Tekeda F. Ferguson, PhD, MPH, MSPH
Associate Professor and Program Director
The PhD in the field of epidemiology is designed primarily for those who plan academic or other careers involving teaching and/or research. The PhD curriculum includes advanced coursework in epidemiologic theory, analytical and statistical methods, study design and data interpretation as well as research and instructional experience. In addition to a series of core courses, including a formal teaching practicum, students will have the opportunity to take elective courses in epidemiology and other disciplines relevant to their chosen area of emphasis. The curriculum culminates in the development and completion of a dissertation generating new knowledge in the field of epidemiology based on independent research.
The curriculum assumes students enter the PhD program with a master of public health (MPH) degree. Those students entering without a MPH degree can expect additional coursework to fulfill prerequisites for taking PhD-level advanced coursework.
Epidemiology Qualifying Process
The Qualifying Examinations (Written Comprehensive & Oral Prospectus) are traditionally administered during the second year of the doctoral program, although this time frame is flexible as long as the oral prospectus examination is completed within three years from the date of enrollment (full-time student]. The Written Comprehensive Exam is only offered one time during a calendar year. It is recommended that students who plan to take the Written Comprehensive Exam consult with their faculty advisor and discuss required and elective coursework and their readiness for taking the examination several months in advance of the scheduled examination date.
Students will usually sit for this exam in the second year of their PhD program in Epidemiology for full-time students. After the advisor has agreed that students have completed the required program coursework (EPID 7200, EPID 7201, EPID 7350, PUBH 6221, PUBH 6200, BIOS 6210 along with at least six credit hours of BIOS electives and six credit hours of EPID electives), students may request to take the exam. All students must notify the Exam Director of their intention to take the exam at the start of the term preceding the exam. Students who intend to take the exam will be notified with specific details pertaining to the exam.
Each exam question will be read and graded by two faculty members with appropriate expertise in the question’s content. Each question will be graded on a point scale. The Examination Committee will collectively assign a final grade and make a recommendation of pass, conditional pass, or fail. Finally, the Examination Committee will suggest any conditions or remediation for students who received a conditional pass. Whenever there are at least two students taking the exam, faculty graders will be blind with respect to the name of the students. Final grades are communicated to students by the Program.
If students do not pass the exam, they may be allowed to retake the exam at the next time the exam is offered. Determination of a remediation exam opportunity will be made by the Program Director, the students’ advisor, and with input from the faculty. If the remediation exam is offered and students do not pass on the second attempt, they will be terminated from the Program.
In addition to the Written Comprehensive Examination, doctoral students are required to satisfactorily develop and defend their research proposal in the form of a written dissertation prospectus and oral prospectus examination.
Students should successfully defend their dissertation prospectus within six months of successfully completing the Written Comprehensive Examination. During the defense of the Prospectus, students present their research prospectus to the dissertation committee and submits to questioning by the committee members. Students should complete the Oral Prospectus Examination no later than one year after passing the Written Comprehensive Examination. The Epidemiology Program Director will give exceptions only upon written petition and approval.
If students fail the exam, the Doctoral Advisory Committee determines the conditions to be met before another examination may be given.
For students who must repeat an examination, the second examination must be taken within one year after the first exam.
PhD students must complete the qualifying exam within three years of matriculation, the candidacy exam within five years of matriculation, and their degree within eight years of matriculation.