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.
PhD in Epidemiology
What You Will Learn and Do
The Doctoral Program in Epidemiology at Emory University trains students in the methods of epidemiology and the application of these methods to a broad scope of public health and medical problems. Areas of study include, but are not limited to, cancer, cardiovascular disease, maternal and child health, diet/nutrition and physical activity, epidemiologic methods, infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS), genetics and molecular epidemiology, social epidemiology, and health disparities. The goal of the program is to graduate epidemiologists with the knowledge, skills, and philosophy to be influential lead researchers (principal investigators), teachers of epidemiology, and public health officials.
Graduates of the department have gone on to find work at settings such as: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pharmaceutical companies (such as Humana, Amgen), nonprofit organizations (such as The Task Force for Global Health and American Cancer Society), and colleges and universities.
Students learn from our department's faculty, as well as faculty 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.
The application for prospective students seeking to matriculate in Fall 2020 will open in September. The application is through Laney Graduate School (not through SOPHAS).
Admission Requirements and Instructions
To apply, applicants must have:
- Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university
- College-level biology and calculus. These courses must be complete with a grade posted no later than December 20, 2019 for Fall 2020 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:
- Completed 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 who were available to mentor students entering Fall 2019. This list will be updated for Fall 2020 no later than September 2019.
- 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.
- GRE scores taken within the last five years.
- Optional Diversity Statement.
- For applicants with post-secondary degrees from a non-US institution, WES course-by-course evaluations are strongly recommended.
The Department receives more than 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
- Strong 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.
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. If an international applicant is currently completing a two year degree in the United States at the time of application, the TOEFL does not need to be submitted. For example, if an international student is currently pursuing a two year MPH that will be completed prior to matriculation in the PhD program, the TOEFL is not required.
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. This process takes weeks to complete and applicants are encouraged to start this process very early.
After the Department of Epidemiology reviews applications, a portion of applicants will be invited for an on-campus visit. It is very unlikely that an applicant not invited to visit would receive an offer of admission. Visit dates are most often a Thursday and Friday within the first two weeks of February. Once dates are confirmed, they will be posted here.
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. The stipends are set at the NIH pre-doctoral training level. As of 2019-2020, doctoral students receive annual stipends of $31,000.
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), and 3) Health Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease. Laney Graduate School also offers Professional Development Funding and Training (to attend conferences and for research).
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
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.
All EPI PhD students participate in a weekly doctoral seminar 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.