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Program Requirements

Academic Performance. All students must maintain an overall B (3.0) grade point average (GPA) in their didactic coursework. If a student’s GPA drops below 3.0, they will be placed on academic probation. If the GPA is still below 3.0 after two more semesters, the Oversight Committee will evaluate the student’s overall performance, and they may be dismissed from the program. Continued financial support is contingent upon maintaining an overall GPA of 3.0 and taking a full course load each semester.


A typical student will complete 42 credits of core required courses, five to six electives, five to 10 dissertation credits, for a total of 72 credits minimum (including 6 to 12 transfer credits). This includes the required methods curriculum, content-area courses (electives and advanced methods), ethics training, and scientific writing.

Program graduates will often take academic positions upon completion, and it is critical that they have teaching experience prior to graduating. All students will be strongly encouraged to participate in the teaching of a methods course or seminar, and may choose from a list of teaching opportunities maintained by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).

Training in “Responsible Conduct of Research” (RCR) is offered by the Biomedical Research Education and Training program (BRET). The program includes: 

  • institutional and NIH policies regarding scientific misconduct and conflicts of interest
  • ethical considerations of research involving human and animal subjects
  • data management, record keeping, and intellectual property
  • responsible authorship and review of scientific publications and grants

A comprehensive examination will be administered at the end of the second year focusing on the methods knowledge gained during the foundational and mid-level methods portion of the degree. This take-home examination will include short answer questions, computations, interpretation of computations and analyses, and data analysis.

To qualify for candidacy, a student must complete all required first- and second-year courses, must be in good academic standing (GPA ≥3.0), must pass the comprehensive examination, and must pass an oral qualifying examination. The examining committee is the student’s dissertation committee. There are three possible outcomes of the examination: pass, conditional pass and fail. In case of failure, the student will be given up to four months to retake the examination. Failure to pass a second examination will result in dismissal from the doctoral program. On satisfactory completion of the oral examination, the student will be admitted to candidacy.

Candidates for the PhD in Epidemiology must present an acceptable dissertation that adds to or modifies the body of knowledge. Professional achievement must be evident and should include presentation of research at one or more national meeting(s). Prior to dissertation defense the student MUST have at least one first-authored publication submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The doctoral dissertation will include: critical review of the literature, a methods chapter to include hypotheses tested and methods applied, two to three manuscripts intended for publication, and a summary chapter with proposed next research steps in the field.