Syllabus and General Information



The goal of this course is to introduce graduate students in the biological sciences to the fundamental concepts and statistical methods necessary to plan, conduct, and interpret effective experiments.




PLS120 or equivalent (e.g. ASE120)





The class is based on and all homework and exams require the statistical software package SAS (we are sorry but we do not have the capability to grade homework in R). There are a number of computer labs on campus with SAS installed (Hutchison 73 and 75; and PES 1137), and they are available to you when not in use by other classes. There is also a virtual lab available using your Kerebros Login at: It works best during the evenings and on weekends (there are a limited number of licenses). Some departments (e.g. Plant Sciences) also have SAS available via network server for department members. These are perfectly viable options for this class. That being said, if your personal computer has an appropriate operating system (see box below), we recommend for your own convenience that you obtain a SAS student license for your machine.


SAS versions and operating system compatibilities (we are using SAS 9.4)

Mac - The only version of SAS for Macs is SAS 6.12. SAS 6.12 will only work on MacOS 7.5.3 up to MacOS 9. This software will not work on MacOS X or higher.

Windows SAS 9.4 is compatible with both 32 and 64 bit versions for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Linux - SAS 9.4 is compatible with both 32 and 64 bit Linux versions.


To obtain a student license, go in person to the MU Bookstore and place an order with the Computer Shop. Know your operating system and be very clear about which version of SAS you need. Orders take roughly 2 days to process, at which point you will receive a set of CDs to install. The license costs $50 and is valid through 6/30/15.




The course consists of two 1.5-hour lectures (TR 9:00-10:20 am, Bowley 101), one hour of homework-based discussion (T 1:10 2:00 or 2:10 3:00 pm, PES 1137), and one hour of computer laboratory (R 4:10-5:00 or 5:20-6:10 pm, Hutchison 73) per week. Grades are based on one in-class quiz (questions will be provided in advance), two exams and nine homework assignments / problem sets:


                              Homework                       25%

In-class quiz 5% (Jan. 29, 9 AM)
                              First exam                        35% (Feb. 12 and due Feb. 17, 9 AM)
                              Second exam                   35% (March 12 and due March 17, 5 PM)




1. Introduction to the principles of experimental design
2. Distributions, hypothesis testing, and sample size determination
3. Fundamentals of analysis of variance (ANOVA)
4. Orthogonal contrasts
5. Means separations
6. Randomized complete block design (RCBD)

7. Latin squares
8. Data transformation
9. Introduction to factorial experiments
10. Fixed, random, and mixed models
11. Unbalanced designs
12. Split plot designs and repeated measures
13. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA)

14. Nonparametric methods

Click here for the Course Schedule




The following campus computer labs have the SAS software installed:



For on-campus computer room availability and hours of operation, click here.




Jorge Dubcovsky. Office hours Fridays 2:00 4:00 PM (Robbins 122).


Miguel Macias Gonzalez ( Homework and SAS programming questions. Office hours TUE and THR 11:30 AM to 1:00PM (PES 1137)


Jake Uretsky ( ). Homework grading questions. Office hours TUE 11:30AM to 12:30 PM (PES 1137).



Principles and Procedures of Statistics. R.G.D. Steel, J.H. Torrie & D.A. Dickey. McGraw-Hill, Publisher, 3rd Edition, 1997.


The book is out of print, but we have obtained copyright permit from the editor; copies may be found in the textbook area of the MU bookstore.



Other useful references on Experimental Design:


  • Box, G. E. P.; Hunter, W. G.; Hunter, J. S. 1978. Statistics for Experimenters; An Introduction to Design, Data Analysis, and Model Building. Wiley.
  • Cochran, William G.; Cox, Gertrude M. (1957).  Experimental Designs. John Wiley and Sons, New York.
  • Little, Thomas M.; Hills, F. Jackson (1978).  Agricultural Experimentation. John Wiley, New York.
  • Snedecor, George W; Cochran, William G. 1980. Statistical Methods (7th Ed.). The Iowa State University Press.
  • Sokal, Robert R.; Rohlf, F. James (1995) Biometry. (3rd Ed.) W.H. Freeman and Company. New York.





General SAS Help

Useful sections:

      SAS/STAT (good general introductions and detailed procedures descriptions)



Other SAS introductory texts

Cody, Ronald P.; Smith, Jeffrey K. (1997).  Applied Statistics and the SAS Programming Language. 4th Ed. Prentice Hall, New Jersey

Delwiche, Lora D.; Slaughter, Susan J. The Little SAS Book, a primer.1995. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA.

Recommended: Littell, Ramon C.; Freund, Rudolf J.; Spector Philip C. SAS System for Linear Models. 3rd Ed. SAS Series in Statistical Applications.



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Last updated: January 2015