This program provides students with an advanced level of academic preparation to conduct research, teach, and mentor students. This includes concentrated training in epidemiological concepts and methodology and the completion of a research-based dissertation. Due to the wide range of ongoing faculty research within the department, students have the ability to select an area of emphasis on which to focus and to conduct research under the mentorship of an epidemiology faculty member. 

Please note that the Epidemiology PhD program can be adapted to have an applied focus. Through elective coursework, internship opportunities, and the dissertation, PhD candidates can obtain the essential skills required for public health practice.


  • 72 credits, about half coursework and half research
  • Coursework in epidemiology, statistics, and statistical packages
  • Coursework in public health foundations and research ethics
  • Advanced coursework in clinical trials and grant writing
  • Teaching assistant experience
  • Advanced dissertation research and coursework in an area of specialization

Recent Dissertation Titles

Browse titles in D-Scholarship, the institutional repository for research output at the University of Pittsburgh.


Graduates will be able to...

  • Identify major health issues in the population, and describe these issues in terms of magnitude, person, place, time, and their associated risk factors
  • Identify and locate key sources of data for epidemiologic purposes
  • Calculate and interpret basic and advanced  epidemiology measures
  • Describe epidemiologic and biologic models of disease etiology and control
  • Identify the principles and limitations of public health screening programs
  • Identify, evaluate, and synthesize key studies in the scientific literature for a given topic area
  • Develop a research proposal to submit for funding
  • Apply ethical principles pertaining to the collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of epidemiologic data for research
  • Conduct data collection and create data files appropriate for data analysis
  • Apply quantitative and critical thinking skills to analyze data from epidemiologic studies
  • Interpret epidemiologic results in a causal framework
  • Communicate epidemiologic information to professional audiences
  • Teach epidemiologic concepts to students and peers
  • Demonstrate mastery of a substantive area, including knowledge and application of that knowledge in conducting original research related to the topic

Full program information

Student Handbook
Graduation Check Lists

Doctoral Program Contacts

Tina Costacou, PhD
Associate Professor and Director of the Doctoral Degree Programs
130 North Bellefield Avenue, Suite 337

Lori Smith
Student Services Manager and Program Administrator
5117 Public Health


PhD/MD Joint Degree

Through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) students undertake a physician-scientist training program tailored to their specific research interests, spending an initial two years in University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, followed by three years of research at  Pitt Public Health, and a final two years of medical training. Find out more...

Student & Alumni News


COVID-19 & Health Disparities 

COVID-19 & Health Disparities

As part of the Conversations about COVID-19 seminar series, EPI doctoral candidate Chantele Mitchell Miland , and Pitt's director of health sciences diversity, equity, and inclusion, Mario Browne (BCHS '05), discuss COVID-19 and health disparities. (10/23/2020)

Masks and Much More: Public Health in the Time of COVID-19 

Masks and Much More: Public Health in the Time of COVID-19

PITTSBURGH CURRENT—"Green is associated with 'go,' 'all clear,' 'nothing to worry about'—but during this pandemic, green could not be further from the truth." Doctoral candidate Chantele Mitchell-Miland (EPI '20) and advisor EPI's Dara Mendez explain why we all still need to be vigilant and practic... (07/01/2020)

Samargandy and El Khoudary find that running can help aging women at increased risk of heart disease 

Samargandy and El Khoudary find that running can help aging women at increased risk of heart disease

RUNNER’S WORLD – New research adds to growing evidence that the menopause transition is a critical stage for the acceleration of cardiovascular disease risk, according to lead author and epidemiology doctoral student Saad Samargandy. Senior author and associate epidemiology professor Samar El Khoud... (02/12/2020)

Zhang wins Arlene Caggiula Student Award in Nutrition 

Zhang wins Arlene Caggiula Student Award in Nutrition

Xiao Zhang (EPI '23) won this award for outstanding epidemiology students conducting nutrient-related research. Zhang was honored for her contribution to exploring the effect of high-dose marine omega-3 fatty acids on atherosclerosis. This work was published in the journal Nutrients in November 201... (12/02/2019)

Barbour: 2019 Early Career Excellence Award 

Barbour: 2019 Early Career Excellence Award

Kamil Barbour (BIOST ’11, EPI ’10) is an epidemiologist with the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion for the CDC, currently serving as team lead of the State Chronic Disease Epidemiology Assignee Program. In this hand-selected role, he supervises four senior-level ... (04/22/2019)
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