PhD in Epidemiology


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

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 academic program. Graduates will be prepared for multiple career paths in academia, non-governmental organizations, and public service at all levels of government.

This program also meets requirements outlined by the National Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

Faculty expertise

Faculty research specializations are in the areas of social, community-based, life course and environmental 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. On-going 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; 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.

Information Sessions

Information sessions are held regularly. You can find upcoming dates and RSVP for a session here.

Request Information about our Degree Programs

For more information about the PhD in Epidemiology, please contact


The deadline to apply for the Epidemiology PhD for Fall 2017 is June 1, 2017. Applicants are encouraged to review the research interests of program faculty and contact faculty whose research is of interest. All applicants must complete the required application through the School of Public Health Application System (SOPHAS).

Required PhD Application Materials:

  1. Current resume or CV.
  2. Writing sample (i.e., publication, report, thesis chapter).
  3. Personal Statement: Statement of research interests that summarizes your research experience/training and specific interest in the Zilber School of Public Health Epidemiology PhD program, including an explanation of how the program will help you achieve your career goals.
  4. Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with your academic experience and potential for doctoral-level research in epidemiology.*   [Note: For students transferring programs within the Zilber School of Public Health, letters included with original application to UWM will be accepted but at least 2 must be from a university faculty member.]
  5. Submission of scores from the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).** [Note: For students transferring programs within the Zilber School of Public Health, GRE scores submitted with original application to UWM will be accepted.]
  6. Submission of score from the TOEFL for international applicants.***
  7. Transcripts from previous institutions. [Note: For students transferring programs within the Zilber School of Public Health, UWM graduate transcript (unofficial) will be accepted).]

* The letters of recommendation should address the candidate’s potential for achievement in a graduate program from an academic as well as personal standpoint. At least two letters must be from a university faculty member.

**Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores from the general test (verbal, quantitative, analytical writing) are required of all applicants. Submitted test scores must be from a test taken within 5 years of the date of application. While there is not a minimum GRE score requirement, strong quantitative, verbal and writing skills are critical to successfully completing the program.

Applicants may request a GRE waiver or substitution from admissions staff at the Zilber School of Public Health in the following situations 1) Possession of a terminal degree (e.g., PhD, JD, PharmD, MD); please note that terminal degrees from foreign institutions must be post-baccalaureate or 2) Completion of an alternative standardized test (e.g., MCAT, LSAT, GMAT), or 3) Previous submission of standardized test score with original application for students transferring programs within the Zilber School of Public Health

Note that a waiver must be requested and granted by admissions staff at the Zilber School of Public Health. Contact regarding GRE waivers and substitutions.

*** For international applicants whose native language is not English, the Center for International Education provides English Language Proficiency Requirements including required TOEFL or IELTS scores, and students who attended an international university must also pay an additional fee for evaluation of international transcripts.

Students must meet UWM Graduate School admission requirements.

We encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds with a clearly communicated interest in Epidemiology and in promoting health equity. Applicants should have an earned bachelor’s degree in any field with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0. At least one undergraduate mathematics or statistics course and one biological sciences course with a 3.0 (A=4.0) is preferred. A completed master’s degree in epidemiology, public health or the social sciences is also encouraged, but a master’s degree is not a prerequisite for admission. Students will be asked to identify their primary research areas of interest and faculty with potential shared interests; faculty will be matched to serve as a career mentor and advisor.

A select group of the most qualified candidates will be invited to participate in an in-person or internet-facilitated interview (Skype, etc.) that is required for consideration for admission.

Applicants may be admitted with course deficiencies at the discretion of the ZSPH Graduate Program Committee. The student is expected to rectify these course deficiencies with a grade of ‘B’ or better within three enrolled semesters. The academic program unit will monitor deficiencies. No course credits earned in making up deficiencies may be counted as program credits required for the degree. For students entering with an advanced degree, the Admissions Committee can grant credit for relevant coursework at its discretion, but at least half of the graduate credits required for the Ph.D. must be completed at UW-Milwaukee in doctoral status in accordance with Graduate School policy. Thesis, dissertation, and research credits must also be completed at UW-Milwaukee.


