Epidemiology (MS)

Master of Science in Epidemiology
Unit: School of Public Health and Information Sciences (GH)
Department: Epidemiology
Program Website 
Academic Plan Code(s): EPIDMSE

Program Information

The Master of Science (MS) in Epidemiology program is designed to prepare students for the PhD program in Public Health Sciences with a concentration in Epidemiology. The MS in Epidemiology is offered by the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health.


To graduate, students in the MS program in epidemiology must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher and 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
  • Summarize scientific literature on an epidemiologic problem
  • Formulate epidemiologic research questions and testable 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

In greater detail, an MS student must specifically demonstrate:

  • Mastery of the principles of epidemiologic, observational study design, including:
    • The merits and limitations of cross-sectional, retrospective and prospective designs
    • Methods of disease surveillance and case ascertainment
    • Methods of population-based sampling
    • Sample size and statistical power calculation
    • Issues in the measurement of exposure and disease transmission
    • Identification and correct interpretation of potential biases in study design
  • Knowledge of the socioeconomic and geographic distribution, risk factors, and etiology of major acute, infectious and chronic morbidity and mortality.
  • Mastery of basic methods of analysis of epidemiologic data, including:
    • Measures of disease frequency, prevalence and incidence
    • Methods for adjusting rates for age, gender, etc.
    • Measures of association, odds ratio, relative risk
    • Control of confounding and effect modification through stratification and statistical control
    • Modeling in multiple logistic regression
    • Principles of survival analysis
    • Correct interpretation of results with regard to issues of error, bias and criteria for causality

These competencies are demonstrated through the successful completion of the coursework and the design, execution, documentation, and presentation of the research for the student’s thesis.


The program is designed as a two-year program of coursework and thesis research and preparation. The student is expected to develop and plan his or her thesis research prior to the final semester in which the majority of the actual research is done.

Faculty Advisor

Upon admission to the MS program, each student is assigned a faculty advisor by the department chair or program director. Students and/or advisors who wish to change their assigned relationship must make a written request to the department chair or program director.

The student and his or her faculty advisor work together to develop a program of study that recognizes the student's research interests and core elements of modern epidemiology and its breadth and multidisciplinary nature.

Admission Requirements

Students with a prior baccalaureate degree, or an advanced degree in an appropriate field of study, from a regionally accredited university or college are eligible for the MS program in Epidemiology.

Previous coursework in mathematics and/or statistics and biological or health sciences (for example, biology, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, and/or microbiology) is strongly recommended. Applicants who are judged to not have sufficient prior coursework or experience in these areas may be required to take additional coursework.

The following are required for admission:

  • Formal application through SOPHAS 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 taken within the past five years, and score greater than the fiftieth percentile on each of the quantitative and verbal sections is recommended, and
  • If applicable, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score in at least the sixtieth percentile.

Program Requirements

Degree requirements include required coursework in epidemiology, elective coursework in biostatistics and in public health sciences, and a thesis.

38 total credit hours:

  • 20 credit hours of required coursework
  • 12 credit hours of elective coursework
  • 6 credit hours of thesis research
Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
PHEP 621 Statistical Foundations for Epidemiology 3
PHEP 622 Population Pathology 3
PHEP 623 Theoretical Foundations of Epidemiology 3
PHEP 648 Data Management and Analysis for Epidemiology I 1
Content Course Elective 1 3
Public Health Selective 2 3
PHEP 618 Epidemiologic Methods II 3
PHEP 649 Data Management and Analysis for Epidemiology II 1
PHEP 666 Master's Independent Study in Epidemiology and Population Health (optional) 3 0-3
Year 2
PHEP 701 Advanced Epidemiologic Methods 3
PHEP 702 Epidemiologic Research Management 3
Content Course Elective 1 3
Content Course elective 1 3
PHEP 666 Master's Independent Study in Epidemiology and Population Health 3 3-6
 Minimum Total Hours38


The thesis is expected to be a scholarly achievement in research that demonstrates a thorough understanding of research techniques in epidemiology. It is expected to be original, professional quality, and worthy of publication, in whole or in part, in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Thesis Committee

A thesis committee consists of three faculty members. The committee chair must be an active, full-time faculty member in the Department of Epidemiology & Population Health.  At least one member must be from another department in SPHIS, another school or unit in the university, or outside of the university pending approval of graduate faculty status.  In all cases, the majority of a committee must hold primary appointments in the department.

Thesis Proposal

Students are required to submit a written proposal and make a formal oral presentation to their committee before embarking on thesis research.  The proposal should include a brief, but comprehensive literature review supporting an acceptable research rationale, hypotheses and specific aims, a proposed study design, a preliminary outline of methods, a list of resources, and a tentative timetable.  The committee will discuss with the student any revisions needed before the student can progress with their research.

Thesis Preparation

The thesis is to be prepared in format and binding according to the guidelines established by the Graduate School.

Thesis Approval

The written thesis must be submitted in completed form to all members of the committee at least thirty (30) days before the end of the term in which the candidate expects to graduate

The student must schedule their oral defense at least two weeks in advance so that the time and place for the oral presentation may be posted to the faculty and students of SPHIS and general academic community who are free to attend.  The student should also pay close attention to university deadlines for submitting their work to the Graduate School and in relation to graduation.

The thesis is approved by a majority vote of the committee.

Thesis Submission

The following steps must be taken to submit the final copy of the thesis electronically after oral defense and approval of the committee:

  1. Final document must be converted to a PDF (following the guidelines as noted above) and sent to the Graduate School and the department’s administrative assistant.
  2. Submit as advised by the Graduate School through the ThinkIR repository. The direction on submission will be provided upon review of the thesis by the Graduate School.
  3. The signature page within the electronic version must have the names of your committee members typed under the signature line; the signatures cannot be scanned into the document.
  4. Submit a signed signature page on white paper, with original signatures, to the Graduate School.

A copy of the final, signed thesis must also be deposited with the department office.