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PhD, Epidemiology

Epidemiology illustration

Learn theory, methods and techniques in epidemiological research

Prepare for a career in epidemiologic research in academia, government or the private sector by mastering the essential principles and methodology of epidemiological research and practice.

Perfect for...

Students interested in:

  • Theories, techniques and methods in epidemiology
  • Design, analysis and evaluation of epidemiologic studies
  • Causal analysis and control of biases
  • Development intervention and prevention strategies
  • Presentations of findings in academic journals and conferences

Career Paths

  • Public health agency employee
  • University researcher
  • University instructor
  • University administrator
  • Consultant

Program Overview

Students in the PhD program in Epidemiology master core knowledge in epidemiologic and biostatistical methods related to the design, implementation and evaluation of public health studies surrounding psychosocial, behavioral, biological and cultural factors.

See all Epidemiology graduate student resources.

Employment of epidemiologists is projected to grow 5 percent by 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
  1. Develop novel epidemiological research questions by critically reviewing and evaluating public health literature.
  2. Use epidemiologic theories of disease causation to conceptualize a general causal framework that captures determinants of disease occurrence.
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in selecting and conducting the most appropriate study design to address a research question (e.g., ecological study, cross-sectional study, case-control study, cohort study, or randomized trials).
  4. Explain conceptual definitions of exposure variables, outcome variables, mediators, and modifiers in ways consistent with the causal framework guiding the research.
  5. Identify potential confounders, information bias, and selection bias that distort the validity of a study and ability to minimize them through design, data collection, and analysis.
  6. Understand required elements to estimate sample size and apply methods to provide valid estimates of parameters for sample size calculations for different study designs.
  7. Demonstrate skills in public health data collection and management.
  8. Develop analytic strategies for various study designs, guided by the principles of epidemiology, to account for confounding, interaction effects, and intermediate effects.
  9. Understand the rationale and assumptions underlying major statistical techniques used to analyze data from epidemiological studies.
  10. Critically evaluate measures of association (e.g., odds ratio, risk ratio, rate ratio, or hazard ratio) and understand how to select between them for various study designs.
  11. Demonstrate proficiency in communication skills in reports of findings from research projects (conference presentations, scientific publications, and grant writing).
  12. Develop expertise in an area of independent research interest.

The PhD in Epidemiology requires a minimum of 64 credit hours beyond the master’s degree in epidemiology or public health, including 28 credit hours of core courses, 12 credit hours of electives, 12 credit hours of specialization electives and 12 credit hours of dissertation research. The program also requires 13 credit hours of pre-requisites.

Course Type Course Title Credits
Pre-Requisites SPHL 602  Foundations of Epidemiology and Biostatistics 4
Pre-Requisites EPIB 611  Intermediate Epidemiology 3
Pre-Requisites EPIB 650  Biostatistics II 3
Pre-Requisites EPIB 697 Public Health Data Management 3
Core SPHL 600 Foundations of Public Health 3
Core EPIB 612 Epidemiologic Study Design 3
Core Pick one course in content area
  • EPIB 620 Chronic Disease Epidemiology
  • EPIB 621 Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Core SPHL 612 Research Ethics 1
Core EPIB 652  Categorical Data Analysis 3
Core Pick one course in advanced statistical methods
  • EPIB 653  Applied Survival Data Analysis
  • EPIB 655  Longitudinal Data Analysis
Core EPIB 710 Grantsmanship for Epidemiologic Research 3
Core EPIB 740  Advanced Methods in Epidemiology 3
Core EPIB 788 Critical Readings 3
Core EPIB 789  Independent Study 3
Electives To be determined by advisement in advanced methods 12
Specialization Electives To be determined by advisement in area of specialization 12
Dissertation EPIB 899  Doctoral Dissertation Research 12
Total Credits for PhD Program in Epidemiology 64

