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What Is a PhD in Epidemiology?

The PhD in Epidemiology program at the Dornsife School of Public Health is a scientifically rigorous doctorate program comprised of both formal classroom training and guided research with faculty mentors trained in a variety of areas of public health.

The program prepares students to approach problems with critical analytic skills necessary and utilize the most appropriate research strategies to address meaningful epidemiologic problems.

Dornsife's current Phd in Epidemiology students are studying a wide variety of impactful research topics including pharmacoepidemiology, infectious diseases, autism, gentrification, transgender health, and cancer epidemiology.

Funded Slots for Students for 2023-2024 Academic Year

The PhD program in Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Dornsife is accepting applications for multiple fully-funded slots for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Tuition, health insurance, and a stipend at the NIH rate are provided. Faculty in the Department who are potentially accepting students for these funded slots include, but are not limited to:

  • Dr. Usama Bilal, in partnership with Dr. Mariana Lazo, is seeking a doctoral student who will contribute to a project examining social and racial/ethnic disparities in chronic liver disease (fatty liver). The project involves data management, quantitative analyses of a large cohort study, and preparation of abstracts, presentations, and journal articles.
  • Dr. Gina Lovasi is seeking a doctoral student who will contribute to a project investigating whether successful neighborhood change strategies have particular features (e.g., healthy food stores, walkable streets) or processes (e.g., community-led versus a top-down selection of what to change) in reducing health disparities. The project involves systematic data collection, quantitative and geospatial analyses, and preparation of grants, abstracts, presentations, and journal articles.
  • Dr. Yvonne Michael and Dr. Terry Hyslop, Professor of Biostatistics at Thomas Jefferson University and Director of the Center for Health Equity at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, have research opportunities for potential epidemiology students interested in studies integrating biomarkers and measures of socio-economic status, built environment and other exposures as they relate to cancer health equity. Dr. Hyslop has financial support for doctoral students, and her center provides data resources as well as a growing team of faculty and staff in this area of interest.

Feel free to reach out to Amy Auchincloss, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor, with questions.

Why Pursue a PhD in Epidemiology at Drexel Dornsife?

Drexel Dornsife’s PhD in Epidemiology program offers a variety of unique benefits that prepare students for career advancement and professional skill development:

  • Access to Renowned Faculty: Students engage with the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics faculty members, whose research areas include aging and lifecourse epidemiology, chronic and infectious disease epidemiology, complex systems approaches to population health, neighborhood influences on health disparities, psychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions, and urban health.
  • Financial Support: Full-time students with research or teaching fellowships receive full tuition, 12-month stipend, and health insurance.
  • Mentorship: Students are paired with outstanding faculty mentors with training and expertise in epidemiology and biostatistics.
  • Teaching Opportunities: Doctoral students have opportunities for teaching in our master’s and undergraduate degree programs.
  • Cohort Size: Small cohort size ensures favorable faculty to student ratio.
  • Reputation: Dornsife ranks as the #1 graduate school of public health in Philadelphia and is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).
  • Excellent Career Outcomes: 100 percent job placement within one year of graduation.

Upon graduation of the PhD in Epidemiology program, students will be prepared to:

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of human physiology and pathophysiology with special competence in areas needed for dissertation research
  • Search and critically evaluate literature to synthesize information, identify major gaps in knowledge, and formulate statement of research problem and hypothesis
  • Design studies based on application of principal study designs, strengths, and limitations, evaluate sample size, identify, assess, and minimize bias and confounding
  • Analyze data using appropriate statistical approaches and standard statistical software
  • Apply epidemiologic causal inference theory to the design, implementation, and interpretation of analyses
  • Communicate results orally and in writing to scientists and non-scientists and place findings in appropriate public health and health policy context

To learn more about the Epidemiology PhD program, request more information to speak with an academic advisor today.

Request more information

Dornsife's Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics seeks students who have demonstrated an ability to integrate public health competencies and skills into public health practice.

Admissions Requirements for the PhD in Epidemiology Program

Applicants to the PhD in Epidemiology program must meet the following requirements:

  • Master’s degree in epidemiology or a related field
  • Potential for high level of performance in the PhD program and subsequent contributions to the field of epidemiology

All entering students are expected to have already completed introductory and intermediate level epidemiology and biostatistics courses as part of their Master’s program or must enroll in these courses, or their equivalents, as additional requirements.

