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Schools for Aspiring Epidemiologists: How to Choose

Epidemiology programs teach students about the origins of diseases and developing containment methods to alleviate the risks they pose. A graduate degree in epidemiology or public health is usually required for employment.

Students interested in studying epidemiology can find programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. A master's degree in public health is the most common degree and concentration for students interested in becoming practicing epidemiologists.

Top 10 Public Health Schools

In 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked the following schools as the public health schools. Listed schools offer programs in public health and/or epidemiology.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (In-state, 2015-2016)
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Postgraduate certificate $48,710 (undergraduate), $48,710 (graduate)
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral $41,832
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral $9,143
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral, Postgraduate certificate $20,638
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral, Postgraduate certificate $42,280
University of Washington Seattle, WA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $11,839 (undergraduate), $15,207 (graduate)
Emory University Atlanta, GA 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral $38,800
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral, Postgraduate certificate $15,844
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,431 (undergraduate) $11,220 (graduate)
Boston University Boston, MA 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral $47,422

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Students interested in epidemiology programs may want to consider the following when choosing a program:

  • Students should look for schools that are accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health.
  • When choosing between public health programs, students should seek programs that include extensive coursework in epidemiology.
  • Students might select a school with a campus-based chapter of the American Public Health Association, which provides scholarships and networking opportunities and invites guest speakers to campus.
  • Prospective students might look into professors' research specialties, as faculty members can provide research opportunities in subjects of interest to students. Common areas of epidemiology include environmental pollution, prenatal health, genetics, and pandemics.

Bachelor's Degrees in Public Health

Undergraduate programs in public health sciences include sequences in epidemiology and biostatistics. Some programs require a practicum or internship in which students work for an approved health organization prior to graduation.

Graduate Certificates in Field Epidemiology

Professionals within the public health sector wishing to work in epidemiology might consider graduate certificate programs in epidemiology and biostatistics, field epidemiology or public health. Programs can be completed part-time or entirely online in as little as one semester.

Master's Degrees in Epidemiology

Master's degree programs in epidemiology help medical professionals develop advanced levels of clinical investigation skills through coursework and research. Research topics may include cancer, obesity and HIV/AIDS. Programs may also require an internship, capstone project or thesis. Doctors may earn an M.P.H. in Epidemiology to specialize in clinical research or practice.

Doctoral Degrees in Epidemiology

An individual who is interested in becoming a clinical researcher or university professor may consider earning a doctorate in epidemiology. Completion of a program is contingent on passing a competency exam and writing a dissertation of original research. Coursework covers advanced topics in epidemiology and public health.

Aspiring epidemiologists can find relevant preparation programs at multiple degree levels. They can choose between schools based on their academic interests within the field and their future career goals.


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