Epidemiology Degree Programs

Epidemiology Degree Programs

Three Epidemiology Degree Programs are offered by UTHealth School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics & Environmental Sciences (EHGES)

Each program is described in detail here in the Epidemiology handbook. This is a great resource for students to use for planning their course of study, in addition to the interactive degree planners for each program.

All students who major or minor in Epidemiology are expected to meet the course requirements and competencies for major or minor degree programs in Epidemiology.  A student may have already taken a course (or series of courses) that are comparable to a required Epidemiology course.  A student may request an exemption from taking a particular required course, and the student should discuss this possibility with his/her faculty academic advisor.  Both the faculty academic advisor and course instructor(s) must approve of the “Waiver of a Required Epidemiology Course” and can refer to documentation on guidance for use of the form.

Master of Public Health & Master of Science (MS) in Epidemiology

A Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is the basic graduate degree in public health and can be completed in four semesters. The MPH Epidemiology program of study is geared towards preparing students with the knowledge of epidemiologic concepts and research methods to apply to real-world public health problems. A Master of Science (MS) degree signifies scholarly accomplishment in a public health discipline and is offered to those who plan careers in teaching and research.

Multiple career options are open to graduates with an MPH or MS in Epidemiology. MPH and MS graduates can also move to the next training level and earn a Doctorate (PhD) in Epidemiology. Whatever your goal, an MPH or an MS degree will take you one step closer to practicing in the field of epidemiology. Both the MPH and MS degrees at UTHealth School of Public Health will give you a complete understanding of epidemiologic principles so that you will be able to contribute to the wider scope of epidemiology research and public health in general. Read about the application process for the MPH and MS degrees in Epidemiology.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Epidemiology

This degree is a terminal degree in Epidemiology and represent outstanding scholarly achievement: a mastery of epidemiologic concepts, theories, and methodology and a significant capacity for independent study. Students in this degree program prepare themselves to become independent epidemiologic investigators and may acquire some teaching experience, as well. A PhD degree is thought of as primarily a research and teaching degree.

Preliminary Examination

The PhD Preliminary Examination in Epidemiology was designed to meet the standards and needs of Epidemiology faculty and students of the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences (EHGES) and to be in accordance with UTHealth School of Public Health requirements for doctoral-level examinations.  Students are required to pass this exam in order to proceed further in their doctoral studies in Epidemiology at UTHealth School o f Public Health.  More details regarding the exam and eligibility criteria are available here.  The PhD in Epidemiology Preliminary Exam Intent Form, which is to be filled out by all eligible PhD Epidemiology students - and submitted prior to taking the exam, is located here.

Remediation Plan for Students Failing the Exam on their First Attempt

Students who fail the preliminary exam on their first attempt must re-take the exam at its next offering.  To prepare for the second attempt, students should work with their Faculty Academic Advisor to develop a remediation plan. Click here for full remediation plan information.

Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology

This degree is designed to provide a breadth of achievement in the five core disciplines of public health, as well as additional knowledge and skills in epidemiology. The goal of this program is to prepare students to put epidemiologic concepts and methods into public health practice, conduct research studies in public health, and interpret scientific evidence relevant to public health.

Program Competencies

Upon graduation, MPH students in Epidemiology should be able to:

  • Assess key sources of data for epidemiological purposes
  • Demonstrate the application of epidemiology for informing   etiologic research, public health surveillance, or screening programs.
  • Evaluate a public health problem in terms of magnitude, person, place and time, and exposure-outcome relationships.
  • Explain the importance of epidemiology for informing scientific discussion of health issues.
  • Apply basic ethical principles pertaining to the collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of epidemiologic information
  • Apply data analysis techniques to basic epidemiologic data, including calculating and appropriately interpreting measures of disease frequency and association.