Application Requirements for the PhD in Epidemiology Program

To be considered for the PhD in in Epidemiology program, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Online application via SOPHAS
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts (international transcripts must be evaluated by World Education Services)
  • A written statement of career and educational goals, professional experience, and area of research interest
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty or professionals who can evaluate the applicant's promise as a graduate student
  • Resume or CV
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for applicants whose first language is not English

An in-person or telephone/online interview is required of all finalists.

A note on official GRE scores: GRE scores will not be a part of the Drexel University Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics application for those applying for Fall 2023 entry. The Admissions Committee will continue to evaluate candidates based on a holistic and overall assessment of the required application materials. This policy will be reviewed and reconsidered at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year.

To learn more about application and admissions requirements for the PhD in Epidemiology program, please visit the page below.

Learn more about admissions and application requirements

Faculty and Research

The mission of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics is to develop, teach and apply approaches to understanding the distribution and determinants of disease in populations in order to generate knowledge that can be used to improve public health.

Explore Epidemiology Department Faculty and Research

Epidemiology PhD Program Curriculum

The PhD in Epidemiology curriculum prepares students to approach public health problems with the critical analytic skills necessary to generate meaningful epidemiologic questions and utilize the most appropriate research strategies to address them.

The program comprises both formal classroom training and guided research with faculty mentors trained in a variety of areas of public health.

Required Courses

The PhD in Epidemiology program requires two academic years of structured coursework, consisting of required core courses in the Dornsife School of Public Health, as well as directed dissertation research.

Students complete core epidemiology classes and choose electives in areas such as infectious disease epidemiology, perinatal epidemiology, cardiovascular disease epidemiology, and pharmacoepidemiology.

Required core courses in the program include:

  • BST 820 Intermediate Biostatistics II - 3 credits
  • EPI 700 Advanced Epidemiology - 3 credits
  • EPI 801 Causal Inference in Epidemiology: Theory - 3 credits
  • EPI 804 Causal Inference in Epidemiology: Application - 3 credits
  • EPI 861 Pathophysiologic Basis of Epidemiologic Research - 3 credits

Students consult with their faculty mentor on all elective selections, and at least one elective should be at the doctoral level.

Degree Requirements for the PhD in Epidemiology

To graduate with a PhD in Epidemiology, students must meet the following academic requirements:

  • A minimum of 54 credits
  • Completing a dissertation of publishable quality
  • Passing the final defense

To learn more about the PhD in Epidemiology curriculum and to see plans of study, please follow the links below.

Review degree requirements and courses

Sample Plan of Study

Career Options with a PhD in Epidemiology

Many program graduates work in an applied epidemiologic field or health research field. Graduates are employed by state and local governments, nonprofits, universities, and pharmaceutical companies.

A PhD in Epidemiology prepares individuals for unique career paths and advancement opportunities, including:

  • Senior Epidemiologist
  • University Professor
  • Research Scientist
  • Director of Clinical Research

A PhD in Epidemiology provides a unique opportunity to direct scientifically rigorous research that informs public health and medical care policies and procedures, leading to improved health and well-being of populations.

PhD in Epidemiology Salaries

While salary can range across industries, the median annual wage for epidemiologists across all top industries was $78,830 in May 2021. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30% increase in the job outlook for epidemiologists. More information regarding the projected job market and salary for epidemiologists can be found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' website.

The types of organizations that hire epidemiologists include:

  • Research organizations
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Hospitals
  • Universities
  • State and local government departments/agencies

Further develop your skills and propel your career forward with a PhD degree in Epidemiology.

Start your application today

95 percent of Drexel Dornsife doctoral students receive some kind of funding

Paying for Your Public Health Degree

Ninety-five percent of PhD students receive tuition remission, stipend, and health insurance.

In general, PhD students finance their education through a variety of sources, and the Dornsife School of Public Health provides financial support through training grants, scholarships, stipends, and working as a teaching or research assistant.

Explore scholarships and financial aid


Yvonne Michael, ScD, SM
Epidemiology MS and PhD Program Director
Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics

David A. Wood, MBA, MS
Executive Director, Enrollment Management