PhD Admissions

Admissions Criteria

The following qualifications are needed to apply:

  • A bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA
  • A prior master’s degree in a field relevant to health research, such as epidemiology, public health, clinical research, or a related technical field such as statistics or computer science; the following exemptions may apply:
      • Applicants with exceptional research backgrounds may be accepted without a master’s degree. These students may be required, however, to complete additional coursework.
      • Applicants with terminal clinical degrees

        (MD, PharmD, RN, NP) but no master’s will be evaluated based on their prior research experience and potential to be a leader in population health research, with the admissions committee recommending one of the following outcomes:

        • Direct admission to the PhD program, based on the assessment that the applicant’s prior work manifests experience and training on par with a research master’s degree. 
        • Deferral of decision regarding admission to the PhD program with recommendation that the applicant pursue a master’s in the UCSF Training in Clinical Research (TICR) program, with reevaluation of the applicant at the conclusion of year 1 in the TICR program.
        • Denial of admission
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or MCAT results from testing within 5 years of the application deadline . Exemptions: MDs board certified in the U.S. or Canada  are exempt from taking the GRE.

Applicants from non-English speaking countries must also demonstrate proficiency in the English language by

  • Completing one year of study with a minimum GPA of 3.00 at an accredited college or university in the United States OR
  • Obtaining the minimum scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the IELTS International English Language Testing System. Students must have a TOEFL score ≥ 570 (paper), ≥ 230 (computer), or ≥ 80 (internet-based test). Applicants may also take the IELTS test with a minimum score of 7. You must have taken the TOEFL within five years prior to the date of application. You must request that scores are sent to UCSF (code 4840).

Students who have completed degrees in countries where English is the native language are exempt from the testing requirement. 

How to Apply

The application deadline occurs at the beginning of December, for admission the following fall. Most admissions decisions are made by the end of February.  Submit the following required materials to the UCSF Graduate Division online application: 

  • Scores from GRE and TOEFL or IELTS for non-native English Speakers
  • Official transcripts from all institutions attended
  • Three letters of recommendation

Choose recommenders who know you well and have the professional standing to write a compelling letter of support for you.  At least one of the letters must be from an advisor familiar with your research skills. Your application may not be considered if your letters do not reach us in a timely fashion, so remember to follow-up with a reminder to the individuals from whom you have requested letters. Letters must be received by the application deadline: December 1.

Once you save the name and contact information of your recommenders, you must still send them an invitation to submit the letter. Upon selecting "Send Request" an email from this on-line system will be sent to your recommender. Be sure to contact your recommenders to confirm they received this email and are aware of the submission deadline.

  • Personal History Statement 

Discuss how your personal background influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, cultural, economic, family or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey. UCSF is committed to a diverse and inclusive graduate student population. Diversity refers to the variety of experiences and perspectives that arise from differences in race, culture, religion, mental or physical capabilities, heritage, age, gender, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. UCSF values diversity because it enhances the educational experience, the workplace, and services to the public provided by this campus. 

  • Statement of Purpose 

Please state your reason for applying to the PhD Program in Epidemiology and Translational Science. What questions are you interested in addressing in a doctoral training program? Provide any personal or background information that may aid the selection committee in evaluating your potential for graduate study. Assuming you have already received a master’s degree, please include a summary of what you have been doing since graduation. Please do not reiterate the material in your Research Summary for this section of your application. You must restrict your summary to ONE PAGE (approx. 650 words/3000 characters). If you do not remain within this limit, the database that receives this summary will delete all text past the limit. We will notify you via email if we determine that your summary is incomplete.

  • Research Experience & Research Summary

Research experience is valued, because it shows us that you can succeed in a research-intensive environment. Focus on articulating clear and compelling scientific goals in your essays. For each significant research experience you have had, describe the scientific context of the research question you addressed, the methods you employed, and the conclusions you made from your work. List the name of your research adviser, the name and location of the university or company where you did the research, the dates of the project.

  • Publications

Please list citations for any publications resulting from your research. If you do not have any publications please click 'Skip Page' It is advisable to use New England Journal of Medicine format for citations.

Interviews

Selected applicants will be interviewed by the admissions committee or its designate.

More Information

See our Frequently Asked Questions or contact the program office for more information.