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PhD in Epidemiology

The mission of the PhD program in Epidemiology is to train students to become independent research scientists and leaders who can develop epidemiologic methods and conduct outstanding population-based research.

Program Objectives

  • Develop scientists experienced in the use of state-of-the-art research methods for the purpose of advancing fundamental knowledge of issues central to the improvement of population health
  • Cultivate public health professionals skilled in the communication of scientific knowledge
  • Train scientists to optimally contribute as part of multidisciplinary teams
  • Develop scientists equipped with leadership skills for the purpose of implementing transformative research programs, and influence equitable health

Specialty Training Areas



Why VCU?

Selecting the right doctoral program for your educational needs and career objectives is critical. Our small program offers one-on-one mentoring, and competitive applicants are matched with faculty whose research program complements the student's area of interest. 

Program Highlights

  • Goal setting and strategic mapping of educational program
  • Support for membership in professional organizations and research conferences
  • Teaching and teaching assistantship requirement for one semester
  • Formal grant submission experience
  • Leadership development and leadership opportunities
  • The doctoral program provides full funding, including tuition and fees contingent on academic good progress, including tuition and fees, and an annual stipend.
  • Dissertation format: three first author, peer-reviewed publications

Our Graduates

VCU Epidemiology graduates find positions in a variety of academic and professional settings, including:

  • Post-doctoral, fellowship and assistant professor positions at University of California-Berkeley, Columbia University Medical Center, University of South Florida, University of South Carolina, Richmond University, and more.
  • National and state governmental agencies, such as epidemiologist at National Cancer Institute, FDA Center for Tobacco Products, CDC, Texas Department of State Health Services, and more.
  • Private institutions and businesses, such as epidemiologist at GlaxoSmithKline, WellPoint Inc, and more.

Typical Plan of Study

A minimum of 43 credit hours of coursework is required and at least 18 credit hours of directed dissertation research. Full details can be found on the VCU Graduate Bulletin.

The PhD Program enrolls primarily full-time students, who receive tuition and fee coverage plus an annual stipend.  Part-time students, who receive no financial support, may occasionally be considered for admission. Full-time enrollment is defined as registration for 9 or more credits per semester in fall and spring or 3 or more credits in summer. Part-time enrollment is defined as registration for fewer than 9 credits per semester in fall and spring.

Average time to completion is 4-5 academic years for full-time students; VCU allows a maximum of 8 years for students to complete a doctoral degree.

  • For full-time students, 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; i.e., by the end of the third fall semester.
  • 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. 

Application Details

Please review the admission requirements before applying. Applications are accepted online on the SOPHAS website. 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. Supplemental application information is also available.