The MSc Biostatistics Thesis option appeals to students who may be interested in exploring a research area in depth, or if they are considering a career in academia, the master’s thesis might provide a good indication of their ability to write a dissertation as part of a future PhD program.

Although a student will begin their master’s program in the Course-only option, it is possible for a student to switch to a Thesis option. Students interested in making this change are required to do so no later than the end of their first term in the program (by December). Students are required to complete the Program Transfer form and the Thesis Approval form, and submit them for approval to the MSc Biostatistics Program Director.

Program Requirements

In addition to the thesis, students registered in this option require 4.0 FCE (equivalent to 8 half courses) to graduate.  Students following this option are expected to complete the following 4.0 FCE required courses (see table below), as well as develop a research proposal and complete a thesis under the close supervision of a faculty member within the Division. Electives are not required in this option.

Required Courses: (4.0 FCE) FCE
CHL5004H: Introduction to Public Health Science 0.5
CHL5207Y: Laboratory in Statistical Design and Analysis 1.0
CHL5209H: Survival Analysis I 0.5
CHL5210H: Categorical Data Analysis 0.5
CHL5250H: Biostatistics Seminars 0.5

Plus one of either:

CHL5226H: Mathematical Foundations of Biostatistics
STA2112H: Mathematical Statistics I


Plus one of either:

CHL5223H: Applied Bayesian Methods
STA2212H: Mathematical Statistics II



There is no departmental funding available for students in the MSc Biostatistics Thesis option, but they may apply for funding opportunities for which they are eligible, such as OGS.  The awards are outlined on our website on the Student Awards & Funding Opportunities page. Students are notified, via the student listservs, when applications are being accepted for each of the various awards.

Choosing a Supervisor and Supervisory Committee

Choosing a faculty supervisor is an important decision for students considering a thesis-based master’s degree. The SGS Supervision Guidelines for Students provides helpful information in this regard. It details, for example, how to choose an appropriate supervisor, as well as an effective supervisory committee. It also highlights the individual responsibilities of the student, the primary supervisor and members of the supervisory committee. It reminds students of the importance of clarifying expectations as early as possible in their thesis program, in order to minimize problems. Finally, an appendix to this document offers a useful checklist for students.

Arranging a Thesis Defense

The final step in the completion of the MSc Biostatistics Thesis option program is the oral defense. Please visit the PHS Academic Policies webpage for defense procedures and guidelines, information on how to arrange the oral defense, and the required Thesis Defense Membership form.