Department of

Public Health Seminars:


The 2018-2019 Seminar Series has ended. Thank you to all presenters and attendees!

Please check back for the 2019-2020 Series information.


PhD in Epidemiology

PhD in Epidemiology fall 2019 application deadline extended to May 5th—positions with full tuition and annual stipend for four years available!

PhD student photo

Program Mission

The mission of the Ph.D. Program in Epidemiology is to educate and train students to become independent, competent and self-directed research scientists so they can conduct outstanding clinical and population-based research. Students will learn methods for studying disease etiology and prevention in populations and evaluating interventions, diagnostic tests and treatment efficacy; they will implement such methods in an independent research study under the mentorship of an experienced epidemiology researcher.

Program Objectives:

VCU seeks to:

Specialty Training Areas

VCU Program faculty conduct research in the following areas: 

For additional details, visit our research web page and our faculty web page, where additional information on individual research programs is posted. 

Why VCU?

Selecting the right doctoral program for your educational needs and career objectives is critical. VCU wants to ensure an optimal fit for students. Our small program offers one-on-one attention from faculty mentors. Competitive applicants are matched with a faculty mentor whose research program complements the student’s area of interest, so shared research interests are a key factor in the admissions process. Students work alongside their mentoring team throughout the Epidemiology Program, focusing on research and rotating through at least one teaching assistantship for exposure to the instructional experience in an academic setting. The doctoral program provides full student funding including tuition and fees contingent on academic good progress, including tuition and fees, and an annual stipend.

Consider the following highlights of VCU’s training program:

Expected time-to-degree completion is 4 years, contingent on academic good progress. Applications from prospective full-time students received by March 15th will receive consideration for funding.

Frameworks grounding doctoral training in epidemiology at VCU:

VCU embraces a new paradigm to understand population patterns of disease and indices of health and well-being. Using a framework that acknowledges that risk and causal factors are nested one within another with environmental factors, genetic factors, behaviors and social contexts, scientists at VCU face public health challenges of this century using a team science approach. By recognizing the complex web of causation, coupled with emerging understanding of the interaction of genetic and biological factors with social and behavioral factors, VCU offers doctoral training that includes complex conceptual models, analytic strategies, statistical methodology, and epidemiologic design. To address these challenges, VCU offers redesigned, innovative strategy of training such epidemiologists that boasts:

Typical Plan of Study (PhD)

The PhD Program enrolls only full-time students. Full-time enrollment is defined as registration for 9 or more credits per semester in the fall and spring or 3 or more credits in summer. Average time to completion is 4-5 academic years. Years 1 and 2 are focused on completion of didactic course work and culminate in  the written comprehensive exam. Year 3 focuses on preparation for the oral examination, approximately 6 months after successful completion of the written comprehensive exam. After successful completion of the oral examination, students devote the remaining semesters (typically 4, including third spring and summer semesters and fourth year) developing the dissertation and completing the dissertation examination (“defense”) in the final semester of enrollment. The dissertation is developed as three separate manuscripts suitable for publication, and at least one manuscript must have been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal before the dissertation examination takes place. Therefore, students should begin developing the three manuscripts immediately after successful completion of the oral examination and plan to submit the first manuscript for journal review by the start of the final semester in the program.

Fall semester, year 1  

EPID 649      Analysis of Health Datasets       3 
EPID 650      Epidemiologic Methods for Research       3
EPID 690      Journal Club      1
STAT 643      Applied Linear Regression      3


Spring semester, year 1  

EPID 651      Intermediate Epidemiologic Methods for Research
EPID 690      Journal Club
EPID 744
     Regression II
Elective course      (methodological, substantive, or practical)


Summer semester, year 1
Elective course       (methodological, substantive, or practical)      3


Fall semester, year 2
EPID 652       Advanced Epidemiologic Methods and Data Analysis      3
EPID 690       Journal Club      1
OVPR 602       OR other approved conduct of human research course      1
Elective course       (methodological, substantive, or practical)      5-6


Spring semester, year 2
EPID 690       Journal Club      1
Elective courses       (methodological, substantive, or practical)      9-10


Complete written comprehensive exams


Summer semester, year 2
Elective course       (methodological, substantive, or practical)      3


Fall semester, year 3
EPID 697       in preparation for oral examination      9
        Complete oral examination  


Spring semester year 3 – spring semester, year 4
  Continued registration each semester in EPID 697 to complete dissertation      9 (fall/spring)
            3 (summer)


Complete dissertation examination

Contact Us

Students interested in VCU’s approach to training the next generation of epidemiologists are strongly encouraged to speak directly with our Graduate Program Director, Juan Lu, PhD, MPH, MD, or Lisa S. Anderson, MPH, Director of Educational Programs.

PhD in Epidemiology Program Requirements

PhD in Epidemiology

Application Details

Please review the admission requirements before applying.  Applications are accepted online at Search for Virginia Commonwealth University to find our program. The code for submitting GRE scores to VCU through SOPHAS is 7543. VCU also requires a secondary application. Details appear here.