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Epidemiology

Graduate Program

Epidemiology Program Office
F262 Health Sciences, Box 357236
(206) 543-6302 or (206) 543-8226
epiapply@uw.edu
depts.washington.edu/epidem

The Department of Epidemiology offers the following three graduate degrees: Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Science, and Master of Public Health, for individuals intending to become academicians, highly qualified research specialists, or well-trained public health practitioners, respectively. The department also offers a number of degree tracks within the masterís degree programs, as well as several graduate certificates.

Admission Requirements for All Degrees

Admission to all graduate programs is highly competitive and is based on the following:

  1. Background in epidemiology or other health-related fields (such as medicine, health or biological sciences, mathematics, quantitative social sciences), including prior areas of study and work experience, especially quantitative public health research
  2. Undergraduate and graduate grades (if applicable)
  3. GRE scores (exceptions are often made for master's degree applicants with a prior PhD, MD, DO, DDS, DVM, or equivalent health-related degree from a U.S. university; MD/MPH applicants at UW; and MD/PhD applicants funded by the Medical Scientist Training Program at UW. No exceptions to GRE requirement are made for PhD program applicants.).
  4. TOEFL or IELTS score from international applicants, unless bachelor's degree taught entirely in English
  5. Applicant interests that are aligned with those of Department of Epidemiology faculty. (It is not expected that applicants locate a faculty mentor in advance.)
  6. Compelling motivation for pursuing training in epidemiology as demonstrated through a well-written goal statement
  7. Letters of reference

The Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in epidemiology requires coursework in health services and environmental health, in addition to epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as a thesis and a practicum as preparation for a career in public health practice or as a prelude to the PhD program. Three tracks are available: the general track, which is selected by most students and allows specialization via the choice of electives and thesis topic; the global health track (GH); and the maternal and child health track (MCH). The global health track requires approximately two years of prior health science work experience in a developing country, although some of the two years may be health-related work with immigrant or underserved groups in the United States. (The epidemiology global health track is not the same as the MPH general track through the Global Health Department in that it focuses on epidemiology and biostatistics rather than on health services-oriented training, but it does incorporate some of the same classes.) Applicants without the requisite experience may apply to both the Epidemiology general track and the global health graduate certificate (listed below) which combined offer equivalent training. The MCH track expects prior U.S. MCH experience for admission. Applicants without this experience may apply to both the general track and the MCH graduate certificate (listed below) which combined offer the similar training.

Formal concurrent degree programs involving the epidemiology MPH include the following: Doctor of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Anthropology, Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS), and Master of Public Affairs (MPA). A masterís or doctorate from another department at the UW may be combined with the MPH with the approval of both programs.

The Master of Science (MS) degree in epidemiology requires concentration on courses and research in epidemiology and biostatistics as preparation for a research specialization or as a prelude to the PhD program. It also requires electives from the School of Public Health. Two tracks are available, the general track, which allows specialization via the choice of electives and thesis topic and the clinical research track (CR). The MS CR is intended chiefly for professionals who have already completed clinical training, and who plan to conduct research with patients in healthcare settings as a significant part of their future careers.

A formal concurrent degree program combines the epidemiology general track MS with the PhD in molecular and cellular biology. A masterís or doctorate from another department at the UW may be combined with the MS with the approval of both programs.

Applicants interested in an MS in genetic epidemiology, administered by the Institute for Public Health Genetics (a School of Public Health program that is not part of the Department of Epidemiology), should visit http://depts.washington.edu/phgen/programs/msge.html.

The Doctor of Philosophy is designed to produce academics who are highly qualified as independent investigators, teachers, and practitioners. The requirements for the PhD degree in epidemiology differ from the MS program requirements primarily in the scope and complexity of research for the dissertation. Coursework includes a core series in epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as epidemiology electives and other electives from the School of Public Health.

Admission Requirements Specific to the PhD

  1. Master's degree in epidemiology or other health-related field, including mathematics and quantitative social sciences.
    1. A prior doctorate without a health-related masterís degree is not acceptable.
    2. An applicant with a doctorate only and no masterís degree should apply to the MS or MPH first.
    3. All courses and credits from the MS or MPH in epidemiology at the UW count directly toward the PhD in epidemiology.
  2. GRE from all applicants, including those who hold a U.S. doctorate, except MSTP MD students at UW.

The Epidemiology Department and other School of Public Health departments offer several graduate certificate programs open to any qualified graduate student at the University (sph.washington.edu/prospective/edprograms.asp#cert). Some certificate programs are open to Graduate Non-Matriculated students, if indicated on the certificate websites. Following is a partial listing of certificate programs:

Master of Public Health

Degree Requirements

Minimum 63 credits, as follows:

  1. 45 to 49 class credits
  2. Core Courses: 33 graded credits, including EPI 512, EPI 513, EPI 514, BIOST 511, BIOST 512, BIOST 513, either ENV H 510 or ENV H 511, HSERV 510, HSERV 511. BIOST 517-BIOST 518 may be substituted for BIOST 511, BIOST 512, BIOST 513
  3. EPI 510, a prerequisite for EPI 514, is required for students without substantial SAS and Stata programming experience
  4. Electives: 6 credits of EPI course electives of 2 or more credits each (See acceptable electives in the on the courses webpage at depts.washington.edu/epidem/courses/)
  5. 3 to 6 credits (120 to 240 hours) in a field-based practicum (EPI 595)
  6. 9 to 18 thesis (EPI 700) credits
  7. Students may enroll in additional elective courses in epidemiology and other courses with substantial public health content with departmental approval, and for independent study (EPI 600) to bring the total to 63 credits. Public health-related 400-level courses taken as a graduate student at the UW may count toward total credits with departmental approval. Coursework without substantial public health content, and at the 300-level or below, does not count toward the degree.

