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Program Curriculum

Students admitted to the program are required to complete a total of 72 credit hours, including course work and research. Selected core courses will be shared with the Biostatistics graduate programs. In addition to the required methods curriculum, students will take content area and advanced methods electives. Students are eligible to take relevant course work, for which they meet the prerequisites, in any Vanderbilt department. Requirements for program completion include a take-home comprehensive examination at the end of the second year, an oral defense of the dissertation proposal, and the doctoral dissertation. The program is expected to take four years to complete. Students can accelerate their studies to complete the program in three years.
Our program is now accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health.

Foundational Courses Required

  • Causal Inference (3)
  • Epidemiologic Theory and Methods I and II (4 credits each, 8 total)
  • Principles of Biostatistics (4)
  • Modern Regression Analysis (4)
  • Scientific Writing I – Manuscripts, Abstracts, and Posters (1)
  • Research Ethics (1)
  • Scientific Writing II – Proposal Development in Epidemiology (2)
  • Applied Epidemiologic Methods in Regression: Binary Data (4)
  • Epidemiologic Methods: Design and Analysis with Time-to-Event Data (4)
  • Content Area Course/Seminar (e.g. genetics, global health, healthcare, infectious disease, pharmacoepidemiology) (2-12)
  • Advanced Methods for Epidemiology (measurement error, missing data, intermediate variables, complex study design, meta-analysis, splines, propensity scores, simulation) (3)
  • Non-Candidate Research Hours (0-4)
  • Dissertation Hours (0-4)

Optional Courses

Human Genetics
Recommended Human Genetics course sequence for Epidemiology Ph.D. students:

  • Spring of 1st year: HGEN 8330 (Special Topics in Human Genetics) OR Fall 2nd year: HGEN 8340 (Human Genetics I)
  • Spring of 2nd year: MPB 8341 (Human Genetics II), requires permission from instructor and received an A in HGEN 8330 or has passed HGEN 8340
  • Fall of 3rd year: EPI 8333 (Analytical Techniques for Genetic Epidemiology)
  • Optional: Spring of 3rd year: HGEN 8390 (Genetic Epidemiology)

Other Elective Courses

  • Clinical Trials
  • Decision Analysis and Cost Effectiveness
  • Molecular Techniques for Public Health Research
  • Current Topics in Research (1)
  • Biostatistics (e.g. Methods for Accommodating Missing Data)
  • Biomedical Informatics
  • Event surveillance and mathematical modeling of dispersion (3)
  • Advanced Predictive Modeling and Simulation (4)
  • Biostatistics (e.g. Advanced Probabilistic Concepts)
  • Biomedical Informatics

This table shows an example of a typical student’s course completion. Students can accelerate their studies to complete the program in three years, with some students taking five years where there are extenuating circumstances.

Example of Distribution of Course Credits of Candidate Completing in Four Years

First Semester Second Semester Total Credits
First Year
Causal Inference (3)
Epidemiologic Theory & Methods I (4)
Principles of Biostatistics (4)
Current Topics in Research (1)
Epidemiologic Theory & Methods II (4)
Modern Regression Analysis (4)
Scientific Writing I (1)
Content Area Elective (2)
Credits: 12 Credits: 12 Year: 24
Second Year
Applied Epidemiologic Methods in Regression: Binary Data (4)
Seminar: Quantitative Methods & Measurement (2)
Content Area Elective (4)
Epidemiologic Methods: Design and Analysis
with Time-to-Event Data (4)
Content Area Elective (4)
Scientific Writing II (2)
[Comprehensive Examination]
Credits: 10 Credits: 10 Year: 20
Third Year
Non-Candidate Research (0-4)
Advanced Methods Elective Modules: splines, propensity score methods, advanced techniques for model fit assessment (1) – up to 3 total
Dissertation Proposal Defense
Advanced Methods Elective Modules: clustered data, repeated measures growth models, advanced methods for missing data (1) – up to 3 total
Methods Elective (3)
Dissertation Research (0-3)
Credits: 6 Credits: 9 Year: 15
Fourth Year
Dissertation Research (0-3)
Methods Electives(2)
Dissertation (0-4)
Credits: 5 Credits: 4 Year: 9
Transfer Credits*: 4
Program Total: 72
*Advanced quantitative coursework credits likely to transfer from Master’s studies subject to approval.

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