Which PhD Program Is Right for Me?

Potential students may gravitate naturally towards either the Global Health Sciences or the Epidemiology and Translational Science doctoral program based on their methodological interests or future career goals. For those who are unsure, the boundary between these two disciplines may not appear sharp: global health researchers draw heavily on epidemiologic tools and ideas, and epidemiologists routinely address substantive questions in a global context.

PhD Program

Epidemiology and Translational Science Global Health Sciences
About the Field

Epidemiology is the study of population patterns of health and disease, including incidence or etiology and prognosis or outcomes of illness. Epidemiologists evaluate the potential health effects of exposures at multiple levels from genetic variants to social policies.

Global Health Sciences is transdisciplinary study that employs research and scholarship to implement and evaluate programs that strengthen health systems and reduce the burden of disease in the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Research Methodology

Students rely heavily on quantitative research tools applied in diverse data sources, but also utilize mixed methods and a multi-disciplinary tool set.

Students integrate research methods from different disciplines, including epidemiology, biostatistics, demography, policy, social sciences, and clinical health sciences.

Research Focus

Epidemiology students generally focus their research on evaluating drivers of disease incidence, disease prognosis, or strategies to reduce disease burden, such as incidence of malaria, functional disability after stroke, or inequalities in breast cancer.

Global health students research questions that relate to underserved populations and health inequities, both domestically and internationally.

  • Two years of quantitatively rigorous coursework on epidemiologic and biostatistical methods and an additional area of concentration
  • Two research rotations
  • Two years of coursework on research methods—including epidemiology, biostatistics and implementation sciences—and broad coursework in global health content areas
  • Two research rotations
  • Program of study individualized based on interests and previous academic coursework
  • Qualifying examination required to advance to candidacy and initiate dissertation research
Possible Careers after Graduation
  • Academic careers
  • Research in industry
  • Independent research in academic or quasi-academic settings
  • Research or leadership roles in non-profit, government, or for-profit sectors
  • Academic careers
  • Research or leadership roles in government, non-government and bilateral/multilateral organizations
  • Positions in the private sector or philanthropic organizations
How to Choose Your Program

Review the faculty members in each department to determine the affiliation of those whose research most inspires you. Both programs seek students whose interests mesh closely with the areas of expertise of the respective faculty. Consider the whole team of people you will train with, including primary mentors and specialists in specific methodologies. Search UCSF Profiles for potential mentors.

Admissions Criteria
  • Commitment to public health research
  • A passion to use rigorous scientific tools to improve health for all people
  • Training at the master's level in epidemiology, public health or related fields
  • A strong background and interest to pursue research in the broad range of epidemiology and translational science, including epidemiologic and biostatistical methods, genetic, social, and clinical epidemiology and disease-specific training
  • Evidence of a strong quantitative background, for example in statistics or computation, linked to commitment to health research
  • Demonstrated commitment to and passion for global health work and research
  • Experience working with underserved populations
  • Evidence of a research background and desire to acquire methods training across disciplines, including epidemiology, biostatistics, implementation sciences, demography, qualitative and social sciences
  • Interest to pursue research across a broad range of global health content areas, including global health development and inequity, health systems and financing, policy, economics, and global health diplomacy
  • A master’s degree or terminal professional degree
Program Costs

Both PhD programs provide a stipend and payment of fees and tuition in the form of fellowships and research and teaching assistantships. In the second year of the program, students typically apply for extramural funding, e.g., fellowships from the UCSF Graduate Division and National Institutes of Health (NIH). To preserve research time, students are expected to work no more than 50% time. Specific funding and requirements will vary by program, and the program staff will work with you to assemble the best possible funding package upon admission.

[email protected] [email protected]
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics Institute for Global Health Sciences