Epidemiology (MS)

Master of Science in Epidemiology (EPIDMSE)
Unit: School of Public Health and Information Sciences (GH)
Department: Epidemiology
Program Webpage

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 demonstrate the following competencies:

  1. 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
  2. Knowledge of the socioeconomic and geographic distribution, risk factors, and etiology of major acute, infectious and chronic morbidity and mortality.

  3. 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 additional requirements for admission:

  • Undergraduate GPA at least 3.0 on 4.0 scale
  • Official GRE scores taken within the past five years. Score greater than the 50th percentile on each of the quantitative and verbal sections is recommended.
  • If applicable, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score in at least 60th 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:

  • 14 credit hours of required coursework
  • 15 credit hours of elective coursework
  • 9 credit hours of thesis research
Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
PHEP 618 Epidemiologic Methods II 3
PHEP 622 Population Pathology 3
PHEP 648 Data Management and Analysis for Epidemiology I 1
Elective course 3
PHEP 702 Epidemiologic Research Management 3
PHEP 701 Advanced Epidemiologic Methods 3
PHEP 649 Data Management and Analysis for Epidemiology II 1
Elective course 3
Year 2
Elective courses 6
PHEP 666 Masters Independent Study in Epidemiology and Population Health 3
Elective course 3
PHEP 666 Masters Independent Study in Epidemiology and Population Health 6
 Minimum Total Hours38


Program requirements include five elective courses, of which at least one is in epidemiology (PHEP) and each of the remaining four in public health (PHxx). All epidemiology courses above PHEP-602 are pre-approved. All courses offered by other departments and programs in the school are also pre-approved elective courses in public health. Elective courses in epidemiology and biostatistics (PHST) are strongly encouraged.

Students may petition to take elective courses that are not pre-approved with approval of the student's faculty advisor and the program director or chair of the department or designee.

Selection of electives is done by the student and his or her faculty advisor with approval of the program director or chair of the department.

Elective courses may require prerequisites or permission of the course instructor.


A thesis is required of a candidate for the degree of Master of Science in Epidemiology. It is to be an original work of professional quality and the basis for one or more potentially publishable papers.

Thesis Committee

The thesis is read by a reading committee, chaired by the student's faculty advisor, and appointed by the dean of the school upon the recommendation of the chair of the department. This committee consists of three members and must include one representative of an allied department. The thesis must be approved by the committee and the chair of the department.

Thesis Proposal

The thesis proposal is to be developed in written form and presented to the thesis committee for approval. The thesis topic is to be one or more of the following:

  • Critical review of the contemporary epidemiologic literature on a specific disease, risk factor, or health related condition.
  • Meta-analysis of results from several epidemiologic studies of a specific disease.
  • Research report on analysis of collected data.
  • Evaluation of epidemiologic statistical methodology.

Thesis Preparation

The thesis is to be prepared in format and binding according to the guidelines established by the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, available at louisville.edu/graduate/current-students/thesis-dissertation-information.

Thesis Approval

The thesis is to be submitted in completed form to the chair of the thesis committee at least fifteen days before the end of the term in which the candidate expects to be graduated, and the candidate is not eligible for the final oral examination until the thesis has been accepted by the committee.

The thesis committee schedules an oral examination of the candidate. 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 School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies and the department’s administrative assistant.
  2. Submit as advised by the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies through the ThinkIR repository. The direction on submission will be provided upon review of the thesis by the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies.
  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 School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies.

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