MPH - CEPH (mandated)

  • MC1. Apply epidemiological methods to the breadth of settings and situations in public health practice.
  • MC2. Select quantitative ... data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context.
  • MC3. Analyze quantitative … data using biostatistics, informatics, computer-based programming and software, as appropriate.
  • MC4. Interpret results of data analysis for public health research, policy, or practice.
  • MC19. Communicate audience-appropriate public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation.

Course of Study

To obtain a basic understanding of epidemiologic principles and practice in the broader context of public health, full-time students will ordinarily complete the course sequence in four semesters. A minimum of 45 credit hours is required to complete the MPH degree.

MPH Degree Planner

Practicum and Culminating Experience

Additionally, the MPH degree requires the completion of a formal practicum involving the application of public health science and theory and the completion of a culminating experience. The culminating experience may take several forms including a thesis or report, or exam, which meet criteria set forth by UTSPH. Students are required to complete the MPH program requirements within five years.

The SPH assigns an advisory committee to each MPH student during the first semester in which they are enrolled. This committee consists of the student, a faculty advisor from the EHGES Department, and a faculty member from some other discipline. With approval from the Office of Student Affairs, a student may change his advisor. Additionally, the student may chose to appoint an additional committee member to represent an area of particular academic/research interest after discussing this option with their advisory committee.

Students in the MPH program may also declare a concentration after they have completed one semester or have met the core requirements for the MPH. Certificates within the EHGES Department are described on the certificates page. Students who select a concentration may require more than 45 credit hours to complete their degree, depending on the specific requirements of the concentration.

Master of Science (MS) in Epidemiology

This is a research degree, designed to provide a profound understanding of epidemiologic concepts, theories and methodology. To a large extent, this degree program will be arranged by each student, in consultation with the advisory committee, in order to meet the student’s specific educational goals. Adequate understanding of human diseases, including their natural history, etiology, pathogenesis, and prevention or control, may require moderate or advanced preparation in related laboratory or clinical disciplines, genetics, behavioral sciences, or environmental sciences. Students are encouraged to draw upon outside resources (academic, governmental, clinical, etc.) in order to acquire the knowledge and skills requisite to their specific educational goals.

Program Competencies

Upon graduation MS students in Epidemiology should be able to:

  • Describe the basic philosophy, theory (including causal inference), and principles of epidemiology as a scientific discipline.
  • Describe the natural history of one or more specific diseases or health conditions, including consideration of its causation, control and prevention.
  • Apply and interpret basic methods of epidemiology and analyses to research questions.
  • Illustrate skills in basic data collection, data management, and analysis techniques.
  • Critically analyze and interpret data from an epidemiological study, taking into account the impact of bias and error on results.
  • Develop research proposals, with appropriate guidance or supervision.
  • Discuss basic ethical and legal principles pertaining to the collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of epidemiologic data.

Course of Study

To obtain a basic understanding of epidemiologic principles, concepts, methods, and their applications, a full-time student will ordinarily complete the course sequence in two years. A minimum of 12 courses and 36 credit hours is required. It is strongly recommended that students use the Program of Study Planner to structure the foundations of their academic plan for earning a Master of Science in Epidemiology.

MS Degree Planner

Students pursuing an MS in Epidemiology are required to select one minor area of study. In addition to coursework, the MS in Epidemiology degree program requires the successful completion of a research thesis that demonstrates an appropriate depth of knowledge in the field. Students are required to complete the MS program requirements within five years.

Research Thesis

The culmination of every MS student’s academic experience at UTSPH is the completion of an independent research project resulting in a research thesis. This research thesis should demonstrate both the student’s understanding of epidemiology and their attainment of the knowledge and skills required to carry out research relating to an epidemiologic problem. With approval from the Office of Student Affairs, a student can appoint someone other than their faculty advisor to act as their thesis supervisor.

