Students interested in studying infectious diseases can earn a master's degree specifically in the subject or a doctoral degree in related specializations. Degree programs at both levels equip students with research skills and provide coursework in various areas of math, biology and medicine. Compare and contrast the available master's and doctoral programs.
Master of Science vs. Doctor of Philosophy in Infectious Disease
Master of Science
Master of Science (MS) degree programs are available in infectious disease, as well as infectious disease and global health. These programs may range from about 32 to 36 credits and may be completed in 1 to 2 years, depending on the program. Some of these programs offer flexible formats, such as some online and evening courses, for working professionals and may have unique learning experiences, like a journal club. In place of a thesis, these programs may offer a research internship or opportunity to work with a faculty member on a research proposal and may include coursework in topics such as immunology, ethics, molecular medicine, biostatistics and infectious diseases. Graduates of these degree programs may work in a wide range of positions in academia, clinical research, pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology organizations, health organizations and more.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs are typically offered through sections or departments of immunology and infectious diseases, but may be specifically in areas like immunology, biological sciences in public health, virology, molecular medicine, pathology, host-pathogen interactions or cell and molecular biology. Students in these degree programs have the opportunity to participate in laboratory research, field studies, journal clubs, seminar series and/or training grants. As is common with most doctoral degree programs, students in these programs usually take qualifying exams and must complete a dissertation. Due to the various areas of concentration and range of research interests, coursework for these degree programs vary greatly, but students may take courses in topics like virology, microbiology, pathogenesis, treatment of disease, immunology, infectious disease epidemiology and physiology. Graduates of these programs may work in similar fields as those with a master's in infectious disease, but in advanced positions that may tend to be more research-based.
Common Entrance Requirements
Students applying to master's or doctoral programs in infectious disease need to have at least a bachelor's degree and some programs may require that the degree be in fields like biology or chemistry. These programs may also require prerequisite coursework in areas like chemistry, biology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology and statistics. Some programs may have a minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0 and it is fairly common for these programs to require the GRE and some programs may accept the MCAT as well. Required application materials vary for different programs, especially at the doctoral level for the range of specializations. Depending on the program, students may be asked to submit their transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation/evaluation, a personal statement and/or a resume.
Students can pursue MS or PhD degree programs in the field of infectious disease and have various research and journal club opportunities throughout their studies. Master's programs are usually shorter than PhD programs and do not require a thesis, while PhD students complete a dissertation.