Doctoral Program in Epidemiologic Science

The PhD program in Epidemiologic Science is administered by the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Its objective is to produce scientists who are expert in recognition and investigation of those basic aspects of etiology and pathogenesis of disease relevant to prevention and control of infectious and non-infectious diseases. Graduates are qualified for positions in academia, research institutes, government, and industry.

View Current Doctoral Student Profiles

An MPH in Epidemiology, or other relevant master's degree in a related discipline (for example, an MS in microbiology), is required prior to entrance into the PhD program. Successful applicants lacking credit for any courses, laboratories, or fieldwork equivalent to those of the University of Michigan School of Public Health MPH Program in Epidemiology are expected to make up these deficiencies during their initial stage of studies. The field work/laboratory requirement is waived for students with a professional doctoral degree and for others who have documented evidence of employment in a relevant area.

Applicants are evaluated on the basis of undergraduate and graduate academic records, GRE scores or equivalents, letters of recommendation, and commitment to a career in epidemiology or research in a laboratory science. In addition, potential students should list which faculty they are interested in working with. Potential for matching with a faculty mentor is an important consideration in acceptance to the PhD program. You are strongly encouraged to reach out to potential mentors during the application process.

There are two major stages in the program to be completed prior to getting the PhD degree: the pre-candidate stage and the candidate stage. The major task of the pre-candidate stage is to prepare for and successfully complete the Competency Examination, usually within the first year of enrollment. The major tasks at the candidate stage are to conduct dissertation research and to successfully complete that research with the ongoing guidance of a committee whose membership will be selected by the student and primary mentor. This research program is then presented and defended as a "dissertation defense," the penultimate event in achieving the doctoral degree.

Typically, a PhD program takes a total of four years to complete when a Master of Public Health (or other relevant degree) has previously been obtained. The time frame depends largely on how soon advancement to candidacy is achieved. Once advancement to candidacy has occurred (usually after one year), students typically develop and defend their research prospectus the following year and complete their research effort (including its written presentation) in two years.

For a very detailed description of the Epidemiology Department's PhD guidelines please view the PhD guidelines (PDF).


Visit the Admissions & Aid section of the U-M SPH site for details on the application process and financial aid options. Additional information for international applicants can be found here.