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.

Program Type

Doctoral

Program Format

On Campus
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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 curriculum consists of 75 credits to degree completion beyond the bachelor’s degree – 66 credits of didactic coursework and 9 credits toward dissertation writing and research.

Students will take 24 credits of coursework to introduce them to the principles of epidemiology, biostatistics, public health policy and community engagement.

They will take 6 credits of ‘s’elective coursework in subject matter areas, 6 credits of coursework in more advanced analytic methods, and 3 credits of an elective in an area that aligns with their research interests.

They will also take 9 credits of advanced coursework in both theoretical and applied epidemiology, in addition to 6 credits in more advanced policy analysis and translation of epidemiologic findings to policy-interventions.

Additionally, students will take 12 credits of PhD-level coursework in research ethics, community-engagement, and a seminar in current issues in epidemiology.

Students may apply previous graduate course work towards didactic credits, contingent on assessment of course equivalencies, in accordance with UW-Milwaukee policies.

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 (9 credits)

Epidemiology Subject Matter “S”electives (six credits)

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

PhD Core 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.

Epidemiology Program Competencies

  1. 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.
  2. Critically evaluate epidemiologic theories of disease distribution and epidemiologic frameworks of causation.
  3. Apply theories across multiple disciplines to frame and interpret epidemiologic research with attention to relevant policy and practice implications.
  4. Critically appraise the scientific literature to identify strengths and limitations of existing methodological approaches in the field of epidemiology.
  5. Design and conduct independent, interdisciplinary epidemiologic research using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative methods and demonstrating knowledge of theory, study design, sources of bias, and other limitations to causal inference.
  6. Explain the principles and methods of conducting community-engaged epidemiologic research to promote population health and health equity.
  7. Develop self-reflexive and other skills for justice-oriented, ethical epidemiologic research and practice.
  8. Communicate, orally and in writing, epidemiologic concepts, methods, and research findings.
  9. 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
  • Associate Visiting Professor, Epidemiology
Lorraine Halinka Malcoe
  • Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director
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.