MD/PhD Degree Program in Epidemiology
The MD/PhD degree program in Epidemiology provides comprehensive clinical research training and is for University of Pennsylvania medical students interested in academic careers as independent clinical research investigators. The four-year training program in epidemiology, directed by the faculty of the Graduate Group in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, consists of courses in clinical epidemiology, research methodology, and biostatistics; elective courses; extensive independent readings; attendance at research seminars at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics; and the completion of a dissertation. Specifically, the program is designed to:
- provide an in depth knowledge of the research techniques appropriate to clinical epidemiologic research
- provide research experience with mentors in clinical epidemiology, applying these techniques to issues of various medical specialties and subspecialties
View information about the application/admissions process and eligibility requirements
Students accepted into the MD/PhD degree program generally begin to take courses required for the PhD degree after the completion of the second or third year of medical school. Upon entering the first year of the PhD degree program, students are assigned to a faculty mentor who will act in an advisory capacity throughout the students' course of study. Advisors may assign additional readings and will work with each student to develop the required research project leading to the dissertation.
The requirements for the PhD degree portion of the combined degree program, including the required core of courses, additional electives, and dissertation, are the same as those required for the PhD degree. The criteria for evaluation for the degree, including the Qualifications Evaluation Examination, the Preliminary Examination, and the Dissertation Examination, are the same as well.
The MD/PhD combined degree program can be completed in seven years. The four years normally required for the PhD degree are linked with the four year MD degree curriculum. Efficient use of flexible time and overlapping requirements enable students to complete requirements for both degrees within seven years.
By graduation, students will have obtained the following skills:
- Detailed and in-depth facility with epidemiologic research designs, including randomized clinical trials, cohort and case-control studies, surveys and quasi-experiments, particularly: articulating achievable research objectives, designing and implementing appropriate study methods, applying appropriate analytic techniques, and correctly describing and interpreting study results.
- Mastery of the design or designs listed above that will be used in the dissertation.
- Advanced knowledge of the principles and application of biostatistical methods, including facility with statistical programs for analyzing data.
- Advanced knowledge of the concepts of health measurement, clinical economics, and clinical decision making, as applied to epidemiologic research.
- In-depth knowledge of a specialized area or health problem, the one that will be addressed by the dissertation.
In addition, through electives and research projects, PhD students may obtain expertise in additional related areas, such as health services research, bioethics, human genetics, patient-oriented research, and biostatistics.