About the Applied Epidemiology Concentration
Epidemiology — the study of the distribution and determinants of disease or other influencing risk factors in a population — is the cornerstone of public health inquiry and problem-solving. Unlike clinical medicine which predominantly focuses on an individual’s health and well-being, epidemiology uses a broader lens to examine the health of populations. Through this approach, epidemiologists identify public health threats and inform targets for interventions that reduce risk and improve health.

Our program, offered on-campus and online, you’ll learn to apply epidemiologic tools and frameworks to describe patterns of disease and other public health issues affecting diverse populations. By clarifying problems, you’ll drive effective solutions.

What You'll Learn

The Master of Public Health (MPH) concentration in Applied Epidemiology, hosted by the Gillings School’s nationally top-ranked Department of Epidemiology, will prepare you to identify and respond to emerging public health threats.

During the program, students will learn how to:

  1. Understand surveillance systems and how they can be applied to a disease or condition of public health importance using evolving technologies and data linkages.
  2. Recommend and implement the appropriate study design and understand: a) What to measure to track disease, specific disease indicators and possible causal factors (i.e. to determine if X causes Y); b) How to measure it, including recommending strategies of data collection; and c) In what groups of people.
  3. Accelerate the development and implementation of evidence-based solutions to pressing health problems in your area(s) of interest.
  4. Advance a holistic understanding of current and emerging public health challenges with a unique focus on prevention, quality and effectiveness.
  5. Collaborate across disciplines and professions to improve the health of communities and populations as well as individual patients.
Examples of recent public health topics that our students have explored include the COVID-19 pandemic, HIV, cardiovascular disease, environmental exposures, the opioid epidemic, suicide rates, HPV vaccine, cancer treatment efficacy and the role of nutrition. Students often apply knowledge and skills from other fields of interest to epidemiology, including sociology, psychology, statistics, and cellular or molecular biology.

This program will empower you with the knowledge and skills to achieve the following core competencies:
    1. Evaluate critically the relevant body of the scientific literature, considering the perspectives of relevant community stakeholders.
    2. Understand surveillance systems and how they can be applied to a disease or condition of public health importance, using evolving technologies and data linkages.
    3. Recommend specific epidemiologic study designs – including appropriate study populations and strategies of data collection – to identify or monitor public health problems, investigate etiologic and preventive relations, and provide epidemiologic input for program evaluation.
    4. Create or implement data collection tools and linkages, with adequate consideration of ethical and privacy considerations, data management principles, data security, quality control and oversight.
    5. Conduct and interpret data analyses of epidemiologic data —including datasets made available by governmental and other organizations — to address research questions, taking into account data quality, measurement error and potential for bias, and including confounding.
    6. Communicate epidemiologic concepts and findings to a wide range of stakeholders, from lay to professional audiences.

Required Courses & Sample Plan of Study

In addition to the interdisciplinary, 14-credit Gillings MPH Core, you will take six concentration-specific courses on topics such as epidemiologic data analysis and data in public health. 

EPID 710: Fundamentals of Epidemiology

EPID 716: Epidemiologic Data Analysis

EPID 750: Fundamentals of Public Health Surveillance

EPID 759: Methods in Field Epidemiology

EPID 795: Data in Public Health

EPID 992: Applied Epidemiology MPH Culminating Experience

Applied Epidemiology Degree Requirements and Study Plan (PDF)

Award for Excellence in Health Equity Research

Chantel Martin, PhD

The Gillings Health Equity Faculty Research Award recognizes excellence in research by faculty in the Gillings School that advances solutions to health inequities. This award is co-sponsored by the school’s Research, Innovation and Global Solutions and Inclusive Excellence units. As an emerging national leader in research to understand how structural factors and social stressors in the United States become biologically embodied to impact health outcomes among racially and ethnically minoritized groups and produce health inequities, Martin is the ideal recipient of the award. Martin’s interdisciplinary research is innovative and cutting edge.

Career Opportunities

Our Graduates Work As...
Project manager
Project coordinator
Data analyst
Data scientist
Our Graduates Work With...
Federal, state, territorial and local health agencies
Global public health agencies
Nonprofit and health care organizations
Hospitals or health systems
The pharmaceutical industry

99% of Gillings graduates have a job or continue their education within one year of graduating.

Applied epidemiology has far-reaching implications for the field of public health. It can be used to:

  • Define and prioritize public health practice and policy;
  • Investigate and quickly respond to outbreaks, including identifying harmful pathogens or the factors contributing to disease;
  • Build capacity for effectively implementing risk assessments and surveillance;
  • Guide interventions to improve population health;
  • Inform medicine and pharmacy (e.g., track toxicities; inform precision medicine based on genetics; evaluate drug efficacy);
  • Evaluate programs and policies (e.g, HIV prevention among school girls in South Africa; bed nets to prevent malaria in infants); and
  • Identify and study the determinants of disease (e.g., biological, behavioral, social, cultural, economic and political factors that directly or indirectly influence health).

Looking for more flexibility?
Explore the online version of our Applied Epidemiology concentration by filling out the form below.

Global leadership. Local impact.
Ready to apply?

Academic Coordinator
William Gillison
Rosenau Hall 202B

Concentration Leader
Primary Contact: Karin Yeatts, PhD