MPH Specialized Program Options: The MPH degree offers specialized tracks as listed below. They have additional course, practicum and thesis requirements detailed on the program websites.

Master of Science

Degree Requirements

60 credits, to include:

  • 36 to 40 class credits
  • Core Courses: 24 graded credits, including EPI 512, EPI 513, EPI 514, BIOST 511, BIOST 512, BIOST 513. BIOST 517-BIOST 518 may be substituted for BIOST 511, BIOST 512, BIOST 513.
  • EPI 510, a prerequisite for EPI 514, is required for students without substantial SAS and Stata programming experience.
  • Electives: 6 credits of EPI course electives of 2 or more credits each. (See acceptable electives on the courses webpage at depts.washington.edu/epidem/courses)
  • School of Public Health Electives: Two additional 500-level courses (2 or more credits each) in any department of the School of Public Health (including Epidemiology) or other UW courses with significant public-health content. (See acceptable electives in the appropriate degree requirements checklist at depts.washington.edu/epidem/CurrentStudents.)
  • 9 to 18 thesis credits (EPI 700)

Students may enroll in additional elective courses in epidemiology and other relevant departments, and for independent study (EPI 600) to bring the total to 60 credits. Public health-related 400-level coursework taken as a graduate student at the UW may count toward total credits with departmental approval. Coursework unrelated to public health and at the 300-level or below does not count toward the degree.

MS Specialized Program Options:

Doctor of Philosophy

The curriculum includes courses on epidemiologic methods, and biostatistics. Electives in substantive disease and exposure areas, as well as research methods, are required. Requisite general electives from the School of Public Health are also part of the curriculum.

Degree Requirements

Minimum 90 total credits:

  1. Minimum reduced to 60 credits for students with a prior relevant master's degree (All course requirements must be satisfied even if more than 60 credits are needed to do so.)
  2. 54 to 66 class credits
  3. Core Courses: 32 graded credits including EPI 512, EPI 513, EPI 514, EPI 515, EPI 536 EPI 537, BIOST 517, BIOST 518. BIOST 511, BIOST 512, BIOST 513 may be substituted for BIOST 517-BIOST 518.
  4. EPI 510, a prerequisite for EPI 514, is required for students without substantial SAS or Stata programming experience.
  5. Required Non-graded Courses: EPI 528 (3), two quarters of EPI 584, EPI 588
  6. Minimum three required epidemiology electives (minimum 2 credits each). (See acceptable electives in the appropriate degree checklist at depts.washington.edu/epidem/CurrentStudents/.)
  7. 7. Three additional electives (minimum 2 credits each) from any department of the School of Public Health, including Epidemiology, or other UW courses with significant public health content
  8. Students are encouraged to take EPI 583 (1) each quarter of the first year and EPI 591 (1) each quarter after the first year.
  9. Dissertation: 27 credits of EPI 800
  10. The student's supervisory committee may require additional courses, including English language courses, to ensure that the student has adequate training in the area of epidemiology he or she is pursuing.
  11. Additional epidemiology courses and EPI 800 credits, independent study (EPI 600), and courses with substantial public health content offered by other departments or schools (with permission), may be applied to the total PhD credits. Public health-related, 400-level coursework taken as a graduate student at the UW may count toward total credits with departmental approval. Coursework unrelated to public health, and at the 300-level or below does not count toward the degree.

Financial Aid

Research assistantships (RA) for work on various projects provide salary and tuition waivers for students working 20 hours a week. Although funding is not guaranteed with admission, many new PhD and a few masterís students find a research assistantship by the start of their first autumn quarter. Most doctoral students have found an RA by their second or third quarter in the program, and many masterís students do so by their second year, when they have more of the skills that faculty supervisors need. Research training stipends with partial tuition support are available on a limited basis, especially for more advanced doctoral students. Teaching assistantships are available competitively for second-year and higher-level students. More information is at http://depts.washington.edu/epidem/funding/index.shtml.

Research Facilities

University facilities include an excellent library system and access to computers. Many varied opportunities for field research and practica are provided in Seattle and elsewhere in the state and nation, at institutions such as Seattle Children's hospital, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Group Health Research Institute, Harborview Medical Center, the Center for AIDS and STD, Public Health: Seattle-King County, Washington State Department of Health, VA Puget Sound Healthcare Systems, and many other local health institutions. Cooperating organizations focusing on global health also are available in Seattle and internationally. Additional, but not exhaustive, lists of cooperating agencies are at depts.washington.edu/epidem/research/Other_Institutions.shtml. A partial list of agencies and funding related to international health are listed at http://globalhealth.washington.edu/ghrc/funding-and-fieldwork.