Epidemiology Application and Admission

Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology Programs
  • Entrance into the PhD program is subject to the approval of the admissions committees of the Graduate Group in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Biomedical Graduate Studies in the School of Medicine. Please see below for more details.
  • Combined MD/PhD degree program. Entrance is subject to the approval of the admissions committees of the School of Medicine, the Medical Scientist Training Program, the Graduate Group in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Biomedical Graduate Studies in the School of Medicine. Individuals who are interested in applying for this combined degree program should visit the MD/PhD admissions website.
  • Combined VMD/PhD degree program. Entrance is subject to the approval of the admissions committees of the School of Veterinary Medicine, the Graduate Group in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Biomedical Graduate Studies in the School of Medicine. Individuals who are interested in applying for this combined degree program should visit the VMD/PhD admissions website.

Below is information regarding the application process and procedures for the PhD in Epidemiology. Combined degree applicants, please see the respective websites above.

Admissions Requirements

Individuals admitted into these programs must have a master’s degree from an accredited college or university in a health-related field such as public health.

Applicants must demonstrate prior training and experience in epidemiology, clinical sciences, or a public health-related field. This requirement can be satisfied by having a degree in public health, epidemiology, biostatistics, or related field, or at least two years of relevant work experience.

Applicants should be committed to careers in medical research. It is expected that only applicants with outstanding academic records will be accepted into the program.

An important consideration in the evaluation of potential students into the program is the identification of GGEB faculty members as potential mentors. Prior to applying to the Doctoral in Epidemiology program, prospective students are encouraged to contact GGEB Epidemiology faculty member(s) who could serve as their mentors. Please view our faculty webpage to see each faculty member and their research interests along with their contact information.

Application Procedures for the PhD Degree Program

Thank you for your interest in the Graduate Group in Epidemiology and Biostatistics.


When applications open, you can apply for one of the GGEB programs through the Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) Admissions process.

A complete application consists of:

Application Form - A complete, submitted online application accompanied by the $80 fee. The online application will require you to upload the following documents:

  • Personal Statement - Please discuss your academic and career objectives. It should be around 500 words in length. Be as specific as you can about the area in which you plan to study and your reasons for wishing to study at the University of Pennsylvania.
    If you are applying to certificate program, your personal statement should include a paragraph (~200 words) reflecting your interest in those programs in addition to the doctoral discipline.

  • Research Statement - Please provide a description of your research experience(s), including the goals of each project, approaches used, results obtained, and implications of the findings for the project and the field at large. You may choose to describe a single research experience or several experiences, but please limit your statement to around 1000 words in length.
  • Resume/CV (Please DO NOT include GPA and/or GRE information)
  • Transcripts - All BGS applicants are required to upload up-to-date unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended. These transcripts must include your Spring 2018 semester grades and indicate the courses you are enrolled in for the Fall 2018 semester. Transcripts from completed programs should show proof of degree conferral. A final, official transcript showing conferral of degree will be required of all accepted students prior to matriculation.
  • Letters of Recommendation - You will also be prompted to send requests to three (3) people who are able to provide letters of recommendation. They will be sent an email notification with a link to the online recommendation form, which will allow them to upload a PDF of the letter. The application and letters should identify personal attributes, experiences, and accomplishments relevant to success in the program. Applicants who are currently enrolled in a degree program must arrange for at least one letter of recommendation to be sent from a faculty member at their current department.
  • Standardized Test Scores
    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE): No longer required.
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): All applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL, scores for which are valid for two years from the date of the exam. We must receive an official score from ETS by the application deadline. We will waive the TOEFL for applicants whose native language is not English but who have or will obtain a degree from a U.S. or other approved English-instructed institution. There are no minimum score requirements. Our ETS institution code is 2900. In order to ensure that your official scores are received in time, we suggest that you take the exam no later than mid-November.

Once the application is submitted, applicants may login to ApplyWeb to see whether transcripts and recommendation letters have been received. Please allow at least two weeks following the deadline for items to be posted to the application.

All materials must be received by the December deadline established by the BGS office (posted on the BGS website). No late applications will be accepted.

For general admissions questions, please view the BGS FAQ webpage.

Funding for the PhD Program

Students accepted into the program will recieve a fellowship for 21 months. BGS fellowships provide tuition, fees, health insurance, and a stipend for all full time students that remain in good academic standing. The BGS stipend for Fall 2019 is $34,000. In addition, as of Fall 2014, BGS provides new students with a $1,000 relocation award, to help cover start-up costs such as moving expenses and apartment security deposits. Students who accept a fully-funded fellowship from BGS are expected to devote themselves full time to their program of graduate study. Students may not accept another appointment or be employed either within or outside the University.

Before the end of the 21 month period, each student must identify a proposed dissertation project that is support by confirmed funding to cover the financial obligation for the subsequent years of the student's program of study. This financial support can derive from several sources such as individual faculty research grants and instututional NIH training grants. Please consult the BGS policies and procedures regarding student funding for more information. Students who are not settled into a proposed dissertation project with full financial support by the end of the 21-month period are candidates for removal from the program. 

Students are encouraged to explore a variety of individual fellowship awards. These include the Dissertation Research Award (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, AHRQ), the career awards (usually restricted to post-doctoral training but applicable to the PhD) offered through AHRQ and the National Institutes of Health. In addition, these organizations fund individual fellowship awards (F31and F37 for pre-doctoral, and F32 and F38 for postdoctoral National Research Service Awards (NRSA). Only citizens or permanent residents of the United States are eligible for these awards. The applications for these awards require a research plan that is usually developed during the coursework or pre-candidacy phases of the PhD program. At an early stage in the process of planning the NRSA submission, the student must communicate with the Chair of the Doctoral Program and the CCEB Business Office to learn about the submission process. In addition to AHRQ and NIH, some disease-specific donor organizations, such as the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, fund pre-doctoral studies, and students and advisors are urged to investigate these sources as appropriate to the student’s research interests.

The Office of Student Financial Services provides students with information on student expenses and billing, processes financial aid applications, awards financial assistance, and administers the Penn Plan payment programs. Students may contact the office directly at:

Office of Student Financial Services
University of Pennsylvania
Room 100 Franklin Building
3451 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6270
Email: sfsmail@sfs.upenn.edu

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Moving to Philadelphia?

If you are moving to the Philadelphia area, please view the Graduate Admissions for Housing website. There are a variety of sources to help you locate on-campus or off-campus housing as well as living expenses, utilities, and campus life. If you require Health Insurance for you and/or your dependents, please view the Student Health Services webpage to get started.

International Students: please visit the University of Pennsylvania’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). They will be able to get you started on VISA information and becoming a student in the USA.

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