See all requirements on the UMD Catalog
Course Title Credits Prerequisite
EPIB 611: Intermediate Epidemiology 3 credits EPIB610/SPHL602. Analysis of epidemiologic methods as applied to epidemiologic research, analysis of bias, confounding, effect modification issues, overview of design, implementation and analysis of epidemiologic studies.
EPIB 612: Epidemiologic Study Design 3 credits EPIB610/SPHL602, EPIB611, and SPHL602/EPIB650. Application of epidemiologic study designs, analytic methods used for analysis of cohort, case-control, cross-sectional and clinical trials research.
EPIB 620 Chronic Disease Epidemiology 3 credits EPIB610/SPHL602 or currently enrolled in SPHL602. Overview of prevalence and risk factors for major chronic diseases. Discussion of methodological issues unique to specific chronic disease.
EPIB 621 Infectious Disease Epidemiology 3 credits EPIB610/SPHL602 or currently enrolled in SPHL602. Overview of the unique aspects of infectious diseases and the epidemiological methods used in their study, prevention, and control.
EPIB 622 Social Determinants of Health 3 credits EPIB610/SPHL602 or currently enrolled in SPHL602. Overview of the major social variables that affect public health, including socioeconomic status, poverty, income distribution, race, social networks/support, community cohesion, psychological stress, gender, and work and neighborhood environment.
EPIB 623 Epidemiology of Health Disparities 3 credits EPIB610/SPHL602 or currently enrolled in SPHL602. Determinants that influence health outcomes of the most disadvantaged populations in the United States. Focus on social factors contributing to health disparities and inequities in the US.
EPIB 626 Epidemiology of Obesity 3 credits EPIB610/SPHL602 or currently enrolled in SPHL602. Overview of the epidemiological, prevention, and treatment of obesity, its causes and consequences, and energy balance issues; application of epidemiologic methods to the study of obesity epidemiology.
EPIB630 Epidemiologic Methods in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research 3 credits EPIB610/SPHL602 or currently enrolled in SPHL602. Examination of epidemiologic methods (quantitative and qualitative) for collecting and analyzing data on sexual and reproductive health. The emphasis will be to introduce students to the appropriate methods used for challenging and sensitive research topics such as sexual behavior, HIV/STI, drug use, sexual abuse.
EPIB633 Health Survey Design and Analysis 3 credits SPHL602 or EPIB610; or permission of Instructor. An overview of types of survey research designs, questionnaire design, measurement issues, and techniques for recruiting and interacting with participants. Students will discuss and implement a variety of health survey analysis techniques, including how to utilize SAS statistical software to estimate descriptive statistics and implement regression models, while accounting for complex survey designs.
EPIB 651 Biostatistics II 3 credits EPIB650/SPHL602. Recommended: EPIB697 Public Health Data Management. Introduction to a variety of statistical tools with applications in public health, including one- and two-sample inference, nonparametric methods, categorical data, ANOVA, simple and multiple regression.
EPIB 652 Categorical Data Analysis 3 credits EPIB651. Recommended: EPIB697 Public Health Data Management. Methods for analysis of categorical data as applied to public health research, including contingency tables, logistic regression, multi-category logic models, loglinear models, and models for matched-pairs.
EPIB 653 Applied Survival Data Analysis 3 credits EPIB651. Overview of statistical methods for analyzing censored survival data, including the Kaplan-Meier estimator and the log-rank test.
EPIB 655 Longitudinal Data Analysis 3 credits EPIB651 Statistical models for drawing scientific inferences from longitudinal data, longitudinal study design, repeated measures and random effects to account for experimental designs that involve correlated responses, handling of missing data.
EPIB697: Public Health Data Management 3 credits None This course is designed to provide students with the expertise needed to effectively manage research data using SAS as the statistical programming language.
EPIB 710 Grantmanship for Epidemiologic Research 3 credits EPIB610/SPHL602, EPIB611, EPIB612, EPIB650 and EPIB651. In-depth study of the knowledge and skills needed to design, conduct, and evaluate an epidemiologic research study. Development of a complete research project.  
EPIB 740 Advanced Methods in Epidemiology 3 credits EPIB610/SPHL602, EPIB611, EPIB612, EPIB650/SPHL602, and EPIB651. In-depth investigation of epidemiologic methods for making causal inferences and solving complex methodological problems. Multivariate models emphasized.
EPIB 786 Capstone Project in Public Health
EPIB 788 Critical Readings
EPIB 798 Independent Study
EPIB 898 Pre-Candidacy Research
EPIB 899 Doctoral Dissertation Research