UWM student Taajwar Evans in downtown Milwaukee.

The epidemiology master’s program at UWM is unique among national schools of public health in its emphasis on the application of epidemiologic theory and methods for promoting social justice and health equity.

The integrated multidisciplinary curriculum bridges theory, research and practice to prepare students to engage in rigorous, collaborative, evidence-informed and reflexive public health practice. Through both didactic and experiential learning, students acquire foundations of applied epidemiological methods, epidemiologic data analysis, theories of social inequality, social epidemiology and community partnership building.

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Study reveals why Hispanics had higher burden of death early in pandemic

Early in the pandemic, statistics showed little evidence of a disproportionate number of deaths from COVID-19 among Hispanics compared to whites. That’s because the overall death rates were highest among people over age 69, a segment in which whites predominated.

But by Sept. 30, 2020, Hispanics made up 21% of all recorded COVID-19 deaths in the country, while making up 19% of the population.

Phoenix Do in UWM’s Zilber School of Public Health and Reanne Frank at Ohio State University wondered why, and took a closer look at COVID-19 cases and deaths by age groups, something no one else had done.

They found that working-age Hispanics suffered far greater infection and death rates than whites in the same age group.

Phoenix Do
The Hispanic community and other groups overrepresented among frontline workers suffered disproportionately during the pandemic, says Phoenix Do. “It was because they were doing their jobs.” (UWM Photo/Troye Fox)

The Benefits of an MPH Epidemiology Degree

Graduates of UWM’s epidemiology master’s program are able to:

  • Collect, analyze and interpret epidemiological information.
  • Generate theory-driven hypotheses and research question.
  • Work in true collaboration with diverse community partners.
  • Create social change to improve the public’s health and reduce health inequities.

UWM students enrolled in the epidemiology track of the MPH program have opportunities to work with a wide array of organizations, such as the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Diverse & Resilient, and local health departments.

MPH Epidemiology (49 credits)

All students enrolled in the MPH program take a common set of core classes designed to give basic skills and knowledge of public health concepts. The core curriculum consists of at least 24-25 credit hours, including four credits for the Field Experience (3 credits) and Leadership in Public Health (1 credit) courses and a two-credit capstone seminar. In addition to the common core, students complete the required coursework in one of six specialization tracks (total program credits in parentheses): Biostatistics (46 credits), Community and Behavioral Health Promotion (48-49 credits), Environmental Health Sciences (45 credits), Epidemiology (49 credits), Public Health Policy (48 credits) or Nutrition and Dietetics (64 credits). Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better in order to progress through the program.

MPH Required Common Core Courses (at least 24-25 credits)

PH 702: Introduction to Biostatistics3
PH 703: Environmental Health Sciences3
PH 704: Principles and Methods of Epidemiology3
PH 705: Principles of Public Health Policy and Administration3
PH 706: Perspectives on Community and Behavioral Health3
PH 708: Health Systems and Population Health 3
PH 733: Overview of Qualitative Methods for Public Health1
PH 790: Field Experience in Public Health3
PH 791: Leadership in Public Health1
PH 800: Capstone in Public Health2

Epidemiology Concentration Required Courses (15 credits)

PH 700: Structures of Inequality and Population Health3
PH 758: Social Epidemiology3
PH 759: Intro to Regression for Understanding the SDOH3
PH 761: Epidemiology Field Methods 3
PH 763: Epidemiology for Equity3

Content Electives — Choose one (3 credits minimum)

PH 762: Environmental Epidemiology3
PH 768: Cancer Epidemiology3
PH 769: Critical Perspectives on Nutritional Epidemiology and the Food System3
PH 868: Epidemiologic Links Between Infectious and Chronic Disease3

Other classes as approved by advisor

Electives — Choose two (6 credits minimum)

PH 715: Applied Categorical Data3
PH 716: Applied Survival Analysis3
PH 717: Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis3
PH 718: Data Management and Visualization in R3
PH 727: Program Planning and Implementation in Public Health3
PH 728: Program Evaluation in Public Health 3
PH 729: Survey Research Methods in Public Health3
PH 779: Public Health Policymaking and Policy Analysis3
PH 784: Social and Economic Policy as Health Policy3
PH 804: Advanced Epidemiology3
PH 823: Applied Analysis of Binary Outcomes in Public Health Research 3
PH 904: Survey of Analytic Methods for Epidemiology3
GEOG 726: Geographic Information Science4
URBPLAN 791: Introduction to Urban Geographic Information Systems for Planning3

Other classes as approved by advisor.

Please note: All courses are subject to change. Please consult the Academic Catalog for the most up-to-date information.

MPH Epidemiology Track Competencies

  1. Identify critical social science, social epidemiology, and health equity theories that shape the framing, methods and interpretation of epidemiologic research and practice.
  2. Identify and describe socio-structural, environmental, behavioral and biological determinants of health and heath equity.
  3. Systematically gather, critically evaluate and synthesize epidemiological literature and other relevant information to advance population health and health equity.
  4. Apply appropriate field and surveillance methods to investigate disease outbreaks and assess patterns of exposures and health outcomes in the population.
  5. Develop self-reflexive and other practical skills for ethical engagement with study participants, communities, and colleagues, in the performance of research and practice activities.
  6. Select epidemiologic methods and conduct statistical analyses to describe patterns of health and determinants of health, assess associations between exposures and health outcomes while minimizing threats to causal inference.
  7. Critically evaluate epidemiologic literature with attention to strengths and limitations of the study design, methods, analytic approach, and policy and practice implications.

Graduates with epidemiology master’s degrees often work in hospitals, health departments and labs at the city, state and national levels, community research organizations and companies producing health-related products. 

Keith Dookeran
  • Associate Visiting Professor, Epidemiology
Lorraine Halinka Malcoe
  • Associate Professor and Public Health Undergraduate Program Director
Ellen Velie
  • Professor, Epidemiology

Epidemiology Faculty Expertise

UWM’s epidemiology master’s program integrates themes of social justice theories with rigorous epidemiologic methods, and community practice to prepare students to utilize the tools of epidemiology to study the distribution and determinants of health, and to advocate for social and health equity in their local communities and beyond. Our faculty research specializations are in the areas of social, community-based, lifecourse and environmental epidemiology. 

Our epidemiology faculty have expertise in pediatric health, environmental health, infectious disease, aging, nutrition, cancer prevention, violence against women, mental health, structural determinants of health and community-level interventions. Epidemiology faculty have collaborated with foreign governments, Indigenous nations, community organizations, community-based researchers, and health justice activists to address children’s environmental health, women’s health, and community health.

Ongoing faculty research examines:

  • Health inequities 
  • Lifecourse sociocultural and nutritional risk factors for breast cancer
  • Links between psychosocial stress, immune function and chronic disease
  • Social and environmental risk factors for immune dysfunction in aging populations
  • Mass criminalization and community health
  • The misuse of race as a genetic construct in epidemiologic research
  • Methodologies for studying gender, race and social class inequalities in health