MPH Concentration: Biostatistics-Epidemiology


Epidemiology is the study of disease and disability including its distribution, occurrence, determinants and controls in human populations. Biostatistics involves research and management focused on guiding the design, analysis, interpretation and presentation of health science data. With over 50 faculty with expertise in biostatistics and epidemiology, USC is a leader in biostatistical and epidemiological training for academia, government and biomedical research. This is an extremely exciting time in the world of biomedical research with sequencing data from Human Genome Project available, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) accessible, and ongoing discoveries in the biological sciences for new risk factors, treatments and prevention of disease. We are delighted to be able to offer MPH students a comprehensive set of courses that teach different approaches to understanding the distribution and determinants of disease in populations in order to generate knowledge that can be used to improve public health.

Application Deadlines

Priority: December 1st
Final: April 1st

October 1st

March 1st


Concentration at a glance

MPH students in this concentration will take the public health core courses plus 24 units of concentration-specific coursework (16 units of concentration core courses + 8 units of elective courses) ranging in topics that include data analysis, statistical programming, research methods, cancer research, genetics, and bioinformatics.

Concentration Core Courses (16 Units)

PM 511aL Data Analysis (4 units)

Major parametric and nonparametric statistical tools used in biomedical research, computer packages including SAS. Includes a laboratory session.

Prerequisite: PM 510

PM 511bL Data Analysis (4 units)

Statistical methods for analysis of categorical data including dichotomous, ordinal, multinomial and count data, using Stata package. Includes a laboratory session.

Prerequisite: PM 511a


In addition, students will choose two of the following to complete their core coursework:

PM 527 Epidemiology of Infectious Disease (4 units)

Survey of natural history of infectious disease, methods of disease control and outbreak investigation, and an overview of the epidemiology of injury.

Prerequisite: PM 512

PM 529 Environmental Health: An Epidemiological Approach (4 units)

An overview of environmental health, identifying issues in assessing effects of exposure on health and potential interventions for reducing adverse health risks.

Prerequisite: PM 512

PM 536 Program Evaluation and Research (4 units)

Overview of concepts, tools, data collection, analysis methods and designs used to evaluate health promotion programs. Examples from substance abuse prevention, family planning and reproductive health programs.

PM 537 Chronic Disease Epidemiology (4 units)

Overview of causative factors and demographic distribution of major chronic diseases in the western world. Epidemiologic concepts, methods and research design as applied to chronic disease prevention will be emphasized.

Prerequisite: PM 512

Electives (8 units)

Elective options can be found on the concentration Course Plan.

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Why study biostatistics and epidemiology?

  • To learn to use statistical procedures, techniques and methodology to identify health trends.
  • To learn to use the concepts and tools associated with biostatistics and epidemiology to determine what causes disease or injury, what the risks are, who is at risk and how to prevent further incidences.
  • To identify and understand trends that influence disease.
  • To evaluate new treatments for disease.
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What types of work will students be able to do after graduating?

  • Apply methods learned to design and analyze case-control and population-based studies.
  • Identify risk factors associated with different diseases.
  • Perform outbreak investigations.
  • Perform statistical analysis of public health programs.
  • Identify health trends within communities.
  • Apply knowledge and skills learned to determine causes of disease and injury.

Careers in the Field

What are some job titles that graduates can seek in this field?
  • Program Manager
  • Database Manager
  • Program analyst
  • Epidemiology analyst

Explore MPH Concentrations


In a time of ongoing discoveries in the biological sciences for new risk factors, treatments and prevention of disease, students in this concentration learn different approaches to understanding the distribution and determinants of disease in populations.

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Community Health Promotion

This concentration prepares community health practitioners to assess the needs of populations and to design, implement and evaluate health promotion programs for diverse audiences.

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Global Health

Students in this concentration build skills to effectively strengthen global, regional, national and local public health systems, enhance public health preparedness and emergency response, implement effective policies and programs, and protect and improve global health as a whole.

Health Services and Policy

Students in this concentration focus on health care systems, governmental and organizational decisions plans, and actions that affect the health of populations.

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