Course of Study

Core Coursework

The doctoral program in epidemiology requires a minimum of 135 credits.

Within the formal program requirements, students will achieve program competencies within (i) 27 credits of epidemiology methods core courses, (ii) 15 credits of biostatistics courses, (iii) a public health core of 12 credits, (iv) electives composed to allow students to focus on content and methods of a substantive area, (v) other electives, including Committee directions, and (vi) at least 31 credits of training for thesis/dissertation and teaching.

Accepted students with graduate level training in epidemiology may apply to transfer up to 45 credit hours of relevant coursework into the program. The Table below summarizes the Program Requirements and available course options.


Summary of Epidemiology PhD Curriculum

updated November 14, 2014

Prerequisites (credits from these courses do not apply to the PhD):
  • Graduate introductory course in epidemiology or permission to enroll
  • Graduate introductory course in biostatistics, statistics, or permission to enroll
  • Graduate level human biology or pathophysiology course or permission
Epidemiology Methods Core:  27 required credits
PHPM 513 Epidemiology II* 4 transferable
PHPM 514 Epidemiology III* 4 transferable
PHPM 636 Epidemiology Data Analysis & Interpretation* 4  
PHPM 568 Infectious Disease Epidemiology 2 transferable
PHPM 576 Chronic Disease Epidemiology 2 transferable
PHPM 630 Epidemiology Doctoral Journal Club* 2 must take for at least 2 terms, 1 credit per term
PHPM 610 Epidemiology Doctoral Methods Seminar* 4 transferable
PHPM 540 Introduction to Research Design* 3 transferable
Biostatistics Core:  15 required credits
BSTA 514
BSTA 519
Survival Analysis*
Longitudinal Data Analysis*
3 students must choose one class or the other to fulfill this requirement (transferable)
BSTA 515 Data Management (SAS)* 3 transferable
BSTA 612 Linear Models* 4 transferable
BSTA 613 Categorical Data Analysis* 4 transferable
Public Health Core: 12 required credits
PHPM 520
CONJ 650
Ethics & Epidemiology
The Practice and Ethics of Science
3 or 1 transferable
TBA Social Determinants & Disparities in Public Health 4
PHPM 517 PHPM 518
PHPM 519
Public Health Cognate:
(i) environmental health
(ii) policy
(iii) behavioral science



* student must choose two of the three

Approved Methods Electives: 12+ credits from the following
BSTA 516 Design & Analysis of Surveys 3 transferable
BSTA 517 Statistical Methods in Clinical Trials 3 transferable
BSTA 518 Spatial Data with GIS 3 transferable
BSTA 611 Estimation & Hypothesis Testing in Applied Biostatistics 4
GIS 588 Geographic Information Systems 4 PSU course
GEOG 597 Spatial Quantitative Analysis 4 PSU course
SOC 686 Topics in Health & Inequality 4 PSU course
PHPM 567 Global Health Epidemiology 3 transferable
HIP 517 Scientific Writing 2 transferable
PHPM 556 HIV/AIDS Epidemiology 3 transferable
PHPM 640 Mentored Research Experience 2-6 Repeat for up to 6 credits towards 12-credit requirement
Approved Other Electives: 10+ elective credits from the following
BMI 512 Clinical Information Systems 3 transferable
BMI 582 Healthcare Management Information Governance 3 transferable
BMI 610 Introduction to Biomedical and Health Informatics 3 transferable
BMI 614 Information Retrieval 3 transferable
BMI 621 Public Health Informatics 3 transferable
BMI 637 Healthcare Quality 3 transferable
BSTA 550 Introduction to Probability 3 prerequisite: one year of calculus
BSTA 551 Mathematical Statistics I 3 prerequisite: one year of calculus
BSTA 552 Mathematical Statistics II 3 prerequisite: BSTA 551
HIP 527 Systematic Reviews 2 transferable
HIP 509 Systematic Review Practicum 1-6 transferable
HIP 530 Influence & Effective Communication: Leading Research Teams 2 transferable
NUTN 530 Nutrition & Global Health 3 transferable
PHPM 553 Women's Health Epidemiology 3 transferable
PHPM 572 Adolescent Risky Behavior Epidemiology 3 transferable
Other Requirements: 31+ credits from the following
PHPM 660 Epidemiology Mentored Teaching 1  
  EPI Qualifying Examination 0  
PHPM 603 Epidemiology Dissertation Credits 30+  

*Courses must be completed with grades of A or B prior to taking qualifying exams.


 Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is taken after the student has finished all required methodology coursework.Required course are noted in the Table above (*). The exam is administered and evaluated by the Program Exam Committee and is designed to test the student's competence in epidemiology. In general, a student with a completed masters degree in epidemiology would be prepared to take the qualifying exam at the completion of one additional academic year having completed at least the courses noted above (*). No student will have the requirement of a qualifying exam waived.



PhD candidacy requires the submission of a dissertation proposal to the Dissertation Committee and an oral defense.Successful dissertation proposals establish the viability of a project and its potential contribution to scholarship in a content area and in epidemiology methods.The dissertation is a book-length manuscript built upon a thorough review of the relevant academic literature, informed theoretical reasoning, and original research and analysis.It is defended in an oral presentation that lays out the dissertation project's purpose, implementation, findings, and contribution to scholarship.