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As a PhD student at the Yale School of Public Health, you enjoy unparalleled access to funding opportunities to support your dissertation research activities under the supervision of top-notch, encouraging faculty mentors.

Sappho Gilbert
PhD Chronic Disease Epidemiology‘23

PhD in Chronic Disease Epidemiology

Photo by Harold Shapiro
Associate professor Andrew DeWan and doctoral student Yasmmyn Salinas isolate DNA from saliva samples collected from subjects recruited as part of the FAstGen study which is attempting to identify rare genetic variants segregating with asthma within families.

The department is perhaps best known for its doctoral programs in the epidemiology of cancer, aging, lifecourse epidemiology (including perinatal and pediatric epidemiology), genomics, HIV/AIDS and social determinants of health. However, students in the department often work on projects with other departments within YSPH, other departments in the School of Medicine, and other schools within the University. Thus there are numerous opportunities for creating an experientially rich doctoral program. Graduates from the department's doctoral program are found on the faculties of universities throughout the world, at the highest levels of federal and international research programs, and in numerous private and public foundations, institutions, and industries.

Students in Chronic Disease Epidemiology use primarily quantitative research methods to identify the causes of chronic disease in populations, including lifestyle factors and genomics, and evaluate the impact of chronic disease at a population level including consideration of various treatment approaches to improve outcomes and reduce costs. In consultation with the faculty advisor, the student chooses among doctoral-level courses offered by the department as well as among courses offered by the medical school or by other Yale professional or graduate schools. Students often take an advanced seminar in their specialty area and present their work in this collegial forum. All candidates must become proficient in statistical analysis, research methods, and the application of epidemiology to the field in which they have special interest.

Applicants should have solid preparation at the college level in the biological or social sciences and one year of college-level mathematics.

Students entering the doctoral program typically have a strong background in undergraduate science and frequently have a master's degree in public health or a related field, or significant public health research experience. A master’s degree is not required to apply for this program, although the majority of students in the program come with prior master’s preparation.

Beginning with the Fall 2025 application cycle, the GRE is no longer required.

Degree Requirements - PhD in Chronic Disease Epidemiology

2024-25 Matriculation

All courses are 1 unit unless otherwise noted.

The Ph.D. degree requires a total of 17 course units. Course substitutions must be identified and approved by the student’s advisor and DGS.

PhD Required Courses (9 course units)

  • CDE/EHS 502 Physiology for Public Health
  • CDE 516 Principles of Epidemiology II
  • CDE 534 Applied Analytic Methods in Epidemiology
  • CDE 610 Applied Area Readings for Qualifying Examinations
  • CDE 617 Developing a Research Proposal OR EMD 625 How to Develop, Write and Evaluate an NIH proposal
  • EHS/CDE 566 – Causal Inference Methods in Public Health Research
  • CDE 650 Introduction to Evidence-Based Medicine and Health Care
  • EPH 508 Foundations of Epidemiology and Public Health
  • EPH 600 Research Ethics and Responsibilities - 0 units
  • EPH 608 Frontiers in Public Health*

PhD Electives in Biostatistics – 600 level courses (3 course units required)

Alternate courses can be substituted to meet this requirement (i.e., S&DS 563, Multivariate Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences is approved to fulfill the Biostatistics electives.

PhD Electives (5 course units)

*Students entering the program with an MPH or relevant graduate degree may be exempt from this requirement

Research Experience

In a number of courses, students gain actual experience with various aspects of research including preparation of a research grant, questionnaire design, preparation of a database for analysis, and analysis and interpretation of real data. In addition, doctoral students can gain research experience by working with faculty members on ongoing research studies prior to initiating dissertation research.

The Dissertation

Many dissertations are presented as three or more completed, submitted or published manuscripts based on the dissertation research.

Doctoral candidates with a concentration in CDE may specialize in the following areas:

  • Aging
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Genetic
  • Molecular
  • Nutrition
  • Perinatal
  • Psychiatric Epidemiology
  • Psychosocial Epidemiology

Recent Dissertation Projects

  • Mapping and Monitoring Community Nutrition in Transition in Nunavut, Canada
  • Lifestyle Behaviors in the Context of Obesity-Related Cancer Outcomes Among Hispanic and African American Populations
  • Suicide Risk Prediction Among Veterans Living with HIV
  • Influence of air pollution on 2014-2015 national-, regional-, and state-level ischemic stroke hospitalization and 30-day all-cause hospital readmission in the United States
  • Understanding the effects of Psychosocial Factors and Antihypertensive Drug
  • Adherence on Outcomes for Young Acute Myocardial Infarction Patients
  • Whole Genome Sequencing Canine Genome to Identify Cancer-associated Genetic Risks
  • Understanding Risk Factors associated with Preterm Birth and Neonatal Mortality among Pacific Islanders