Graduate Group in Epidemiology & Biostatistics

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Academics - Epidemiology

The mission of the PhD Program in Epidemiology is to train independent researchers in the development and application of epidemiologic methods and to prepare them for positions as scientific leaders in academia and industry. The PhD is a research degree; it indicates the highest attainable level of scholarship, and a commitment to a research career. The PhD does not represent merely the accumulation of course credits, but rather, the development and completion of a well-designed and conscientious program of scientific investigation that makes a unique contribution to the field of epidemiology.

The PhD program in Epidemiology requires a total of 20 course units including basic and advanced courses in epidemiology, statistical methods, as well as electives drawn from other departments and schools that serve the student's research interests. The program also requires written qualifications and oral candidacy examinations, and the successful defense of a doctoral dissertation, in accordance with University of Pennsylvania policy.

The PhD program typically requires the equivalent of at least four years of full-time study, in three defined phases: coursework, pre-candidacy, and candidacy. The coursework phase typically takes two years of full time study, and is intended to provide the student with the knowledge needed to pursue advanced, independent study and investigation in epidemiologic research. This phase culminates in the written Qualifications Examination, normally taken after most or all of the student's coursework has been completed. The pre-candidacy phase focuses on the preparation of a scientifically unique, methodologically sound, and feasible dissertation proposal. This phase ends with passing the oral Candidacy Examination, at which time the student is recognized as a Candidate for the PhD and focuses his or her effort on performing the research for and writing the dissertation. A successful public defense of the dissertation then completes the academic requirements for the PhD.

The PhD Program in Epidemiology is administered by the Graduate Group in Epidemiology and Biostatistics (GGEB) and is led by the Director of the Doctoral Program in Epidemiology, working with the PhD Program Executive Committee. The Office of Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) provides oversight and coordination for the CCEB and six other graduate groups offering PhD degrees in the biomedical sciences. BGS provides centralized support to the graduate groups for admissions, student fellowships, curricular oversight, record-keeping, and other operations.

Curriculum and Program Requirements

A minimum of 20.0 credit units (CU) is required to obtain the PhD Degree in Epidemiology. The core courses required for all PhD students represent 9.5 credit units of the 20.0 required credits for the degree. They are:

Additional requirements include:

Course Plans

All students are expected to develop and maintain a current course plan developed with and monitored by their mentor. This course plan must be approved by the Program Director, and will be reviewed semi-annually in order to monitor the student's progress and identify potential delays in completing the program. A typical course plan is provided below.

Sample course plan for an entering PhD student

Year
Term
Course
c.u.

 

 

 

 

 

Year 1

Summer II EPID 510:  Introduction to Epidemiology 1.0
  EPID 526:  Biostatistics for Epidemiology I 1.0
 
Fall EPID 542:  Measurements of Health 1.0
  EPID 526/7:  Biostatistics for Epidemiology I (cont’d.)I/II 1.0
  EPID/Other:  Epidemiology or other elective 1.0
  EPID 700:  Doctoral Seminar 0.5
  EPID 699: Lab Rotation 0.33
 
Spring EPID 527:  Biostatistics for Epidemiology II (cont’d.) 0
  EPID 532:  Database Management 0.5
  EPID 640:  Advanced Topics in Epidemiology 1.0
  EPID 700:  Doctoral Seminar 0.5
  EPID 699: Lab Rotation 0.33
     
Summer I Possible elective 0.5-1.0
  EPID 699: Lab Rotation 0.33
 

 

 

 

Year 2

Fall EPID/BSTA:  Advanced Biostatistics course or elective 0.5/1.0
  EPID/Other:  Epidemiology or other elective 1.0
  EPID 805:  Applications of Clinical Research 1.0
  EPID 700:  Doctoral Seminar 0.5
     
Spring EPID/BSTA:  Advanced Biostatistics course or elective 0.5/1.0
  EPID 690: Empirical Bioethics 1.0
  EPID/Other:  Epidemiology or other elective 1.0
  EPID 700  Doctoral Seminar 0.5
     
Summer
Qualifications Examination
 

 

 

Year 3

Fall EPID/Other:  Epidemiology or other elective 1.0
  EPID 710:  Consultation in Epidemiology 1.0
  EPID 700: Doctoral Seminar (non-credit) 0
     
Spring EPID/Other:  Epidemiology or other elective 1.0
  EPID 700:  Doctoral Seminar (non-credit) 0
     
Summer
Candidacy Examination
 

 

Year 4

  EPID 995: Dissertation Research 0
  EPID 700:  Doctoral Seminar (non-credit) 0
 
Dissertation Defense


Course descriptions can be found on our Clinical Epidemiology Courses web page.