The Ph.D. in Public Health Sciences in Epidemiology provides advanced training in specialized methods and professional skills in grant and manuscript writing and oral presentation. Ph.D. students are required to select a specialized area of emphasis, which may be disease-based (e.g. infectious disease or cancer) or methods-based (e.g. nutrition or genetics), and take coursework in a minor area of interest (e.g. biostatistics, environmental health behavior, health systems or bioterrorism).
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To graduate, students in the Ph.D. specialization in epidemiology must be able to demonstrate the following competencies:
Explain the evolving paradigms of epidemiologic theory and study design and their impact on public health and medical sciences.
Critically evaluate scientific literature on an epidemiologic problem to identify strengths and limitations, biases and gaps in knowledge.
Formulate epidemiologic research questions and testable hypotheses.
Apply epidemiologic study designs for specific research hypotheses.
Apply computer software for data management and analysis.
Design and apply methods for data collection and management for epidemiologic research.
Apply advanced quantitative methods to analyze an epidemiologic problem.
Integrate cross-disciplinary knowledge from molecular to population levels to make appropriate causal inferences.
Communicate in written and oral presentations epidemiologic concepts and findings to diverse audiences.
Demonstrate mastery of a substantive area of epidemiology.
Complete an hypothesis-based epidemiologic research study suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
In greater detail, a Ph.D. student must specifically demonstrate:
In-depth knowledge of the history and philosophy of epidemiology.
Mastery of experimental and observational study designs and the ability to identify optimal designs for specific hypotheses.
Ability to develop and apply:
Biomarkers for health status, exposure, and susceptibility
Mastery of multivariable analytic methods for evaluating risk and prognosis.
Ability to critically evaluate the published epidemiologic research.
Expertise in one or more epidemiologic specialties such as nutritional, molecular, clinical, genetic, cancer, or chronic disease epidemiology.
Practical knowledge of issues in research management including:
Formation and leadership of multidisciplinary teams
Staffing, budgeting, tracking
Subject recruitment and retention
Data quality control and data safety management
Funding mechanisms and grantsmanship
Research ethics and regulations
Professional quality peer-review, oral and poster presentation, report, grant, and manuscript writing.
Mentoring of junior peers.
Development, conduct, completion and defense of a dissertation on an original research project.
Competencies are demonstrated by passage of the proficiency and candidacy examinations, by successful mentoring of master’s students or doctoral students not yet in candidacy, and by successful completion and defense of the dissertation.
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Students who have satisfactorily completed the M.S. degree in epidemiology are eligible for the Ph.D. specialization in epidemiology. Students who have satisfactorily completed a masters degree in a relevant discipline (for example MPH, MBBS) or another advanced degree (for example, MD or DO) may be accepted into the Ph.D. in Public Health Sciences Specialization in Epidemiology pending evaluation of appropriate training, experience, and coursework. Previous coursework in mathematics and/or statistics and biological or health sciences (for example, biology, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, microbiology) is strongly recommended.
The following are required for admission:
Formal application through the UofL Graduate School with transcripts and curriculum vitae
A one-page personal statement describing the applicant’s background and interest in epidemiology
Two letters of recommendation
Undergraduate GPA at least 3.0 on 4.0 scale
Official GRE scores are taken within the past five years. Scores greater than the 50th percentile on each of the quantitative and verbal sections are recommended.
If applicable, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score in at least 60th percentile
The Ph.D. specialization in epidemiology is designed to consist of 50 credit hours of coursework over a minimum of two years plus one to four years for completion of the dissertation. The coursework is organized into two blocks of 26 and 24 credit-hours. A part-time student may need to deviate from this sequence. Completion of the first block of coursework is prerequisite for sitting for the proficiency examination. After passing the proficiency examination, the student can proceed with the second block of coursework. Successful completion of the second block is prerequisite to sitting for the candidacy examination. After passing the candidacy examination, the student is admitted to doctoral candidacy.
A doctoral candidate must then successfully develop and defend a dissertation proposal that describes an original and independent research project. Upon successful defense of the proposal, the student may then proceed to dissertation research. Upon successful completion of the research, oral defense of the dissertation, and demonstration of the required competencies listed above, the student is awarded the Ph.D.degree.