analytical methods, communications/informatics, diversity/culture, leadership, and professionalism. In addition, students engage in a specific track of study, gaining deeper competency in one of the six areas. Upon graduation students are prepared for positions in a range of public/population health and healthcare settings and/or for doctoral-level study.

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements as well as the desired track of study requirements. The following steps must be met to be considered for admission to the MPH Program. These materials will be considered in a holistic admissions process with special attention to ensure a diverse student body.

  1. Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic experience and potential for graduate work in public health.
  2. CV or Resume.
  3. Address the following two short essay questions, limiting responses to no more than 500 words (approximately 250 words per question):
    • Describe how your professional, volunteer, and educational background has led you to seek a degree in public health.
    • How will your desired track of study help you reach your personal and professional goals in public health?
  4. International applicants must also meet admission standards set and monitored by UWM's Center for International Education.
  5. MPH applicants must use SOPHAS to apply. Applicants must select the track to which they are applying: Biostatistics, Community and Behavioral Health Promotion, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Public Health Policy, or Nutrition and Dietetics.

Credits and Courses

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 six specialization tracks (total program credits in parentheses): Biostatistics (46 credits), Community and Behavioral Health Promotion (48-49 credits), Environmental Health Sciences (45 credits), Epidemiology (49 credits), Public Health Policy (48 credits), or Nutrition and Dietetics (64 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 702Introduction to Biostatistics3
PH 703Environmental Health Sciences3
PH 704Principles and Methods of Epidemiology3
PH 705Principles of Public Health Policy and Administration3
PH 706Perspectives on Community & Behavioral Health3
PH 708Health Systems and Population Health3
PH 733Overview of Qualitative Methods for Public Health 11
PH 790Field Experience in Public Health (See following section for details) 23
PH 791Leadership in Public Health1
PH 800Capstone in Public Health (See following section for details) 32
Total Credits25

Required for students in the Biostatistics, Environmental Health Science, Epidemiology, and Nutrition and Dietetics Tracks. Community and Behavioral Health Promotion Track students who take a qualitative methods course and Public Health Policy Track students would be exempt.


Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory; may be taken for 1, 2, or 3 credits in a given semester. A total of 3 credits is required.


Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory; completed in the final semester of study.

Field Experience

The Field Experience enables students to apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to public health problems in a community context. Students work with their Faculty Advisor and college staff to identify a placement that matches their public health interests and career goals. Possible placement settings include a local health department, state health department, non-profit agency, hospital system, or research institute. Students in the Nutrition and Dietetics track will be provided with specific placement(s) by the program. The experience is a mentored placement engaging both a faculty advisor and a site preceptor. Students complete at least two products as agreed upon with the site preceptor. This course is offered in the summer, fall, and spring semesters.

Students complete three credits (80 contact hours per one credit, 240 hours total) with the organization. The specified competencies, scope of work, and final products for the organization are defined in a learning agreement, which is signed by the student, preceptor, faculty advisor and course instructor. Students must demonstrate attainment of at least five competencies, three of which must be Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) MPH Foundational Competencies (see Field Experience Handbook), and two of which are identified from the track competency sets.

The following two CEPH MPH Foundational Competencies are required of all students:

#16. Apply leadership and/or management principles to address a relevant issue (may include creating a vision, empowering others, fostering collaboration, and guiding decision making).

#19. Communicate audience-appropriate (i.e., non-academic, non-peer audience) public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation.

Students choose their third Foundational Competency.

Students enrolled in the Nutritional and Dietetics track will be required to demonstrate attainment of select competencies from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) during Field Experience in Public Health. Nutrition and Dietetics students will be required to meet the 3-credit requirement for Field Experience in Public Health in one semester and complete additional field experience program requirements in food systems management and medical nutrition therapy.

In addition, students take the one-credit Leadership Public Health course. This course is designed to give students the opportunity to apply three specific CEPH MPH Foundational Competencies related to the Field Experience. The Field Experience setting provides students with opportunities to integrate these competencies through their projects, observe professionals in their organizations and the community, and learn important skills in these three areas. The required competencies are:

#16. Apply leadership and/or management principles to address a relevant issue (may include creating a vision, empowering others, fostering collaboration, and guiding decision making).

