PhD requirements

On average, the doctoral program requires three to five years for completion following the Master’s or other advanced degree. The program is research-oriented, and centers around a major research project. The PhD dissertation should involve innovative research and demonstrate a sophisticated command of epidemiologic skills.

Requirements are specified by the Department within parameters prescribed by the Graduate School. The Graduate School requires four semesters of residence credit; at least two of the four required semesters must be earned in continuous registration of no fewer than six credit hours. Residence credit earned on work for a master’s degree at UNC-CH is applicable as residence credit for a doctoral degree. At least six semester hours of credit must be earned for dissertation (EPID 994).

Students who do not hold a prior master’s degree will be required to complete the MSPH (Master of Science of Public Health) as part of the requirements toward the PhD. (The MSPH requirements are comparable to the MPH requirements.) This may add one to two years to the program.


  • EPID 705:
Introduction to Logic and Probability Logic in Epidemiology
  • EPID 710:
Fundamentals of Epidemiology (approved alternative for clinicians is EPID 711)
  • BIOS 600:
Principles of Statistical Inference (approved alternatives: BIOS 550, or PUBH 741 for those enrolled in the Translational Research Curriculum)
  • BIOS 545:
Principles of Experimental Analysis (approved alternatives: BIOS 663, or PUBH 742 for those enrolled in the Translational Research Curriculum)
  • EPID 715:
Theory and Quantitative Methods in Epidemiology
  • EPID 716:
Epidemiologic Data Analysis
  • EPID 718:
Epidemiologic Analysis of Binary Data
  • EPID 722:
Epidemiologic Analysis of Time-to-Event Data
  • EPID 725:
Research Planning Workshop
  • EPID 726:
Epidemiologic Research Methods
  • EPID 994:
Dissertation (Minimum of 6 credit hours)
  • SPHG 600:

Introduction to Public Health (required for all students who do not hold a prior MPH or MSPH degree)


  • Other coursework as determined with advisor and intradepartmental review committee
  • Recommended: At least one course in biostatistics beyond BIOS 545
  • Competence in statistical computing and data management
  • Competence in scientific writing
  • Intradepartmental Review: A planning session held at a suitable time when the dissertation topic has been selected
  • Two research practicum experiences in the practical conduct of studies, as determined with advisor (may not be waived)
  • Preliminary Doctoral Examinations:
  • Written Examination — Doctoral Qualifying Examination;
  • Oral Examination — On the dissertation proposal. Includes approval to proceed with the dissertation research
  • Submission of a doctoral research manuscript for external peer review, as determined with an advisor
  • Doctoral Dissertation
  • Final Defense of Dissertation


A minor is not a requirement of the doctoral program, but is sometimes considered desirable. If a minor is selected, fifteen credit hours are devoted to the minor program. Courses for the minor are approved in advance by both the major and minor departments. The minor department defines the role, if any, of the minor advisor on the doctoral committee and his/her participation in the preliminary doctoral examinations. Detailed information is provided in the Graduate School Handbook.