Master of Public Health Program

MPH Majors
Public Health Epidemiology (PHEP)

The Public Health Epidemiology (PHEP) major prepares students for careers involving the study of the distribution of disease in large groups or from a population based perspective. The study of epidemiology includes factors affecting disease and disability in populations and is a fundamental science of public health and preventive medicine. Epidemiology research traditionally has focused on causes of disease through population study for both infectious and chronic diseases. Epidemiologists attempt to quantify the distribution and establish the determinants of health problems by describing and analyzing the biological, environmental, social and behavior factors affecting health, illness and premature death.                                    

Descriptive and analytic techniques are used to gather information on disease occurrence; extend basic knowledge about the physical, mental and social processes affecting health; and develop effective disease control measures. The products of such inquiries also are used to formulate health policies.               

Quantitative skills, including biostatistics and computer applications, are emphasized in this major. Epidemiologists work closely with other health professionals including professionals including physicians, environmental health personnel, behavior scientists, demographers, biostatisticians and administrators of health agencies. Epidemiologists often work for local, state and federal governments, health care organizations, private industry and institutions of higher education.               

Graduates of the Public Health Epidemiology major program will possess the following major competencies:

  • Define and calculate measures of disease frequency and measures of association between risk factors and disease.                  
  • Describe the major epidemiologic research study designs and their advantages and limitations.
  • Describe the major sources of bias in epidemiologic research (confounding, selection bias, measurement error) and the ways to evaluate and reduce bias.                  
  • Apply criteria to support whether or not an association is casual.    
  • Describe terminology and methods used in epidemiologic investigation.              
  • Review the scientific literature with competence, synthesize findings across studies and utilize evidence-based practice to make appropriate public health recommendations.
  • Design and epidemiologic study to address a question of interest.
  • Identify and apply molecular/genetic principles and technologies in public health practice.
  • Write a clear description of the rationale, methods, results and interpretation of an epidemiologic investigation.
  • Identify, analyze and interpret data arising from local, national and international research and surveillance databases.                

The Plan of Study outlines required courses and electives for the PHEP. A Plan of Study is filed within the first 12 semester credit hours of admission to the MPH degree.        
Click to see a Plan of Study for PHEP.

Last Updated: 7/12/18