As the practice of public health changes, so do the educational needs of public health practitioners, particularly in the area of field epidemiology. In recent years, in the U.S. and across the world, we have faced a variety of new man-made and natural threats, including new strains of existing diseases and the re-emergence of threats that were thought to be eradicated. At the same time that these threats have increased we continue to face a shortage of adequately trained epidemiologists in state and territorial health departments. The need to prepare the public health workforce to deal with these threats is crucial and requires innovative approaches to education and training that encompass the latest surveillance techniques and take full advantage of current technology.

To address this need and fill the gap in educational programs available to practitioners, the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health has developed the Online Certificate in Field Epidemiology program, which is specifically designed for working practitioners and emphasizes practical, applied skills. All courses have been specially designed and developed for delivery online. Students will be able to register, receive materials, interact with faculty and complete this program without traveling to campus. A connection to the internet is required.


The curriculum for the Online Certificate in Field Epidemiology includes four courses totaling 12 graduate credit hours. Students enroll in one course per term:

Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health (EPID 600) This is an introductory epidemiology course that considers the meaning, scope, and applications of epidemiology to public health practice and the uses of vital statistics data in the scientific appraisal of community health.

Fundamentals of Public Health Surveillance (EPID 750) This course provides the conceptual foundations and practical skills for designing and implementing surveillance systems and for using surveillance data for the conduct and evaluation of public health programs and research.

Methods in Field Epidemiology (EPID 759) This course focuses on the epidemiological methods required to investigate urgent public health problems.  The skills and tools needed to conduct outbreak investigations and communicate findings to the public are covered in this course.

Principles and Methods of Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology (EPID 758) This course encompasses the interaction between an infectious agent, host, and environment, modes and dynamics of transmission, the role of immunity in infectious disease epidemiology, and disease elimination strategies.

Course Schedule

All courses for the certificate can be completed online in one year (four semesters)

Term Courses
Summer EPID 600: Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health
Fall EPID 750: Fundamentals of Public Health Surveillance
Spring EPID 759: Methods in Field Epidemiology
Summer EPID 758: Principles and Methods of Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology


All applicants to the Online Certificate in Field Epidemiology should meet all of the following criteria:

  • Bachelor’s degree (or international equivalent) required;
  • Math competency – some of the Epidemiology courses cover quantitative subject matter and require a minimum level of math competency that should be obtained either through extensive experience or by having taken recent courses. Transcripts should include evidence of grades of B or better in math courses, covering both college algebra and calculus at a minimum. Also, if you haven’t had math courses within the past five years, then we recommend that you take a refresher course before starting the Field Epidemiology Certificate program. A very good review option is the free review material that is offered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to prepare for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Download the GRE Mathematics Test Practice Book (PDF). Alternatively, you may demonstrate your math proficiency by taking the GRE, which would be especially recommended if you intend to apply for an MPH degree after completing the certificate. Please contact us before applying if you have any questions about these math requirements;
  • Excellent English writing skills (must be able to make and support an argument)


Applications for the Field Epidemiology certificate for the Summer 2024 start term open from August 16, 2023, to April 9, 2024.

Please note there are limited spaces available in the program. Thus, applying early will provide a better opportunity for admission.

All applicants should include the following information in their application:

  • Resume or CV including relevant education and/or experience in a health or social science related field-includes volunteer experience (minimum of 3 years preferred);
  • Statement of Purpose required;
  • Transcripts (official or unofficial) are required for your highest degree earned and relevant completed coursework. Please indicate the degree and date received. Also include transcripts that demonstrate any relevant coursework for quantitative competencies

To begin the application process, please click here. If you have problems with the online form, please contact us at phlp@unc.edu.


For more information regarding tuition rates, please consult the UNC Finance Office‘s tuition rates (see Off-campus Programs tuition rates). Please note that the certificate programs do not qualify for financial aid at UNC-CH.

Contact Us

For additional information about the Online Certificate in Field Epidemiology program, please go to the Certificate FAQ page or contact phlp@unc.edu.

Contact Public Health Leadership

135 Dauer Drive
4104 McGavran-Greenberg Hall, CB #7469
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7469
(919) 966-5285