Genetic Epidemiology Graduate Programs

Feb 09, 2019

Students interested in studying the genetic perspectives of health and disease may wish to pursue a master's or doctoral degree program in genetic epidemiology. Explore the degree options and what admission and graduation requirements need to be met.

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Genetic epidemiology is usually only offered as an area of study at advanced graduate levels, such as students pursuing a doctorate or for students who already have an advanced degree. These degree programs typically require a final research project and vary in length. Learn more about the degree options in genetic epidemiology here.

Master of Science vs. Doctor of Philosophy in Genetic Epidemiology

Master of Science in Genetic Epidemiology

At the master's level, students may pursue a Master of Science (MS or ScM) in Genetic Epidemiology that are typically designed for students who hold an advanced degree, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Medicine (MD), and have worked professionally for a number of years. These degree programs may range from around 30 to 68 credit hours and typically require a thesis. Students can usually complete these programs in 2 years and some courses may be available online. Students in these degree programs may take courses that discuss topics in biostatistics, epidemiology, genetic analysis, ethics and bioinformatics. Graduates of master's programs in genetic epidemiology may pursue careers in academia, industry, the government and other research organizations.

Doctor of Philosophy in Genetic Epidemiology

Students interested in studying genetic epidemiology at the doctoral level have several degree options, including a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Epidemiology or Biostatistics with a focus in genetic epidemiology or a PhD in Public Health Genetics. These degree programs may require around 90 credits and can usually be completed in 4 to 6 years. Students in these programs typically need to complete comprehensive exams and a dissertation, but some programs may allow students to choose a paper option thesis that requires students to complete 2 or 3 papers that could be published in scholarly journals in place of a dissertation. Coursework for these degree programs vary based on a student's research and interests, but students may take courses in statistical genetics, genetic epidemiology, human genetics and public health. Graduates of these programs can work in similar fields as graduates of master's degree programs, but may take on more advanced and/or research-based positions.

Common Entrance Requirements

Students applying to graduate programs in genetic epidemiology must have at least a bachelor's degree, but as mentioned, typically these programs are typically designed for students who have already been working as researchers for a number of years and/or hold a master's or advanced degree. Although specific coursework varies by institution, most of these programs expect students to have prior coursework from areas such as genetics, probability, statistics and computer programming. Students are also usually expected to take the GRE and to be competitive, some institutions may have test score thresholds students should strive to meet. Other application materials for these programs may include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and/or a resume or CV.

Students can pursue a PhD with a focus in genetic epidemiology or pursue an MS in the field after earning an advanced degree. PhD programs generally take more than 4 years and require a dissertation, while master's programs take about 2 years and require a thesis.

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