Master of Science in Molecular Epidemiology


The Master of Science in Molecular Epidemiology is designed for students interested in statistical methods and biomedical research design. The program focuses on understanding and applying statistical methods for the design of biomedical research, understanding epidemiological study designs, and using and interpreting results from specialized computer software for the management and statistical analysis of research data. This program encourages applicants with undergraduate degrees in quantitative biological sciences or other related fields.

Application Deadlines

Priority: December 1st
Final: May 1st

October 1st

March 1st


Program at a glance

Typically completed in 2 years, the 38-unit degree consists of 4 epidemiology core courses (15 units), 3 to 7 biological sciences core courses (12 units), 1 to 2 elective courses (at least 3 units), directed research (4 units) and a master’s thesis (4 units). During the program, students gain an understanding of study design and statistical analysis and work with laboratories to gain hands-on experience in statistical and epidemiological methods, and molecular, genetic or population-based studies.

Epidemiology Core Courses (15 Units)

PM 511a Data Analysis (4 units)

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

PM 511b Data Analysis (4 units)

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

PM 512 Principles of Epidemiology (4 units)

Terminology/uses of epidemiology and demography; sources/uses of population data; types of epidemiologic studies; risk assessment; common sources of bias in population studies; principles of screening. 

PM 533 Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology (3 units)

Genetic principles; design and analysis of family studies; introduction to likelihood estimation; segregation and linkage analysis; biomarkers of exposure, susceptibility, and disease; laboratory methods; susceptibility genes; association and linkage disequilibrium. 

Biological Sciences Core Courses (12 Units)

Students take 3-7 biological sciences core courses. To see offerings, visit the USC Course Catalogue.

Electives (3 units)

For elective offerings, visit the USC Course Catalogue.

Directed Research (4 units)

Students conduct directed research in combinations of wet and dry labs, or dry labs only, in Population and Public Health Sciences, Biochemistry or Pathology.

Thesis (4 units)

The program culminates in a master’s thesis on a topic of the student’s choosing. The research consists of original work worthy of submission to a publication or peer-review journal. 

Full-time students begin working on their thesis at the beginning of their second year and register for the thesis courses over two consecutive semesters.

PM 594a Master’s Thesis (2 units)

PM 594b Master’s Thesis (2 units)

hands on keyboard

Master’s Thesis

The program culminates in a master’s thesis on a topic of the student’s choosing. The thesis provides a structure for the development of a plan to address a research problem and a suitable approach to the analysis and presentation of the results. The equivalent of one year of full-time effort must be devoted to research leading to a master’s thesis.

Mariana Stern, PhD

Mariana Stern, PhD

Director of the Master of Science in Molecular Epidemiology program

Program Director

Mariana Stern, PhD

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