PhD in Epidemiology

The PhD in epidemiology is offered through Emory’s Laney Graduate School. This program trains students to become independent investigators and to obtain skills to be successful in PhD-level positions in academia, government, and the private sector.

40 Primarily Appointed Faculty         60 + Jointly Appointed Faculty 
100+ Adjunct Faculty         40-50 Students Enrolled in The Program at Any Given Time

What You Will Learn and Do

The curriculum for the doctoral program in epidemiology includes rigorous training in epidemiological and biostatistical methods. Elective coursework requires students to apply these methods to a particular substantive area. In addition to traditional courses, students learn through research assistantships and teacher training. 

Our Alumni

Graduates of the department have gone on to find work at settings such as: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pharmaceutical and insurance companies (Humana, Amgen), nonprofit organizations (such as The Task Force for Global Health and American Cancer Society), and colleges and universities.

Our Faculty

Students learn from our department's faculty, as well as faculy from the Hubert Department of Global Health, the Department of Environmental Health, and the Emory School of Medicine. Students' dissertation committees often include faculty from organizations outside of the school and university, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Cancer Society. 

Search faculty interests 

Frequently Asked Questions


Application Deadline

Dec 1, 2017

The application will open in September through Laney Graduate School (not through SOPHAS)


Admission Requirements and Instructions

How to Apply

To apply, applicants must have: 

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university
  • College-level biology and calculus are required. These courses must be complete no later than December 18, 2017 for Fall 2018 consideration. Applications that do not meet the calculus and biology requirement will not be considered. Applicants are specifically asked in the application to identify where on their transcript we will find the pre-requisites met. Please see the FAQ section for more information on the calculus requirement.

The application includes: 

  • GRE scores taken within the last five years. Scores in the 60th percentile or higher are recommended.
  • Application + $75 application fee.
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Graduate faculty identification- on the application, students should identify at least two epidemiology graduate faculty members with whom they would like to work. Here is a list of faculty available to mentor students entering Fall 2018.
  • Statement of purpose: In 500 words or fewer, please tell us about your previous research experiences or training leading you to apply to this program. Please share your research interests, how this program addresses your interests, and your long-term goals after earning a doctoral degree.
  • Unofficial transcripts from each post-secondary institution you have attended.
  •  Resume/CV
  • For applicants with post-secondary degrees from a non-US institution, WES course-by-course evaluations are strongly recommended.

The Department receives over 150 applications a year for eight to ten spaces. Admitted students most often have:

  • An advanced degree in epidemiology or related field
  • A clear, concise statement of purpose
  • Defined research interests
  • Outstanding recommendations from faculty and supervisors
  • Some professional/research experience
  • Excellent GRE scores

Applicants are strongly encouraged to carefully review the interest areas of Rollins epidemiology faculty to ensure that there are faculty with similar interests.

View our FAQs page for more info. 

In addition to these requirements, all departments require international students to submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores.

TOEFL scores should be at least 100 or higher on the Internet-based test. International applicants who earned an undergraduate or two year graduate degree from an institution within the United States are waived from the TOEFL requirement.

A World Education Service (WES) course-by-course report is STRONGLY recommended of all students who have received a baccalaureate and/or advanced degree from a non-US institution. This does not include students who completed a semester study abroad as part of a US degree.

After the Department of Epidemiology reviews applications, a portion of applicants will be invited for on-campus interviews. It is very unlikely that an applicant not invited to interview would receive an offer of admission. Interview dates for 2018 will be in early February.

All admitted PhD students receive merit-based support packages consisting of full tuition scholarships each year. The first two years students are typically funded from institutional support from Laney Graduate School or Training Grants (pending satisfactory progress in the program). In years three through five, students in good standing are funded through mentor grants, training grants, pre-doctoral training fellowships, etc. As of 2017-2018, doctoral students receive annual stipends of $23,376.

Training grants currently support some EPI PhD students with the following interests and research areas:  1) Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology, 2) Molecules to Mankind (M2M), 3) Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology, and 4) Health Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease. Laney Graduate School also offers Professional Development Funding and Training (to attend conferences and for research).

Degree Requirements

Through required coursework, students receive a strong foundation in epidemiological methods and biostatistics and become proficient on how, when, and why to use specific tools or methods. All students are required to select six hours of EPI electives to gain content knowledge and experience in applying epidemiologic methods within a particular area. The PhD Program Handbook may be viewed here.


All PhD students must participate in the Teaching Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunities (TATTO) program. Students receive an orientation to effective teaching and a course on teaching techniques in the field and gain experience working as supervised teaching assistants and/or classroom instructors or co-instructors. More about TATTO

Comprehensive Exam

After completing all required coursework, with a B average or greater, students take a comprehensive exam. The exam evaluates students’ abilities in the application of theory, research methods, and analysis to important public health topics. After passing the exam, students are encouraged to select a doctoral dissertation committee.

Research Assistantships

All EPI PhD students participate in two at least two, 200-hour research assistantships during their time enrolled during the program (usually during the first two years). Research Assistantships may include (but are not limited to) literature review, survey design, primary data collection, data management and analysis, and manuscript development.


All PhD students are required to complete and defend a dissertation. Students are encouraged to begin exploring potential research topics as soon as they enter the program by meeting with faculty

The doctoral dissertation must meet the requirements of both the department and Laney Graduate School. In particular, the dissertation must make a new contribution to the student’s field of study, or present a unique new interpretation on existing knowledge. Students are required to pass an oral defense of the dissertation proposal. 

Jones Program in Ethics

Students receive training in ethics in research both through the Department of Epidemiology and the Laney Graduate School.  Within the required Epidemiology PhD coursework, students may gain exposure to topics such as ethics in human subject research, data management, and scientific writing.  The Laney Graduate School sponsors numerous seminars and workshops on scholarly integrity.

Student Life

All EPI PhD students participate in a weekly journal club during lunchtime in the fall and spring semesters.  This provides an opportunity not only to review and critique current literature but also to foster camaraderie among students and faculty. In addition, PhD student representatives organize social activities for students on a monthly basis.

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