Epidemiology Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general University requirements for admission to graduate study, applicants to the graduate program in epidemiology are expected to:

  1. Hold a master's or doctoral degree from a college or university of recognized standing approved by the New York State Regents. Exceptional students with bachelor's degrees will be considered;
  2. Have a concentration (major) in the biological, physical, or social sciences, computer science, mathematics, public health, or statistics;*
  3. Provide three letters of recommendation from academic advisors or other faculty members familiar with the applicant; **
  4. Submit scores of the Graduate Record Examination or Medical College Aptitude Test. ***

Advanced standing may be allowed in accordance with University policy for applicants who have completed graduate programs or courses elsewhere. Students may apply for admission with advanced standing for a maximum of 30 graduate credits. Courses may also be waived for students with demonstrated competence in the subject area, e.g., computer programming/data management; but all students must complete a minimum of 30 graduate course credits at the University at Albany for the Ph.D. in Epidemiology.

* Students with concentrations in other areas may be admitted on the basis of relevant work experience, contingent upon the completion of necessary course work. Students lacking sufficient preparation in the biological sciences will be required to take additional courses in this area during their first semester.

** For candidates whose academic record predates the application by five years or more, letters of recommendation may be submitted by supervisors.

***These test scores may be waived in some cases.

Part-Time Study

Part-time study is permitted. However, students must be continuously registered and fulfill the University's one year full-time study in residence requirement. In accordance with University policy, all degree requirements must be completed within eight years.

Degree Requirements

In general, the requirements for the Ph.D. degree follow the policies and procedures set forth by the University at Albany. The program in epidemiology requires a minimum of 60 graduate course credits beyond the baccalaureate plus registration for and completion of a satisfactory doctoral dissertation. Students are required to meet the requirements for the M.S. in epidemiology along with additional course work. Students are expected to devote at least one year to the research and writing of an acceptable dissertation. The course of study of each student is planned with a faculty advisor who takes into account the student's previous preparation, area of specialization, and professional objectives. In addition to the core courses, supporting courses, and field placement at the masters level (or their equivalent), the following course work is required:

  1. A minimum of four advanced methodology courses (12 credits) approved by the advisor. One of these must be Epi 601 General Topics in Epidemiologic Methods; two must be graduate-level statistics courses offered by the Department of Biometry and Statistics or other graduate departments.
  2. A minimum of 14 credits of supporting graduate courses approved by the academic advisor including an area of specialization. Further courses may be required at the discretion of the dissertation committee.

Field Placement

Students are required to complete a field placement during which the student works closely with a faculty member of the Department of Epidemiology on actual epidemiologic projects including experience in the areas of study design, data management and analysis. This requirement can be met by completion of Epi 690 Field Placement, or by equivalent experience obtained in a prior degree program, in a work setting or as part of the dissertation. The acceptability of equivalent experience is determined by the Department's academic committee.

Research Tool

Proficiency in computer programming/data management fulfills the research tool requirement.

Qualifying Examination

Upon completion of all required courses, each doctoral candidate must pass a two-part written qualifying examination before admission to candidacy. The first part covers general epidemiologic and appropriate biostatistical principles and methods. The second part covers the student's chosen specialty area in epidemiology. Ordinarily, both parts of the exam are administered in the same semester.

Full Time Study in Residence

Each student in a doctoral program must engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two sessions after admission to the advanced program. This requirement is designed to insure for each doctoral student a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. For this purpose a student will enroll in full-time study (12 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive, which must be completed satisfactorily, except as indicated here:

  1. Students authorized to register for work on a dissertation may meet this 12 credit per session requirement by satisfactorily completing a minimum of 8 earned course credits and registering for work on the dissertation for load credits that will bring the total to 12 credits for each of two sessions.
  2. Graduate assistants holding a full assistantship may meet the residency requirement by completing one academic year in such a position, including the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 15 registered credits during the year plus satisfactory completion of assigned duties.

Admission to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory record in course and research study (minimum GPA of 3.0);
  2. Completion of the University's full-time study in residence requirement;
  3. Satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement;
  4. Satisfactory completion of the qualifying examination; and
  5. Approval by the student's committee of a proposed dissertation topic.


The Ph.D. dissertation is part of each candidate's curriculum for the doctorate. The dissertation committee must approve the form and content of the dissertation, which must represent an original and significant contribution in the field of epidemiology. The chair of the dissertation committee must be a member of the Department of Epidemiology; the committee consists of a minimum of three members, all of whom must hold the rank of assistant professor or above. One of the committee members must be from outside the Department of Epidemiology. The dissertation topic, proposed study design, methods, and detailed analysis plan must be presented in writing to and approved by the committee before the student initiates dissertation research. Outside readers may be included at the discretion of the committee. The dissertation must be approved by and successfully defended before the dissertation committee; the defense is open to the University community.


Each Ph.D. candidate is required to take part in and demonstrate competence in the teaching of epidemiology. Satisfaction of this requirement is determined by the Department's Academic Committee.