Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Health Sciences - Epidemiology

The Epidemiology concentration in the Public Health Sciences PhD program focuses on the analysis of the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It provides rigorous, comprehensive training in epidemiologic methods for clinical and population-based research including study design, statistical analysis and interpretation of results. The concentration is based on the premise that knowledge of genetic, physiologic, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to understanding the underlying causes of complex human diseases needed to develop and evaluate effective preventive and treatment measures.

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Learning Goals

PhD Program Goals

  • Develop effective strategies for teaching in higher education
  • Review and synthesize pertinent literature and formulate focused research questions that address identified knowledge gaps
  • Design and conduct original research that uniquely contributes to the public health scientific knowledge
  • Disseminate research findings through appropriate peer-reviewed publications and presentations, and to other public health community audiences

Major Competencies

  • Design investigations of acute and chronic conditions, as well as other adverse health outcomes in targeted populations.
  • Analyze and evaluate data from epidemiologic investigations, and disease and injury surveillance systems.
  • Evaluate health behaviors and outcomes in populations by such variables as age, sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and disability.
  • Critically evaluate results of epidemiologic studies, including study design, analysis results, and conclusions.
  • Prepare written and oral reports and presentations to effectively communicate to professional audiences, policymakers, and the general public.
  • Prepare research proposals for extramural peer-reviewed funding.
  • Promote and model ethical conduct in epidemiologic practice.
  • Bring epidemiologic perspectives to the development and analysis of public health policies.
View WVU Catalog for Learning Goals

Required Courses

The first two years of the program emphasize research and statistical methods complemented by theoretical and process oriented coursework relevant to Epidemiology. The last two years will largely be dedicated to dissertation research. The program takes approximately three years for a student with an MPH in Epidemiology and four years for a student without an MPH degree in Epidemiology.

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Admissions Guidelines

  • A master’s degree in epidemiology or public health is recommended but not required, or closely related field from an accredited college or university (minimum GPA of 3.0).
  • The GRE is optional for the fall 2023 cohort. For more information, visit
  • A completed PhD application, including a Statement of Purpose.

If a student has not taken departmentally approved graduate coursework prior to admission to the PhD program, they will be required to successfully complete a minimum of 80 graduate hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. If a student has previously completed a departmentally approved MPH or MS degree prior to admission to the PhD program, they will be required to successfully complete a minimum of 58 graduate hours beyond the master’s degree. If a student has previously completed some graduate credit, they may transfer a maximum of 12 graduate hours of coursework into the PhD program.

View WVU Catalog for Admissions Guidelines
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