Doctor of Philosophy in the Field of Epidemiology

Program Director S. Cleary                                                                                              

The purpose of the doctor of philosophy program is to prepare students for a career in epidemiologic research in an academic, government, or industry setting. The PhD graduate is expected to have knowledge across a wide range of epidemiologic theories and methods and specific knowledge of the epidemiology of one of the following areas: chronic disease, infectious disease, environmental and occupational health.

Doctoral students are required to pass a written comprehensive examination and to complete a dissertation. 

At the completion of the doctoral program in epidemiology students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of general and specialized epidemiologic concepts;
  • Develop a research protocol;
  • Conduct and analyze data from a research study; and
  • Disseminate research findings.

Admissions Requirements

Specific admission requirements are shown on the Graduate Program Finder and in the School of Public Health program webpage.

Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. Although not required, most admitted students have completed a master's degree prior to admission. Before applying, applicants must provide evidence of the completion of these required prerequisites: 

  • Calculus I and II- 6 credits
  • Human Biology- 8 credits

And, the following courses are highly recommended admission prerequisites:

  • Linear Algebra- 3 credits
  • SAS- 3 credits

If desired, a student may complete the MS or MPH program prior to admission to the PhD degree program, in which case no more than 24 credits from these degrees may be applied to the PhD coursework requirements. In this instance the student will be required to take a minimum of 27 additional credits of coursework. The distribution of these courses between epidemiology and statistics will depend on the nature of the master's degree and whether the transferred credits will be used to defray epidemiology or statistics coursework. All applications are submitted through

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 

The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Program.

72 credits

Preparatory Requirements

Minimum prerequisite courses for admission consideration
BISC 1115
BISC 1125
Introductory Biology: Cells and Molecules
and Introduction to Cells and Molecules Laboratory *
BISC 1116
BISC 1126
Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms
and Introduction to Organisms Laboratory
MATH 1231Single-Variable Calculus I
MATH 1232Single-Variable Calculus II
MATH 2233Multivariable Calculus (option A only)
Additional course requirements
The courses listed below are additional course requirements. Applicants lacking these courses (or equivalents to these GW courses) will be considered for admission, but will be admitted conditionally with the expectation that these courses will be completed within two semesters following matriculation in the program. Credits for these courses do not count toward the 72-credit graduation requirement, or are grades earned in these additional courses reflected in the overall grade-point average.
MATH 2184Linear Algebra I
STAT 2183Intermediate Statistics Lab/Packages
or PUBH 6249 Use of Statistical Packages: Data Management and Data Analysis

Degree Requirements

Public health core
PUBH 6003Principles and Practices of Epidemiology
PUBH 6247Design of Health Studies
PUBH 6252Advanced Epidemiology Methods
PUBH 8419Measurement in Public Health and Health Services
One of the following for a total of 4 credits:
PUBH 6299Topics in Epidemiology and Biostatistics (taken for 2 credits)
PUBH 6004Environmental and Occupational Health in a Sustainable World
or PUBH 6007 Social and Behavioral Approaches to Public Health
PUBH 6299
PUBH 6006
Topics in Epidemiology and Biostatistics
and Management and Policy Approaches to Public Health (taken for 1 credit)
Statistics core
STAT 6210Data Analysis (OR)
PUBH 8365Design of Medical Studies
PUBH 8366Biostatistical Methods (basis for PhD general comprehensive)
Option A
STAT 6201Mathematical Statistics I
STAT 6202Mathematical Statistics II
Option B
PUBH 8364Quantitative Methods
A minimum of 17 to 20 public health elective credits, which may be selected from the following. Additional courses may be approved by the program director.
PUBH 6299Topics in Epidemiology and Biostatistics
PUBH 6123Toxicology: Applications for Public Health Policy
PUBH 6124Problem Solving in EOH
PUBH 6242Clinical Epidemiology and Public Health: Reading the Research
PUBH 6244Cancer Epidemiology
PUBH 6245Infectious Disease Epidemiology
PUBH 6250Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS
PUBH 8242Doctoral Topics in Clinical Epidemiology and Public Health: Reading the Research
PUBH 8244Doctoral Topics: Cancer Epidemiology
PUBH 8245Doctoral Topics: Infectious Disease Epidemiology
PUBH 8250Doctoral Topics: Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS
PUBH 6259Epidemiology Surveillance in Public Health
PUBH 6260Advanced Data Analysis for Public Health
PUBH 6262Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
PUBH 6263Advanced GIS
PUBH 6267Time Series Applications in Public Health
PUBH 6268Advanced SAS
Statistics electives (only students pursuing Option A)
STAT 6213Intermediate Probability and Stochastic Processes
STAT 6215Applied Multivariate Analysis I
STAT 6216Applied Multivariate Analysis II
STAT 6217Design of Experiments
STAT 6223Bayesian Statistics: Theory and Applications
STAT 6227Survival Analysis
STAT 6231Contingency Table Analysis
STAT 8226Advanced Biostatistical Methods
Three credits from the following:
PUBH 6258Advanced Topics in Biostatistical Consulting
PUBH 6283Biostatistics Consulting Practicum
The consulting requirement may be waived by the Epidemiology Program Director based on written documentation of prior equivalent course work or relevant work experience. Waiver of the consulting course increases the total number of electives proportionally.
Dissertation research
12 to 21 credits of the following:
PUBH 8999Dissertation Research (taken in units of 3 credits)

*Honors Program students and those who have been invited to join the Scholars in Quantitative and Natural Sciences (SQNS) Program take BISC 1120 instead of BISC 1125 for the lab component.

Graduation Requirements

  1. Program options: Students may choose either curriculum Option A or curriculum Option B for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in the field of epidemiology.
  2. Graduate credit requirement: 72 graduate credits are required.
  3. Prerequisites: Review official program guide for minimum prerequisite requirements for admission.
  4. Comprehensive (General) exam: successful completion within 24 months of matriculation.
  5. Dissertation: 12 to 21 credits of dissertation research are required.
  6. Grade point requirements: An overall GPA of 3.0 (B average) is required.
  7. Time limit requirement: The degree must be completed in 8 years.
  8. Transfer credit policy: Up to 24 credits from an applicable masters program may be approved to be transferred to the doctoral program. Transferred courses must have received a grade of B or above and earned at an accredited institution.