Graduate Academic Programs

Doctoral Degree Program (PhD)

Epidemiology Major

Description of Program

For each degree program and area of specialization within each program in a school of public health, there shall be clearly stated competencies that guide the development of educational programs. Competencies define what a successful learner should know and be able to do upon completion of a particular program or course of study (CEPH, 2005, p13). To graduate, a student in the Ph.D. in Epidemiology must demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of basic and advanced concepts of epidemiology.
  • Apply basic and advanced principles of epidemiology to answering research questions.
  • Comprehend basic ethical and legal principles pertaining to the collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of epidemiologic data.
  • Exhibit proficiency in advanced analytic techniques.
  • Apply advanced quantitative methods to study the interaction of human behavior, population characteristics and the physical environment.
  • Explain the critical differences between epidemiologic descriptive and analytic study designs, the measures that can be estimated from each, and their strengths and limitations.
  • Describe how to select an appropriate study design for a specific research question or health problem.
  • Evaluate the evidence in favor of and against the likelihood that an observed association in epidemiologic studies is causal using a set of criteria.
  • Define the concept of the multifactorial nature of disease.
  • Translate epidemiologic data into practice and program recommendations.
  • Exhibit proficiency in grant-writing and protocol development and excellence in scientific writing.
  • Conduct a systematic critical assessment of published epidemiological and clinical studies and present these findings to a variety of audiences.
Degree Requirements

Course requirements for this degree are prescribed by an advisory committee for each individual student. Degree requirements include:

  • A minimum of 90 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree are required.
  • A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for graduation.
  • A minimum grade of C is required in each course used to satisfy the requirements of the course prescription.

The following courses or their equivalents must be completed, either as prerequisites, or as required courses by all Ph.D. students in the School of Public Health - Bloomington.

  • SPH-E 651 Epidemiology (3 cr.) This course may be counted toward the 90 credits for the degree as a course in the major, minor, or electives, as described below.
  • SPH-Q 501 Introduction to Statistics in Public Health (3 cr.) This course or its equivalent may not be counted toward the 90 credits for the degree.
  • SPH-X 505 Principles and Foundations of Public Health (3 cr.) This course may be counted toward the 90 credits for the degree as a course in the major, minor, or electives, as described below. Students who have previously completed an MPH degree from an accredited school of public health or accredited public health program are exempt from this requirement. Students who are completing requirements for an MPH degree concurrent with the doctoral degree are also exempt.
  • SPH-X 590 Introduction to Research in Health, Kinesiology and Recreation (3 cr.) This course may be counted toward the 90 credits for the degree as a course in the major, minor, or electives, upon approval of the committee.

The 90 required credits are arranged as follows on a Ph.D. student's course prescription:

  • Research Skills (9 credits minimum). A minimum of 9 credits of coursework providing required skills to conduct research, such as advanced courses in biostatistics. These credits count toward the 90 credits for the degree. Courses counted in this area required a minimum grade of B.
  • Major Area of Study (30 credits minimum). A minimum of 30 credits in the major area of study. These courses must be taken within the School of Public Health. Courses transferred from previous graduate work outside the School of Public Health, if within the major area of study, can be used to fulfill the major areas of study requirement, contingent upon the committee’s approval.
  • Minor Area of Study (9 credits minimum). A minimum of 9 credits of coursework in a designated area outside the department in which the major is being pursued.
  • Electives (0 to 28 credits). Elective credits may range between 0 and 28. An optional second minor may be included in the elective credit hours.
  • Dissertation (20 – 30 credits)
Special Opportunities

Students have the opportunity to develop skills by participating in research activities independently or in collaboration with faculty members and other graduate students. Through funded associate instructor (AI) appointments, most doctoral students also acquire essential skills and experience in teaching various health topics in different settings. Students are strongly encouraged to publish research results in professional journals and via presentations at national conferences. A limited number of fellowships and scholarships are available to the best qualified students.


The growing aging population will increase the need for scientists skilled in the research and prevention of disease. The rapidly expanding health field will also spur the need for researchers who can provide information to help governments, health agencies, health care providers and communities deal with epidemics.

The salary range, $38,175 - $136,237, reflects the actual salaries earned (adjusted for inflation using the national CPI - Bureau of Labor Statistics) within one year of graduation as reported by the most recent national survey of graduates conducted by ASPH

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