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Department of Epidemiology

Doctoral Program

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Launching leaders in prevention and control of diseases.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The Ph.D. 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.

An M.P.H. in Epidemiology, or other relevant master's degree in a related discipline (for example, an M.S. in microbiology) is required prior to entrance into the Ph.D. program.Successful applicants lacking credit for any courses, laboratories, or field work equivalent to those of the University of Michigan School of Public Health M.P.H. 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, Graduate Record Examination 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. Prior agreement by a faculty member in the department to mentor a new student is an important consideration in acceptance of students into the Ph.D. program.

There are two major stages in the Ph.D. program to be completed prior to getting the Ph.D.degree: the pre-candidate stage and the candidate stage. The major tasks of the pre-candidates stage are 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 dissertation research to, and successfully complete that research with the ongoing guidance of a committee whose membership will be 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 Ph.D. program takes a total of 2.5 - 4 years to complete when a Master of Public Health (or other relevant degree) previously has been obtained. The time frame depends largely on how soon advancement to candidacy is achieved. Once advancement to candidacy has occurred the typical time required to graduate is 2 - 3 years. An optimal timeline might be admission for the fall term with a relevant master's degree, successful completion of the Competency Examination at the end of the following winter term, development and defense of the research prospectus within 6 - 12 months, and completion of the research effort (including its written presentation) in two years.

For a very detailed description of the Epidemiology Department's Ph.D. guidelines please view this PDF File: Ph.D. guidelines (PDF).

Information on the Ph.D. admissions process can be found at this link: Ph.D. Admissions