Program Category: PhD Programs

Chair: Charles Branas

Website: mailman.columbia.edu/become-student/degrees/doctoral-programs/phd/epidemiology

Degree Programs: Full-Time: MPhil, PhD

Please note: The degree for this program is conferred by GSAS, but program specifics, such as admissions, degree requirements, and financial aid, are administered by other schools of the university.

The purpose of the PhD program in Epidemiology is to develop scholarly expertise in the field of health, including both physical and mental disorders. Epidemiology is the study of the distributions and determinants of states of health and disease in human populations. These studies are the foundation for prevention and control of health disorders. Methods include the measurement of manifestations of disease and of the physical, social, and behavioral phenomena of the environment; the design of studies; procedures for collecting, handling, and interpreting large bodies of data; and statistical analyses. Those enrolled in the program have the opportunity to address major health problems of our society from a research perspective.

The scope of the program is interdisciplinary. The study of epidemiology requires an understanding of human biology and pathology of people in their social context, and of the ways of enumerating and analyzing populations. Thus, closely affiliated fields include the biomedical and social science disciplines and biostatistics. The well-trained epidemiologist should have some familiarity with all three fields and considerable depth in at least one of the three. This program permits specialization according to the student's background and interests, in addition to general studies in epidemiology and public health.

Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of graduate students. Thus, graduate fellowships include some teaching and research apprenticeship.

Special Admissions Requirements: 

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one official transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a writing sample as described below, and three letters of evaluation from academic and/or work sources.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

For more information, refer to the Admissions and Frequently Asked Questions pages.

Resume Requirement: Yes
Writing Sample: Yes
GRE General: Yes
GRE Subject: No



All applicants must have, or be in the process of completing, a master's degree in epidemiology or a related field. Individuals who have completed a doctoral degree in a program that does not confer a master's degree (e.g., MD) are also eligible. Course work in mathematics (e.g., calculus) and statistics as well as a strong background in the natural and/or social sciences are strongly recommended. Skills in oral and written communication are very important. The writing sample should be a paper of which the applicant is the first author, focused on a health-related topic and be no more than 2,000 words in length. We also look for applicants who are committed to public health research and practice as well as epidemiology. Thus, past research and/or other work experience in public health are encouraged. We value diversity in our matriculating students in terms of gender, race and ethnic background, and areas of interest or expertise.