ScM Program

Degree Requirements


Candidates for the Master of Science degree follow an integrated program of study comprising a minimum of 12 credits and a master's thesis. Of these 12 credits, students must complete at least 8 credits of didactic coursework. The remaining 4 credits may be fulfilled through a combination of didactic coursework, independent studies, and/or reading courses. Of the 8 classroom courses required, at least 4 will be epidemiology courses with substantial methodological focus and at least 2 others will be in biostatistics.

Master's students are also required to: a) take a noncredit introductory course on SAS data management, b) participate in the journal club series, c) take the noncredit Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) course, and d) complete Public Health 101.

Students may request that up to four related graduate/medical courses taken previously be counted toward the twelve course requirement.

Students pursuing an ScM in Epidemiology are required to take the following courses:
PHP 2150 – Foundations in Epidemiologic Research Methods
PHP 2200 – Intermediate Methods in Epidemiologic Research
PHP 2260 - Applied Epidemiology Analysis Using SAS 

AND at least two of the following:
PHP 2030 - Clinical Trials Methodology
PHP 2040 - Applied Research Methods
PHP 2180 - Interpretation and Application of Epidemiology
PHP 2250 - Advanced Quantitative Methods in Epidemiological Research
PHP 2601 - Linear and Generalized Linear Models
PHP 2602 - Analysis of Lifetime Data
PHP 2603 - Analysis of Longitudinal Data 
PHP 2610 - Causal Inference and Missing Data 

Required Biostatistics Courses:
PHP 2510 – Principles of Biostatistics and Data Analysis
PHP 2511 – Introduction to Applied Regression Analysis

The remaining courses can be selected from among various offerings in Public Health, Sociology, Environmental Studies or related disciplines with approval from the student's advisor. Electives must be chosen so the student will develop substantive expertise in epidemiologic methods as applied to a specific substantive area, such as cardiovascular, cancer, infectious disease, environmental epidemiology, pharmacoepidemiology, or health services research. Reading courses completed under the direction of an Epidemiology faculty member may also be counted as electives with prior approval of the study plan from the student's advisor. 

In addition, master's students are required to take the following non-credit courses during the first semester:

Graduate Student Course on SAS Data Management
This workshop (SAS Programming 1: Essentials) is designed as a basic introduction to SAS and must be completed by the end of the first term by all students unless a waiver is obtained. Courses in the second term will assume this course has been completed and that the students understand the material in the first four modules. The emphasis is on data management skills, programming best practices and resources for continued learning. The topics for this course are: module 1 learn structure of SAS and how to read data into SAS; module 2 learn basic data management commands such as creating new variables, how to open existing SAS data sets, and how to combine data; module 3 learn how to use basic SAS functions, how to generate descriptive statistics for data checking and how to handle dates in SAS; module 4 learn how to import data from other sources and to apply sample design information to procedure statement syntax. At the end of each module there is a problem set for students to complete and check on their own. In keeping with the goal of the workshop to develop skills there is no time limit and there is no limit on the number of times a student can retry a problem. All problems are self-graded.

Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) Course
All first-year master's Epidemiology students are required to successfully complete “Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) Training.” This five-week introduction to the scope and complexity of ethical situations that confront modern public health practitioners is led by the School's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Training covers multiple topics including: the context and history of ethical research practices within public health; research misconduct; the peer review process and its purpose; publication practices and responsible authorship; practical and ethical issues in human-subjects research; data acquisition, storage, and privacy; use of electronic resources; recognizing and navigating conflicts of interest; the mentoring relationship and associated responsibilities of mentors and trainees; and societal impact of public health research. Discussion of the ethics of diversity is incorporated to convey an appreciation for the fact that differences of race, culture, age, gender, disability, and religion can affect the conduct and interpretation of research. The training includes presentations, short illustrative films specific to public health research issues, and small group discussion of hypothetical and real scenarios drawn from current literature and the news media. Supplemental materials and homework assignments are provided through the Collaborative Institutional Review Board Training Initiative (CITI) program online system. School of Public Health faculty and University staff from the Office of Vice President for Research and Research Administration participate as presenters and discussants along with students. Successful completion of this course includes attendance at all meetings and passing the written final examination. 


All Epidemiology master's students must complete a thesis involving original data analysis. The thesis may involve original data collection, analysis of secondary data, or meta-analyses. The thesis will be a publication-quality manuscript suitable for submission to a recognized, peer-reviewed journal. Prior to commencing thesis work, a thesis proposal must be approved by a faculty advisor in the Epidemiology Department and the ScM Program Director.

The master's thesis in Epidemiology may consist of one of the following:

  • Development of a theoretical or methodological advance in epidemiology, or
  • A critical and systematic review of a substantive issue in epidemiology, or
  • Primary data collection and analysis or analysis of existing data bases that provides new substantive findings

Master's Thesis Timeline
Students are encouraged to become familiar with potential thesis topics and to develop their own interests before investing major effort into the thesis work.  Students should begin to narrow their thesis topic by reading the literature and meeting with potential thesis advisors during the first semester.  The thesis plan must be finalized by May 15 of the second semester, with plans to begin research by the beginning of the third semester.

Oral presentation
As part of the thesis process, the Department requires all students to orally present the completed project. This is a capstone experience – not a formal defense – and is to be scheduled after the written version of the thesis has gained at least tentative approval by the faculty advisor and reader(s) but well before the deadline for submitting the thesis to the Graduate School.

For more information on the ScM Program thesis requirement, please see the Graduate School website. 

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

The IDP is a valuable tool that gives students the opportunity to address their short term and long term career goals. The NIH has mandated that IDP's be a regular part of training and that institutions encourage trainees to comply with this mandate. In addition, the School of Public Health is requiring all students, regardless of funding, to fill out an IDP.

The Department of Epidemiology requests that students complete an IDP each calendar year. The deadline for submission of the Individual Development Plan Google Form is December 15th. Before submitting your IDP, please review responses with your academic advisor. In addition to NIH reporting requirements, the Department views the IDP as an important opportunity to review progress with your advisor, set academic and research goals for the coming year, and update your academic CV. 

Epidemiology Graduate Handbook