What courses should I take to be successful in studying Epidemiology?

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In this post, the emphasis is on bachelor’s and master’s degrees and which programs will launch a career in epidemiology. There are specialization areas that allow students, at the graduate level, to hone their skills and knowledge in cancer, genetics, infectious disease, and environmental causes, for example. As you know, epidemiology is not about the medical procedures to treat infections. It studies the where, how, and why an illness has infected a particular geographical area or race.

DegreeQuery.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.


Most undergraduate and graduate programs are under the banner of public health. The selection of institutions offering a baccalaureate in epidemiology is limited. One possibility is the University of California-San Diego with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) with a concentration in epidemiology. Lower-division (32 units) and upper-division (52 units) make up most of the four-year curriculum. The former consists of required courses in public health and biology, plus an assortment of choices in Quantitative Methods and Social and Behavioral Science Electives.

Upper-division courses have public core disciplines and numerous electives covering a range of subjects. Examples are:

  • Sociology of Aids
  • Drugs and Behavior
  • Epidemiology and Public Health
  • Politics of Food
  • Statistics
  • Global Health
  • Human Physiology

Because of the extensive list of electives, students can tailor their future studies to a specialized area. The UC program prepares graduates for advanced degrees or entry-level positions in public health. A critical component of epidemiology is understanding statistics. Therefore, you should include it in your coursework. After all, epidemiology is the study of patterns of disease and other afflictions across the human population. Analyzing data is beneficial to your success in this science.

As you search for schools offering epidemiology at the undergraduate level, use the words: Bachelor of Science in Public Health. Search engines will find more choices this way than looking for epidemiology.

A second example is the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University in Bloomington. Its 120-credit BSPH in Epidemiology teaches students to understand, prevent, control, and analyze diseases. The Department of Epidemiology consists of faculty professionals who excel in cancer prevention, metabolic disease, cardiovascular issues, molecular biology, pharmacoepidemiology, and more.

Most of the classes have the word epidemiology in the title to reinforce the emphasis on this field. Examples are Environmental, Reproductive, Sexually Transmitted, Substance Abuse, Chronic Diseases, Fundamentals of Injury, and Informatics.

A short list of the competencies graduates will have:

  1. Analyze and summarize data, and draw conclusions from an epidemiologic investigation
  2. Understand and apply complex biological, environmental, and behavioral disease risk factors
  3. Prepare written and oral reports and presentations
  4. Use medical informatics tools

For undergraduates, there are no particular courses for future success. As with the above institutions, your first four years should cover a spectrum of subjects. Specialization is not a consideration for a bachelor’s degree.


Graduate programs are where you’ll find schools offering epidemiology as a choice, independent of public health. The Department of Epidemiology at the University of Florida (UF) has a Master of Science in the specialty. Additionally, it has a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology. It appears from the similar coursework that either option prepares students for public health work in a clinical or research capacity.

The MS in Epidemiology at UF includes classes in various health-related areas, like chronic diseases, hospital, cancer, genetic, and spatial epidemiology. Other courses include biostatistics, scientific writing, and regression methods for the life sciences.

For comparison, the MSPH studies biostatistics, social sciences, epidemiology, and environmental health. Students learn about the psychological and behavioral issues involved in public health.

Students who want a more specialized graduate program to ensure future success have options. Kent State University in Ohio has a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology. Those who aspire to work in research and data analysis might prefer this program. Available online, graduates have the qualifications to become:

  • Research Scientists
  • Clinical Trial Managers
  • Research Assistants
  • Data Scientists
  • Epidemiologists

Some of the clinical courses include:

  • Applied Regression Analysis
  • Observational Designs for Clinical research
  • Advanced Epidemiology and Clinical Research
  • Biostatistics in Public Health
  • Experimental Designs

Students also choose two courses or 5-6 credits from a list of epidemiology electives. Examples are pharmacoepidemiology, chronic diseases, infectious diseases, and scientific writing.

A master’s degree in epidemiology or public health with a concentration in this discipline qualifies you for positions at the county and state government levels.  Indeed and other online employment sites post jobs for Epidemiologists for Hawaii, Virginia, Texas, Georgia, Washington State, and Orange County, California. Several positions in this sector emphasize education and experience in biostatistics and the analysis of datasets. Therefore, regardless of your education level, expertise in statistical analysis, data collection, interpreting data, and statistical software is essential.

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