A. Intent of Program
The PhD program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics is intended to prepare professionals for a career in conducting population-based research and clinical trials. This is a unique program which strongly emphasizes the acquisition of applied skills in the complementary fields of epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as the theoretical foundations of these disciplines. Graduates of this program will be prepared to address the practical challenges of conducting population-based and clinical, translational research in the multidisciplinary work environments of academia, government, and industry. Unlike traditional doctoral preparation in either discipline alone, this program will leverage the unique collaborative environment between the departments of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the College of Public Health. The essentially strong cross-training and mentoring nature of the program is intended to develop independent researchers who will be skilled in designing and conducting studies as well as analyzing, and interpreting the results from increasing variety of designs and databases in the public health and medical research domains.
This is intended to be an integrative doctoral program which prepares future researchers who will have substantial methodological and quantitative preparation in the unique domains of these two disciplines. This program is intended to provide advanced, research-oriented training in both theory and methodology. Scholars will be required to undertake a doctoral dissertation, following the completion of required course work and examinations, which will be of the caliber for publication as independent research in respected biostatistical, epidemiological, or statistics journals.
B. Need for Program
There is an increasing need for research-oriented health professionals who will be qualified to conduct population-based research and clinical trials in the next several decades. The production of doctoral-prepared biostatisticians has remained steady while the demand has increased markedly with increasing opportunities in the biomedical research enterprise. At present, there is both a shortage of biostatisticians with some training in biology and disease process knowledge, as well as epidemiologists with an understanding of the new developments in the biostatistics, data management, and clinical trials research. There has been an intense demand for scientifically trained (subject matter) data analysts who can address the issues in conducting studies which include large amounts of complex data. The neurosciences, surveillance, and computational biology are expected to be growth areas which will demand the complex, integrated skill set of a new group of professionals.
C. Target Audience
The target audience for this program will include students with an appropriate prior bachelor’s or master’s degree (in biostatistics, epidemiology, statistics, health services research, mathematical sciences, or a related field) with a prior mathematical training to include two semesters of calculus (univariate differential and integral which can be fulfilled by MA 113 and MA 114) and statistical methods (STA 580). Practicing health care professionals (MDs, DMDs, PharmDs, etc) who are interested in pursuing independent, doctoral level, research careers will be targeted for the program. Master’s graduates from psychology, computer science, engineering, business, biology, or chemistry may also find this degree program attractive.
The program will prepare students for research oriented careers in population based studies and clinical research studies including clinical trials. There is a severe shortage of doctoral level graduates with training in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. This program is unique in that students must acquire proficiency in both areas. A terminal master’s degree (MS) in Epidemiology is attainable for those who cannot complete the PhD. At the present time, there is no direct admission to the MS in Epidemiology.
The MPH degree is designed to meet the needs of recent baccalaureate graduates planning careers in public health and related professions and current public health and clinical practitioners seeking to increase their knowledge of population-based health issues. Because of the breadth of the public health profession, an applicant with a bachelor’s degree in any major field will be considered for admission to the program. However, an educational background that includes a conceptual knowledge of anatomy and physiology will offer the student more flexibility in the selection of an area of concentration.