A minimum of 75 credits of coursework beyond the bachelor’s level is needed to earn the degree, at least 32 of which must be earned in residence at UW-Milwaukee — 66 credits of didactic coursework and 9 credits toward dissertation writing and research.

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

Fall 1 (12 credits)

PH700 Structures of Inequality & Pop. Health (3)

PH702 Introduction to Biostatistics (3)

PH704 Principles & Methods of Epidemiology (3)

PH801 Seminar in Public Health Research (3)


Spring 1 (12 credits)

PH705 Principles of Public Health Policy &Admin (3)

PH759 Applied Quantitative Methods for Studying

Population Health & Health Disparities (3)

PH761 Epidemiology Field Methods (3)

PH864 Research Ethics in Epi. & Public Health (3)

Fall 2 (12 credits)

PH758 Social Epidemiology (3)

PH779 Public Health Policymaking & Analysis (3)

PH823 Applied Analysis of Binary Outcomes in

Public Health Research (3)

†Subject matter s’elective, analytic elective or other elective (3)

Spring 2 (12 credits)

PH763 Epidemiology in Action for Equity (3)

PH819 Social & Envir. Justice in Public Health -OR-

PH859 Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities in US (3)

PH804 Advanced Epidemiology (3)

†Subject matter s’elective, analytic elective or other elective (3)

Fall 3 (9 credits)

PH870 Epi. in Health Policy & Advocacy (3)

PH904 Survey of Analytic Methods for Epid. (3) †Subject matter s’elective, analytic elective or other elective (3)

Spring 3 (9 credits)

PH960 Current Issues in Epidemiology (3)

†Subject matter s’elective, analytic elective and other elective (6)

Fall 4 (3 credits)

PH990 Research & Dissertation (3 repeatable)

Spring 4 (3 credits)

PH990 Research and Dissertation (3 repeatable)

Fall 5 (3 credits)

PH990 Research and Dissertation (3 repeatable)

Spring 5 (as needed; required program credits attained after 4.5 years)

PH990 Research and Dissertation (as needed)

†Required Epidemiology Subject Matter “S”elective (Choose two courses, 6 cr.)

PH 768 Cancer Epidemiology (3)

PH 769 Critical Perspectives in Nutritional Epi. and Food Systems (3)

PH 762 Environmental Epidemiology (3)

PH 868 Epidemiologic Links Between Infectious and Chronic Disease (3)

PH 865 Critical Methodologies for Health Equity Research, 3 cr.

Analytic Methods Electives (Choose 2 courses, 6 cr.; other classes as approved)

PH712 Probability and Statistical Inference (3)

PH714 Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology (3)

PH715 Applied Categorical Data Analysis (3)

PH716 Applied Survival Analysis (3)

PH717 Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis (3)

PH718 Data Management and Visualization in R (3)

PH776 Qualitative Approaches in Public Health Policy and Administration (3)

SOC982 Advanced Quantitative Analysis (3)

EDPSY823 Structural Equation Modelling (3)

EDPSY832 Theory of Hierarchical Linear Modelling (3)

PH729 Survey Research Methods in Public Health (3) -OR- SOC752 Fundamentals of Survey Methodology (3)

GEOG525 Geographic Information Science (4)

Other Electives (Choose 1 course, 3 cr.; other classes as approved)

PH 727 Program Planning and Implementation in Public Health (3)

PH 728 Program Evaluation in Public Health (3)

PH 774 Violence and Health: Interdisciplinary Theories and Interventions (3)

PH 784 Social and Economic Policy as Health Policy (3)

PH 808 Writing a Federal Grant in the Public Health Sciences (3)

PH 820 Maternal and Child Health Foundations, Policy and Practice (3)

PH 826 Principles of Community Intervention Research (3)

PH 831 Community Engaged and Participatory Research and Practice (3)

Current Faculty

Keith Dookeran, MBA, MD, MBBS, Ph.D, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL

Lorraine Halinka Malcoe, M.P.H., Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley

Helen C.S. Meier, Ph.D., M.P.H., University of Michigan

Amanda M. Simanek, Ph.D., M.P.H, University of Michigan

Ellen Velie, M.P.H., Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley

View the profiles of other Zilber School of Public Health faculty, affiliated faculty and adjunct faculty.