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.
Common Ph.D. Degree Requirements
  • A minimum of 90 graduate-level 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 major, minor, and elective requirements of the course prescription.
  • A minimum grade of B is required in each course used to satisfy the research skills requirement of the course prescription.

Common Prerequisite
All Ph.D. degree students in the School of Public Health-Bloomington are required to complete a basic, graduate-level statistics course, such as SPH-Q 501, Introduction to Statistics in Public Health (3 cr.). This course, or its equivalent from another Indiana University department or from another university, must be completed as a prerequisite to major course work. Credit for SPH-Q 501 or any statistics course at the same basic level, may not count toward a Ph.D. degree student’s 90 required credits. However, a student's faculty advisory committee may waive this prerequisite requirement upon successful completion of a more advanced, graduate-level, statistics course at Indiana University, or at another institution. At the discretion of the student's faculty advisory committee, credit for statistics courses, which are more advanced than SPH-Q 501, may count in the 90 required credits for the degree.

Common Requirements
All Ph.D. degree students in the School of Public Health-Bloomington are required to complete the following three requirements:

  • SPH-X 590, Introduction to Research in Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation (3 cr.), or its equivalent. (Note: This course must be completed as a prerequisite to major course work.)
  • SPH-X 505, Principles and Foundations of Public Health (3 cr.), or its equivalent. (Note: 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 concurrently for an M.P.H. degree and a Ph.D. degree are also exempt from this requirement.)
  • SPH-E 651, Epidemiology (3 cr.), or its equivalent.

Required Components for the Ph.D. Degree in Epidemiology:

Research Skills (13 credits minimum)
These courses provide required skills to conduct research. These credits count toward the 90 credits for the degree. Courses counted in this area require a minimum grade of B.
Complete the following research skill courses for the Ph.D. degree in Epidemiology:

  • Courses providing required skills to conduct research such as advanced biostatistics. (9 cr.)
  • SPH-E 794 Doctoral Seminar in Epidemiology (a minimum 3 cr., 1 cr. per semester)
  • SPH-E 894 Doctoral Competency Evaluation (1 cr.)

Competency Exam
Each Ph.D. degree student in Epidemiology must pass an exam that assesses the extent to which the student has attained the program’s required competencies. This exam is administered to each student as a component of the research skill course listed above, entitled SPH-E 894 Doctoral Competency Evaluation.

Major Area of Study (30 credits minimum)
These courses must be taken within the School of Public Health-Bloomington. Courses transferred from previous graduate work outside the School of Public Health-Bloomington, if within the major area of study, can be used to fulfill the major areas of study requirement, contingent upon the committee’s approval.
Complete the following epidemiology major courses:

  • SPH-E 658 Intermediate Epidemiology (3 cr.)
  • SPH-E 659 Intermediate Epidemiological Methods (3 cr.)
  • SPH-Q 612 Survival Analysis (3 cr.)
  • SPH-Q 603 Categorical Data Analysis (3 cr.)
  • SPH-Q 605 Statistical Analysis of Multi-level and Longitudinal Data (3 cr.)
  • SPH-E 758 Advanced Epidemiology (3 cr.)
  • SPH-E 759 Advanced Epidemiological Methods (3 cr.)
  • SPH-E 790 The Logic and Rationale of Epidemiologic Research: Advanced Research Methodology (3 cr.)
  • Epidemiology major coursework to be prescribed by the doctoral advisory committee (6 cr.)

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 the American Public Health Association (APHA).

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