#17. Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges (among parties with conflicting interests and/or different desired outcomes).

#21. Integrate perspectives from other sectors and/or professions to promote and advance population health (direct engagement between student[s] and individual[s] in a sector or profession other than public health to complete a task or solve a problem).

Students fulfill these competencies with readings and through a series of activities including case studies or scenarios/role playing exercises. Assessments for the leadership, negotiation and interprofessional team competencies include participation in the sessions and written papers. The Leadership in Public Health course is offered in the summer and fall semesters. All four Field Experience and Leadership course credits may be taken in one semester or spread out over two semesters.


The capstone requires students to integrate the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom, Field Experience, and/or lab into some aspect of professional public health practice. The capstone project is an opportunity for students to synthesize and demonstrate public health competencies. Capstone projects can vary by track and usually include analysis of information and data. The projects also include a comprehensive literature review as required by track.

Students work with their Faculty Advisor to write a project proposal the semester prior to the capstone reflecting the student's interests and career goals. Students then implement the project during their final semester of the program. The project has both written paper and oral presentation components. In addition, students attend several weekly seminars.

Biostatistics Concentration

Required Courses
PH 711Intermediate Biostatistics3
PH 712Probability and Statistical Inference3
PH 718Data Management and Visualization in R3
Electives (see table below)12
Total Credits21


Select four of the following courses:12
PH 714Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology3
PH 715Applied Categorical Data3
PH 716Applied Survival Analysis3
PH 717Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis3
PH 720Special Topics in Biostatistics:1-3
PH 721Introduction to Translational Bioinformatics3
PH 723Design, Conduct and Analysis of Clinical Trials3
Other courses as approved by advisor.

Additional Requirements

Faculty Advisor

Each student will be assigned a track-specific Faculty Advisor during Orientation week preceding the first semester. Faculty Advisors assist the student in the development of an individual Plan of Study designed to advance the career goals of the student and be consistent with the track curriculum. The Advisor plays an important role in connecting the Field Experience, Capstone, and career goals for each student. If deemed necessary, any student can petition to the Zilber Office of Academic and Student Affairs for a reassignment of Faculty Advisor. Program track faculty will make every effort to accommodate requests to give all students opportunities for success in the MPH Program.


Not required. See capstone for similar culminating experience.

Comprehensive Examination

Not required. See capstone for similar culminating experience.

Time Limit

The student must complete all degree requirements within seven years of initial enrollment.

Public Health MPH: Biostatistics Learning Outcomes 

Master of Public Health students in the Biostatistics Track can expect to:  

  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.  

Public Health MPH Learning Outcomes   

All graduate students in UWM’s Zilber School of Public Health can expect to:  

  1. Explain the foundational principles and historical perspectives that shape the field of public health.  
  2. Describe how multiple determinants, including socioeconomic, biological, behavioral, and environmental, and the interrelations among these determinants shape population health and health inequities.  
  3. Integrate principles of social and environmental justice within public health practice and research.  
  4. Employ ethical principles and protocols in public health practice and research.  
  5. Implement approaches to public health practice and research that recognize the social, cultural and environmental circumstances of individuals, communities and populations.  
  6. Utilize appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative methods in public health practice and research.  
  7. Apply interdisciplinary theories, research methods and best practices to address public health issues and promote population health.  
  8. Collect, synthesize and critically analyze information and data to identify and address public health issues and inform interventions.  
  9. Practice professionalism; demonstrated by integrity, respect, transparency, sound judgment, and constructive interactions with colleagues, community members, stakeholders and the public at large.  
  10. Demonstrate leadership and partnership skills that foster and support collaborations across diverse communities, settings and sectors.  
  11. Communicate effectively about public health issues with diverse audiences using a variety of strategies and modalities.  
  12. Advocate for the public’s health and health equity.