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PhD in Epidemiology

Offering Department: 
Program Description: 

The Department of Epidemiology is home to a number of exciting projects, including the UCLA/Fogarty International HIV/AIDS Training Program, the NCI-Cancer Training Program, and the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund Inter-school Training Program in Metabolic Diseases. The Department has active research programs in cancer, molecular/genetic, environmental and occupational epidemiology, neurodegeneration and aging-related diseases, diabetes, infectious diseases and research methodology. 

Epidemiology focuses on the health problems in population groups. The scope of this exciting field ranges from the study of the causes of disease to the control of prevention of disease and the distribution of health resources. Epidemiologists study the variation of disease in relation to age, sex, race, occupational and social characteristics, place of residence, susceptibility, exposure to specific agents or other relevant factors. The PhD in Epidemiology is geared towards students who wish to pursue a career in teaching and/or research in universities or research organizations. Students follow an intensive curriculum in the area of methodology and biomedical sciences and usually minor in a mathematical, biologic, or social science. 

Program Requirements

The PhD in Epidemiology requires the completion of at least 72 quarter-credit units.

Course Requirements

The student must fulfill the training equivalent to the course requirements for the MS degree in Epidemiology with a combined GPA of no less than 3.56 in Epidem 200A, 200B, and 200C (minimum of A- in two courses, B+ in one course). PhD students must also take Epidem M204 (4 units), an additional statistics course beyond the MS requirements (4 units), one course on pathobiology (4 units), and at least three quarters of a doctoral seminar course of which Epidem 292 is taken at least twice. The statistics and pathobiology courses must be approved by the doctoral adviser.  PhD students who do not have a degree from a Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)-accredited public health school, must take PH C201 to meet the CEPH required 12 learning objectives. Students are to consult their academic advisers for recommendations on course selection.

Advanced Doctoral Seminar

All doctoral students must enroll in a doctoral seminar in three quarters of their tenure. Epidemiology 292 must be taken at least two of the three times, with the option of taking an approved course as the third seminar. To enroll in a doctoral seminar, students must establish they have successfully passed the Written Qualifying Exam.  Students must enroll in at least one of the three prior to their Oral Qualifying Exam (preliminary proposal) during which time they must present their oral defense. Doctoral students are strongly encouraged, but not required, to present a second time in a later doctoral seminar after they have advanced as preparation for their Final Oral Exam (dissertation defense).

Enrollment in a seminar course as a Masters student is not applicable to this requirement as a doctoral student.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations

In order to advance to candidacy, students must pass the departmental written doctoral examination and the Oral Qualifying Examination. Normally for the written doctoral examination no more than one re-examination is allowed. A doctoral committee is nominated and submitted to the Graduate Division and, if approved, administers the oral qualifying examination after successful completion of the written examination. All committee members must participate in the Oral Qualifying Examination.

After completing the course requirements, and passing both the written doctoral examination and the oral qualifying examination, the student may be advanced to candidacy and complete work on a dissertation in the principal field of study.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students are advanced to candidacy upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.

Final Oral Examination (Defense of the Dissertation)

Required of all students in the program. All committee members must participate in the Final Oral Examination and Dissertation Defense.


The approved normative time-to-degree is 14 quarters (5 years). Maximum allowable time for the attainment of the degree is 24 quarters of enrollment (8 years). This limitation includes quarters enrolled in previous graduate study at a UC campus prior to admission to the doctoral degree program and leaves of absence. 


Desired Qualifications

In addition to the University minimum admission requirements, the department requires:

  • Satisfactory performance on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE);
  • At least a 3.0 junior/senior grade-point average and at least a 3.5 grade-point average in graduate studies; and
  • Approval by the department admissions committee, an academic adviser, and the department chair.

Admissions Process

The deadline for graduate applications is December 1 for admission to the coming Fall academic quarter in the ensuing year. Early applications are encouraged, to ensure timely receipt of all required documentation. Applications received after the December 1st deadline may be considered, but will have reduced opportunities for admission, financial support, and housing.

The application process has three steps. You must:

  1. Submit an on-line application and pay the application fee at SOPHAS,
  2. Submit an online application and pay the application fee at UCLA Graduate Admissions, and
  3. Mail required academic documents and test scores to SOPHAS and to UCLA's School of Public Health.

Official documents are due to UCLA after an offer of admission and upon submitting the Statement of Intent to Register (SIR).

For complete application instructions and the list of required materials, review the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Admission Application Check List and Submission Instructions.

Tuition and Fees

For the most up to date fees and more information on fee breakdown, visit the registrar's office.

Please see FSPH Financial Opportunities page for information on awards, scholarships, training opportunities, employment, summer internship funding, and need-based aid. Please note that opportunities listed under 'Summer Internship Funding' are only applicable to MPH students.


An epidemiologist may work in a wide variety of settings, including international health agencies, state and local health departments, federal government agencies and health programs, health maintenance organizations, colleges and universities, and numerous research institutions, both privately and publicly sponsored. Given the academic nature of the PhD degree, many graduates pursue careers in research and teaching.

Faculty in this Department

For a list of faculty in this department, please click here.

To search all School of Public Health faculty members by name, department or area of expertise, click here.

Helpful Links

Who to Contact for More Information

For more information, contact Joy Miller at or 310.206.3901.


*This information is intended as an overview, and should be used as a guide only. Requirements, course offerings and other elements may change, and this overview may not list all details of the program. For the most up-to-date information, please consult the registrar’s office.

* Admission requirements listed are departmental requirements, and are in addition to the University's minimum requirements. Many programs receive more applicants than can be admitted, so meeting the minimum requirements for admission does not ensure admission. Every effort is made to ensure minimum admissions requirements are up to date - for the most up-to-date information on the University's minimum requirements, please visit the UCLA Graduate Division.

** Fees are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. For the most up to date fees and more information on fee breakdown, visit the registrar's office.