Brown launches fully online master’s degree in biostatistics

An online version of the School of Public Health’s biostatistics master’s program, with an emphasis on health data science, will offer learners nationally and around the world an opportunity to gain valuable training and skills.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — To serve a broad audience of learners and meet a pressing need for well-trained biostatistics professionals across the globe, Brown University is launching a fully online biostatistics master’s program.

Designed and developed by the Brown University School of Public Health and the School of Professional Studies, this 20-month degree program aims to provide working professionals with a strong foundation in biostatistical and health data science methods, and rigorous training in applied skills. The goal is to train future leaders in the field to meet the growing demands of the health care industry.

The online master’s in biostatistics, health data science program will provide learners with the same core biostatistical skills as Brown’s rigorous campus-based program. The program’s emphasis on health data science is designed to allow learners to develop highly sought-after foundational knowledge in health data science.

Biostatisticians play a central role in biomedical and public health research and practice, said Tao Liu, an associate professor of biostatistics who will direct the online program. Liu said that since he came to Brown in 2006, the numbers of biostatistics faculty members and master’s students have more than quadrupled.

“Biostatistics is a dynamic and rapidly growing field, and the changes at Brown reflect that,” said Liu, who is affiliated with the Brown Center for Statistical Sciences and Data Science Institute and also directs the Research Methods Core of the Brown Alcohol Research Center on HIV. Liu’s research focuses on health data science, so he is particularly excited about the online program’s focus, which will include courses that address emerging topics like deep learning methods and the influence of “big data" on the health care sector.

The program will emphasize how to apply statistical methods to analyze real-world data, Liu said.

“We will not only train people who can develop statistical tools, but we’ll also provide training for how to employ existing quantitative methods in the most efficient ways to address complex real-world problems,” Liu said.

The online degree program will build on the success of Brown’s online master of public health. Both offer flexibility and customization to non-traditional learners who are unable to travel to Brown’s campus, said Jennifer J. Nazareno, the associate director of the online MPH program, an associate professor of behavioral and social sciences at the School of Public Health, and the associate dean of academic innovation at the School of Professional Studies. The biostatistics program is designed to develop experts and leaders who will make critical contributions across fields in human health and the life sciences, she said.

“When the inaugural online MPH program enrolled students from 33 states and 8 countries, we realized how much more efficient we became in line with Brown’s focus on bringing in folks from different locations,” Nazareno said. “With this relatively unique online degree program, we hope to likewise attract working professionals who are interested in not only building skills and knowledge in biostatistics and health data science, but also advancing their careers.” 

The program consists of nine online courses, including a capstone project, and can be completed in as few as 20 months. Students will interact regularly with Brown faculty members as well as classmates from local, national and international locations. On their own schedules and in a flexible format, they will have the opportunity to engage with faculty-created coursework such as interactive multimedia, recorded lectures and demonstrations, guest lecture videos and discussion boards. There will also be an optional weekly virtual meeting with instructors and peers, which will be recorded and available for access at any time. 

The first cohort will begin in Spring 2025. The program is currently seeking applicants with a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds from around the world, Nazareno said, and individuals with at least two years of professional work experience will make for highly competitive applicants.

Additional information on the program is available at