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 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

The current standard course sequence for PhD students consists of up to 8 core courses (see below). 10. 5 additional course units are taken in electives (advanced epidemiology and/or biostatistics courses and courses outside the department and school, as needed to serve the student’s specific interests). In addition, a minimum three semesters of lab rotations (EPID 699) and one unit of dissertation research (EPID 995) are required. 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 students starting Fall 2017

Year

Term

Course

Credit Unit









Year 1
Fall
EPID 701: Epidemiology I
1.0
EPID 542: Measurements of Health
1.0
EPID 526: Biostatistics for Epidemiologic Methods I
1.0
EPID 527: Biostatistics for Epidemiologic Methods II
1.0
EPID 600: Data Science for Biomedical Informatics (if placed out of 526/527)
1.0
EPID 699: Lab Rotation
0.33
Spring
EPID 640: Advanced Topics in Epidemiology
1.0
EPID/Other: Epidemiology or other elective
1.0
EPID 700: Doctoral seminar
0.5-1.0
EPID 699: Lab Rotation
0.33
 
Summer
EPID 699: Lab Rotation
0.33






Year 2

Fall
EPID/Other: Epidemiology or other elective
1.0-3.0
Ethics course or MSCE Workshops
0-1.0
EPID 699: Lab Rotation or EPID 899: Pre Dissertation Lab Rotation (for those who have chosen a dissertation mentor)
0.33-3.0
EPID 600: Data Science for Biomedical Informatics (if not taken in year 1)
1.0
Spring
EPID/Other: Epidemiology or other elective
1.0-3.0
EPID 700: Doctoral seminar (non-credit)
0.5-1.0
EPID 699: Lab Rotation or EPID 899: Pre Dissertation Lab Rotation (for those who have chosen a dissertation mentor)
0.33-3.0
Summer
Qualifications Examinations

 

 

Year 3

Fall
EPID/Other: Epidemiology or other elective
1.0-3.0
EPID 899: Pre Dissertation Lab Rotation
0.33-3.0
Spring
EPID/Other: Epidemiology or other elective
1.0-3.0
EPID 899: Pre Dissertation Lab Rotation
0.33-3.0
Summer
Candidacy Examination


Year 4

EPID 995: Dissertation Research
Dissertation Defense

 

 

 


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