Public health student at a field experience

The epidemiology PhD program provides students with rigorous graduate training at a Research 1 (R1) public university located in Milwaukee’s diverse urban setting.

Coursework focuses on theory, quantitative and qualitative methods, community engagement, and the intersection of epidemiologic research and public health policy. Completion of a high-quality doctoral dissertation based on original research is a key feature of the epidemiology PhD program.

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Alumni Spotlight

“I am an Intramural Research Training Award postdoctoral fellow in the epidemiology branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, working in the Chronic Disease Epidemiology Group.

I use data from large ongoing prospective cohorts and a life course perspective to study the effects of early life trauma and neighborhood environment on chronic disease risk in adulthood, with an emphasis on breast cancer and autoimmune disease. I am particularly interested in the epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation and epigenetic aging, that contribute to the embodiment of stress over the life course.”

Jennifer Woo, PhD – epidemiology

Jennifer Woo, PhD – epidemiology

Graduates are prepared to conduct independent research to examine the distribution and determinants of health and translate epidemiologic findings into actionable interventions and policy strategies to promote population health, health equity and social justice.

UWM’s epidemiology PhD program also meets the requirements outlined by the National Council on Education for Public Health.

Epidemiology PhD

The PhD in epidemiology requires a minimum of 75 credits of coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree, including:

  • Twenty-four credits to introduce principles of epidemiology, biostatistics, public health policy and community engagement.
  • Six credits of “s”elective coursework in subject matter areas.
  • Six credits of coursework in more advanced analytic methods.
  • Three credits of an elective in an area that aligns with research interests.
  • Nine credits of advanced coursework in both theoretical and applied epidemiology.
  • Six credits in more advanced policy analysis and translation of epidemiologic findings to policy interventions.
  • Twelve credits of PhD-level coursework in research ethics, community engagement and a seminar in current issues in epidemiology.
  • Nine credits toward dissertation writing and research.

Required Courses (60 credits)

PH 700 Structures of Inequality and Population Health (3 credits)
PH 702 Introduction to Biostatistics (3 credits)
PH 704 Principles and Methods of Epidemiology (3 credits)
PH 705 Principles of Public Health Policy and Administration (3 credits)
PH 758 Social Epidemiology (3 credits)
PH 759 Intro to Regression for Understanding the SDOH (3 credits)
PH 761 Epidemiology Field Methods (3 credits)
PH 763 Epidemiology for Equity (3 credits)
PH 779 Public Health Policymaking and Policy Analysis (3 credits)
PH 801 Seminar in Public Health Research (3 credits)
PH 804 Advanced Epidemiology (3 credits)
PH 819 Social and Environmental Justice in Public Health (3 credits)
PH 823 Applied Analysis of Binary Outcomes in Public Health Research (3 credits)
PH 864 Research Ethics in Epidemiology and Public Health (3 credits)
PH 870 Epidemiology in Health Policy and Advocacy (3 credits)
PH 904 Survey of Analytic Methods for Epidemiology (3 credits)
PH 960 Core Doctoral Seminar in Epidemiology (3 credits)
PH 990 Research and Dissertation (3 credits)

Epidemiology Subject Matter “S”electives (six credits)

PH 768 Cancer Epidemiology (3 credits)
PH 769 Critical Perspectives on Nutritional Epidemiology and the Food System (3 credits)
PH 762 Environmental Epidemiology (3 credits)
PH 868 Epidemiologic Links Between Infectious and Chronic Disease (3 credits)
PH 865 Critical Methodologies for Health Equity Research (3 credits)

Analytics Methods “S”electives (six credits)

PH 712 Probability and Statistical Inference (3 credits)
PH 714 Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology (3 credits)
PH 715 Applied Categorical Data (3 credits)
PH 716 Applied Survival Analysis (3 credits)
PH 717 Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis (3 credits)
PH 718 Data Management and Visualization in R (3 credits)
PH 776 Qualitative Approaches in Public Health Policy and Administration (3 credits)
SOCIOL 982 Advanced Quantitative Analysis (3 credits)
ED PSY 823 Structural Equation Modeling (3 credits)
ED PSY 832 Theory of Hierarchical Linear Modeling (3 credits)
PH 729 Survey Research Methods in Public Health (3 credits)
GEOG 525 Geographic Information Science (3 credits)

Other “S”electives (three credits)

PH 727 Program Planning & Implementation in Public Health (3 credits)
PH 728 Program Evaluation in Public Health (3 credits)
PH 774 Violence and Health (3 credits)
PH 784 Social and Economic Policy as Health Policy (3 credits)
PH 808 Writing a Federal Grant in the Public Health Sciences (3 credits)
PH 820 Maternal and Child Health Foundations, Policy and Practice (3 credits)
PH 826 Principles of Community Intervention Research (3 credits)
PH 831 Community Engagement and Participatory Research Approaches in Public Health (3 credits)

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

PhD Epidemiology Competencies

  1. Formulate and test a hypothesis using basic statistical methods.
  2. Apply statistical inference to guide research decision-making relevant to public health problems and issues.
  3. Critically evaluate scientific literature and identify how epidemiological and population health data can be used to answer research questions and inform program development and policy decisions aimed at promoting health equity.
  4. Demonstrate critical thinking skills necessary for formulating research questions, identifying theory to frame research questions, and identify and employ appropriate methodologies for addressing a public health research question.
  5. Apply social and environmental justice framework when asking and addressing research questions impacting the public’s health.
  6. Integrate knowledge regarding biological, behavioral, cultural and sociopolitical mechanisms within historical contexts operating at multiple levels of causation to shape hypotheses regarding population health and health equity.
  7. Critically evaluate normative dominant theories of the distribution and determinants of health and implications for epidemiologic knowledge production.
  8. Apply theories across multiple disciplines to frame and interpret epidemiologic research with attention to relevant policy and practice implications.
  9. Critically appraise the scientific literature to identify strengths and limitations of existing methodological approaches in the field of epidemiology.
  10. Design and conduct independent, interdisciplinary epidemiologic research using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative methods demonstrating knowledge of theory, study design, sources of bias and other limitations to causal inference.
  11. Explain the principles and methods of conducting community-engaged epidemiologic research to promote population health and health equity.
  12. Engage ethically in interactions with study participants, community and colleagues, conduct of research, analysis of data, reporting of findings and formulation of policy recommendations.
  13. Demonstrate respect for diverse values, beliefs, and cultures and the dignity of individuals and communities in the conduct of research.
  14. Communicate epidemiologic concepts, methods and research findings to a range of audiences with attention to ethical, policy and practice implications, including how findings represent and impact study participants and their communities.
  15. Translate epidemiologic findings into policy recommendations and advocacy strategies that promote population health and health equity.

Graduates of the epidemiology PhD program will be prepared for multiple career paths in academia, nongovernmental organizations and public service at all levels of government.

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

Our 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. 

Ongoing epidemiology research examines health inequities; life course 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; and methodologies for studying gender, race and social class inequalities in health. 

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.