Graduate Academic Programs

Doctoral Degree Program (PhD)

Epidemiology Major

Description of Program

This Ph.D. program is designed to train next generation of epidemiologists, who will study the distributions of diseases in populations, their causes, and their prevention and controls. The students are expected to gain mastery of epidemiological and biostatistical skills required for the highest level of scholarship, investigation and leadership in public health research; to design and complete their own investigator-initiated research projects in not only the biological origins of disease, but also the impact of social, economic, genetic and environmental exposures that contribute to the risk of disease; and to compete for research grants supported by research agencies, such as the National Institute of Health.

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

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

  • Public Health Foundations Requirement (0 credits) ll School of Public Health graduate students must complete the Public Health Foundations online course no later than the end of their first semester of graduate study. Complete details and registration information for this course can be found
  • SPH-E 651, Epidemiology (3 cr.), or its equivalent.

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 E-670 Meta-analysis and Systematic Review, Q-604 Applied Linear Regression, or other advanced biostatistics course. (9 cr.)
  • SPH-E 794 Doctoral Seminar in Epidemiology (a minimum 4 cr., 1 cr. per semester)

Qualifying Exam
Each Ph.D. degree student in Epidemiology must pass a doctoral qualifying exam that assesses the extent to which the student has attained the program’s required competencies. The qualifying exam includes a standardized written portion administrated by the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and an individualized oral portion administrated by the student’s advisory committee. The student must be satisfactory in both portions to pass the qualifying exam.  

Major Area of Study (30 credits minimum)
The following courses must be taken within the School of Public Health-Bloomington. No substitutions and transfer equivalency will be allowed for the following courses.

  • SPH-E 658 Intermediate Epidemiology (3 cr.)
  • SPH-E 659 Intermediate Epidemiological Methods (3 cr.)
  • SPH-E 758 Advanced Epidemiology (3 cr.)
  • SPH-E 759 Advanced Epidemiological Methods (3 cr.)
  • SPH-E 790 Scientific Writing and Proposal Development for Epidemiologic Research (3 cr.)

The following courses should be taken within School of Public Health-Bloomington or transferred from previous graduate work contingent upon approval of advisory committee.

  • 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.)
  • Epidemiology major coursework 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 (0–28 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).

Academic Bulletins