UTSPH appoints an advisory committee to each MS student as a part of the admissions process. With approval from the Office of Academic Affairs and Student Services, a student may change his advisor. During the first semester of enrollment, the student and faculty advisor will nominate one faculty member from within the student’s division and one faculty member from outside the student s division to form the advisory committee After discussion with their advisory committee, a student may select additional committee members to contribute special expertise to the student’s research. These optional committee members may belong to another academic institution.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Epidemiology

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Epidemiology at The University of Texas School of Public Health is designed for students who plan to go on to academic (university-based) or research careers in Epidemiology and Disease Control. The doctoral program is research-intensive, where students work closely with faculty members in developing research skills necessary to be future leaders in research and teaching of epidemiology. Successful completion of a PhD degree in Epidemiology will take a minimum of three years.

Program Competencies

Upon graduation PhD students in Epidemiology should be able to:

  • Apply the basic philosophy, theory (including causal inference), and principles of epidemiology as a scientific discipline.
  • Evaluate the natural history of one or more specific diseases or health conditions, including consideration of causation, control, and prevention.
  • Apply and interpret advanced methods of epidemiology and analyses to research questions related to public health.
  • Develop research proposals and interpret results of epidemiological studies independently, taking into account the impact of bias and error on results and conclusions.
  • Apply ethical issues in the practice of epidemiology.
  • Communicate principles of epidemiology to others.

After entering the PhD degree program, the student, his or her advisor, and the qualifying committee will develop a unique academic plan that includes coursework relevant to the student s academic and research goals. Doctoral students must pass a qualifying exam for admission to doctoral candidacy.

Course of Study

It is recommended that students use the Degree Planner to structure the foundations of their academic plan for earning a doctoral degree in Epidemiology. For students with a prior master s degree in Epidemiology or Public Health, at least three years of full-time study are generally needed to complete the minimum of 48 credit hours required for the PhD degree in Epidemiology. Students may also be admitted directly into the PhD degree program with a bachelor’s degree as outlined in the Direct Admissions requirements. Students directly admitted into the PhD degree program will generally require at least four years of full-time study to complete the minimum of 84 credit hours required.

Students are expected to complete the PhD in Epidemiology within three years from the date of their admission to doctoral candidacy (following the successful completion of their qualifying examination). All students must complete the PhD program within seven years.

PhD Degree Planner

Preliminary Exam

The PhD Preliminary Examination in Epidemiology has been designed to meet the standards and needs of Epidemiology faculty and students of the Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences (EHGES) and to be in accordance with UTHealth School of Public Health requirements for doctoral-level examinations.  Students are required to pass this exam in order to proceed further in their doctoral studies in Epidemiology at UTHealth School of Public Health.  More details regarding the exam and eligibility criteria are available here.  The PhD in Epidemiology Preliminary Exam Intent Form, which is to be filled out by all eligible PhD Epidemiology students - and submitted prior to taking the exam, is located here. Previous workshop presentation can be viewed here.

Remediation Plan for Students Failing the Exam on their First Attempt

Students who fail the preliminary exam on their first attempt must re-take the exam at its next offering.  To prepare for the second attempt, students should work with their Faculty Academic Advisor to develop a remediation plan. Click here for full remediation plan information...

Research Dissertation

In addition to the methods courses, students are required to take a minimum of nine credit hours for both the minor and the breadth areas of study. The following course information does not reflect specific course requirements that may be recommended for individual minor or breadth areas of study.

The culmination of every PhD in Epidemiology doctoral candidate’s academic experience at UTHealth School of Public Health is the completion of an original research dissertation that makes a substantial contribution to knowledge in the field of epidemiology. All doctoral students must present and defend their dissertation research in a public forum at the school prior to graduation. The dissertation requirement will be fulfilled when the document has been approved and signed by all members of the dissertation committee, a copy has been filed in the Dean s office, and an oral presentation/defense of the work has taken place. The student must be enrolled during the semester in which they complete the degree requirements. Additional information concerning the research thesis can be found through the UTHealth School of Public Health Office of Research.