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PhD Epidemiology

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Offered On Campus in Tucson

The UA Zuckerman College of Public Health offers the following doctoral degrees with a focus in epidemiology: Doctorate (PhD) in Epidemiology, and a PhD Minor in Epidemiology.

The PhD in Epidemiology is offered by the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Epidemiology is the scientific discipline concerned with the causes and prevention of human disease. Epidemiology focuses on the occurrence of disease among human populations, considering changes within populations over time and differences among and between populations in disease risk.

Epidemiologists today are involved in attempts to understand the causes and means of controlling AIDS and other infectious diseases, as well as chronic diseases including cancer and coronary heart disease. Much of our understanding of the links between sexual practices and AIDS risk, of smoking and cancer, of serum cholesterol and coronary heart disease, of obesity and mortality risk and of air pollution and chronic lung disease derives from epidemiologic studies.

The PhD in Epidemiology trains individuals for careers in research and teaching in academic settings, research institutes, government agencies and industry. It has been designed for students whose careers will focus on conducting investigator-initiated and collaborative epidemiologic research.

On average, the doctoral program requires approximately four to five years for completion. The first two years of this time are usually devoted to coursework, the qualifying exam, the comprehensive doctoral examinations, and development of doctoral research. The program is research oriented and centers on a major research project.

At least 46 credits are required for the major (including up to 10 units of independent study), plus a minimum of 18 dissertation units (EPID 920), and at least 9 units minimum for the minor (depending on minor department requirements). Consult the course listings for further details on specific course requirements and schedules.

The overall course of study will be developed by the student and the advisor and approved by the student's Graduate Committee and Chair of the Epidemiology Section.

Admission Criteria Application Deadlines How to Apply


PhD in Epidemiology Competencies

Electives (minimum 14 units)

14 or more units required; 9 of which must be in Epidemiology/Biostatistics, with at least (3) in BIOS units in a Biostatistics course beyond BIOS 576B).

Note: maximum of 10 units of Independent Study/Research Credit (EPID 599, 699, 799, 900).

Minor Courses (minimum 9 units)

Required minor units and examinations is dependent on the minor department requirements.

Dissertation (EPID 920, minimum 18 units)

Students will be required to defend their dissertation through a public presentation and oral examination with their committee.

Total Minimum Credit Requirements = 73 units

PhD Minor in Epidemiology

The PhD Minor in Epidemiology is designed for individuals from other University of Arizona doctoral degree programs who wish to obtain graduate training in Epidemiology.  A member of the primary Epidemiology faculty will serve as the Minor Advisor and sit on the student's graduate committee.

The PhD minor in Epidemiology is administered by the Epidemiology Graduate Program. A total of a minimum of 15 course units are required.*

The minor requires completion of the following:

Required Minor Courses (minimum 15 units)

*Note on required PhD minor in Epidemiology coursework:

  • Minor course prerequisites: It is the responsibility of the student to have met course prerequisites (if not already required for the student's major):
    • EPID 573A, Basic Principles of Epidemiology
  • Minor GPA Requirement: 3.5/4.0 scale in the required PhD Minor in Epidemiology courses.


Typical time to completion: 3-5 years (2-3 years for coursework, 1-2 years for dissertation work) for full-time students. 5-8 years for part-time students.

Average time to completion: 5.1

Program Steps to Completion (Full-time student timeline):

  • Attend mandatory new student orientation
  • Students are expected to serve as a Teaching Assistant at least once during their time in the program
  • First year is devoted to course work
  • Work with Faculty Advisor to develop a tentative Plan of Study
  • Each Spring, complete an Annual Progress Report with Faculty Advisor
  • End of first Spring, take and pass the Qualifying Exam
  • Second year is devoted to course work and forming Comprehensive Exam Committee
  • Formalize Plan of Study by end of second year
  • Second/third year formalize Committee Chair and Comprehensive Exam Committee
  • Develop a Dissertation Research Proposal and gain Committee approval
  • If necessary, begin process for human subjects approval for dissertation
  • Take and pass Comprehensive Exams (written and oral)
  • Form and formalize Dissertation Committee
  • Third/fourth year, research, develop and write dissertation
  • Fourth/fifth year, successfully defend dissertation and finalize revisions

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