Doctoral Program in Epidemiology & Translational Science


The PhD program in Epidemiology and Translational Science is housed in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (DEB) at the UCSF School of Medicine, offered in collaboration with UCSF’s renowned Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.  Doctoral students receive high caliber training in core skills of epidemiologic and biostatistical methods along with practical “research rotations” to enhance classroom training.  We especially encourage applications from students interested in our 11 areas of concentration with particular research depth at UCSF:

  1. Aging (including cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disease, and dementia/brain aging) (with faculty in the chronic disease and cancer divisions )
  2. Bioinformatics
  3. Biostatistics
  4. Cancer epidemiology
  5. Clinical epidemiology
  6. Environmental and occupational epidemiology
  7. Genetic epidemiology
  8. Global health
  9. Infectious disease epidemiology
  10. Screening and early detection
  11. Social epidemiology

Our Students

Incoming classes are typically 4-5 PhD students, with 15-20 PhD students  in the program at any given time.  Students are funded from a combination of sources, including UCSF fellowships, individual or institutional dissertation fellowships from federal, state, local, and non-profit sources, and employment on faculty research projects.  We work with admitted students to identify funding opportunities. The UCSF PhD program admitted its first cohort of students in 2010, and our alumni have positions in academic, government, non-profit and industry research and public health institutions.

Distinctive Features of the UCSF Program

The UCSF PhD in Epidemiology & Translational Science emphasizes translation from research to population health impact.  We are located in a School of Medicine on a Health Sciences Campus, with countless opportunities for training in clinical, basic and population sciences with faculty in in our department and other UCSF departments.

Our training program takes advantage of these resources and emphasizes applied research rotations with leading research groups to complement core classroom training. Students take courses within the  UCSF Training In Clinical Research program, throughout UCSF, or via intercampus exchange elsewhere in the UC system or several other Bay Area universities.  We emphasize not only theoretical research skills, but practical aspects of conducting research, including successful multidisciplinary collaborations, experience in teaching epidemiology and translational sciences, and planning/completion of original research.  With this model of formal and applied training, our graduates are emerging as a new generation of epidemiologists and translational scientists who will transform both clinical practice and population health.

We accept only a small group of top-notch PhD students each year, so our program is flexible and accommodating to individual professional goals and background.  The PhD program is a three to four-year course of study for individuals who wish to pursue independent research careers in epidemiology and translational science and who have already completed training at the Master's level in epidemiology, public health or related fields. Candidates without a masters degree may want to consider our Master's degree in Clinical Research. We encourage applications to our PhD program from those who are successfully completing our Master's program.

Epidemiology serves as a key discipline in team science and in problem-based learning.  We view the use of epidemiology in translational science as a critical perspective and set of research methods that will move basic scientific discoveries to practical clinical applications and dissemination of new basic and clinical knowledge to population health settings. A central goal is to take advantage of the highly interdisciplinary nature of UCSF and to adopt a transdisciplinary approach to graduate education.

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