Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology


The Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology is designed to produce an epidemiologist with in-depth knowledge of methodology and analytic skills.

The program provides preparation in methodologic and applied epidemiology, emphasizing the use of advanced design and analytic techniques to problems of etiology, human biology, public health and evidence-based medicine. Applications are encouraged from those with strong quantitative skills who have completed an undergraduate or graduate degree in the biological sciences, public health, medicine, allied health, or related fields.

As a condition of admission, students must hold a Master’s degree in a related discipline (e.g., mathematics, statistics, epidemiology, public health) and have completed a Master’s thesis. Students entering the program with a relevant Master’s degree that does not require a thesis (e.g. Master of Public Health) will be assigned an administrative or research mentor upon entering the program who will evaluate their quantitative and writing skills before the student takes the screening exam.

Application Deadlines

December 1st


Program at a glance

Fourteen units of core course work are required in year 1 as preparation for the screening exam (assuming students have completed PM 510L and PM 512 or comparable classes from MS training). Additional units of track-specific course work are required in year 2 or after. 

A total of 60 units are required for completion, which may be fulfilled by any approved electives, plus dissertation research units. 

After passing the screening exam, all students must enroll in at least two semesters of PM 610: Graduate Seminar in Biostatistics. The first semester of PM 610 is typically taken before the Qualifying Examination and the second semester of PM 610 before the final dissertation defense.

Core Coursework (14 Units)

Screening Exam Core Courses (14 Units)

Epidemiology Tracks (11-12 Units)

Students choose one track: Cancer Epidemiology, Genetic Epidemiology, Environmental Epidemiology, Clinical Trials, or General Epidemiology and Methods.

General Epidemiology and Methods

Includes students who choose to design specific class electives with their adviser, tailored to their unique research interests.

Electives (34-35 Units)

In addition to the required courses, the remaining required units may be selected from any of the courses below.

Electives will be determined by the student’s needs and interests.  When appropriate, courses not listed below may be chosen from the University course offerings with approval from the student’s adviser and Program Director.  Sufficient familiarity in computer languages to operate major software packages for data management and analysis is required.

Screening Exam and Doctoral Dissertation

The Screening Examination will be taken at the end of the first or second year after students have completed their core classes and covers material learned in these classes and the core knowledge of epidemiologic theory and applications. Prior to the screening examnation a mentor who will serve on the qualifying exam committee must be identified. The screening examination will consist of an applied and theory component and will be conducted in class over two to three days. The written component will be drawn from the core courses. A student failing the screening examination may be given a second opportunity to retake either one or both portions. Students failing the examination for the second time will terminate with the MS degree upon satisfactory completion of 37 units and an acceptable master’s thesis.



Victoria Cortessis, PhD

Director, Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology program

Program Director

Victoria Cortessis, PhD

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