Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology

UCLA Fielding School of Public Health


The PhD in Epidemiology, for individuals aspiring to careers in research and/or teaching within universities or research organizations, trains students through an intensive curriculum in methodology. Doctoral students typically complete additional specialized training in a mathematical, biologic, or social science.

  • Program Requirements

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

    1. 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 should consult their academic advisers for recommendations on course selection.

    2. 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.

    3. Written and Oral Doctoral Qualifying Examinations

    In order to advance to candidacy, students must pass the departmental written doctoral examination and the oral qualifying examination. No more than one re-examination is typically allowed for the written doctoral examination. 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.

    4. Advancement to Candidacy

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

    5. Final Oral Examination (Defense of Dissertation)

    Required of all students in the program. All committee members must participate in the final oral examination and dissertation defense.

  • Time to Degree

    The approved typical time-to-degree is 14 quarters (five years). Maximum allowable time for the attainment of the degree is 24 quarters of enrollment (eight 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. 

  • Department Faculty

    View a list of faculty in the Department of Epidemiology.

  • Career Outcomes

    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.

    Examples of positions held by graduates include:

    • Tenure-Track Faculty
    • Chief Epidemiologist
    • Principal Investigator
    • Health Statistician
    • Health Effects Officer
    • Research and Evaluation Director
    • Director of Epidemiologic Research
  • Tuition & Fees

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

    Please see the cost and aid section of our website 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.

    Cost & Aid
  • Admissions

    Desired Qualifications

    In addition to the University minimum admission requirements, prior training in epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as research experience is considered in the evaluation of applicants for admissions.

    • 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

    Visit the application guide to learn about our admissions process.

    Application Guide
Please note:
  • 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. 

  • 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.

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